Oriental Land is a large park located, ironically, on the far western edge of Shanghai. It’s about a two-hour subway ride from the center of the city, dangling on the shores of Dianshan Lake. The metro station has its own Wikipedia page. Oriental Land is full of obstacle courses and is a prime destination for corporate team building delegations from Shanghai. It also has some jets and a replica of an aircraft carrier.
We went there on a hot day in the middle of the week. The ticketing area and entrance gate were completely empty. I thought maybe it was still closed due to lingering Coronavirus issues, but, no. People just didn’t want to come out all that way in 35-degree (95 Fahrenheit) heat.
The Path of Wisdom
The park opened onto a big sculpture of a man holding a big ball. I assume the ball was meant to be the world. The sculpture kind of looked like it was a giant jungle gym, but unfortunately, it was just a sculpture.
Just past the jungle gym world man, a long, paved walkway stretched out towards a sculpture that looked like a gigantic white sail. Statues of scientists, composers, artists and philosophers lined the walkway. Not just Chinese scholars, either. There was a who’s who of Western intellectual figures, ranging from Sir Isaac Newton to Einstein to Picasso.
We walked the path of wisdom, but to be honest I didn’t feel any smarter. Just hot.
Various trails broke off from the Path of Wisdom, meandering through pleasant little groves of trees and along calm little waterways. It was nice, but not really as nice as other parks in Shanghai, Gongqing Forest Park or the Botanical Gardens, for example.
Still, it was nice to have the place to ourselves. We bought some more water and some spicy peanuts from a hotel, then sat by the lake for a bit. It was cool to see a big lake again, after being gone so long from the land of 10,000 lakes. However, there was no swimming beach, which was what we really needed in the heat. Across the water I could see some smoke stacks and high-rises.
The Aircraft Carrier is the highlight of Oriental Land, Shanghai
The lake was nice, though, and the walk back, including a stop in a bamboo grove, was pleasant despite the heat. But, after just a couple hours, I was ready to go back. It was nice, but not that nice.
Of course, we couldn’t leave without seeing the aircraft carrier. It’s the centerpiece of Oriental Land’s National Security Education Gallery. I’m not sure if it’s a real aircraft carrier or not, but it looked pretty cool, sitting in a small lake. All around, there were decommissioned jets and airplanes. Patriotic music blared through the speakers.
The aircraft carrier is free, so we walked inside, then climbed the stairs up to the main deck. There was a decent view of the surrounding Shanghai suburbs, and a jet and a helicopter you could look at up close. Inside the aircraft carrier, there were a bunch of tanks.
It’s cool if you like tanks and weapons and stuff. Maybe a little awkward if you’re from a country that’s been recently antagonizing China.
Would I go to Oriental Land again? Not on my own. It’d probably be cool as part of a group teambuilding to go through some of the obstacle courses and stuff like that. Otherwise, there are much more interesting things in Shanghai that don’t require two hours on the metro.