As summer approaches, everybody in Shanghai should be preparing to live well and stay fit during the hot and humid season. But how do Chinese people stay fit without suffering from the effects of summer’s intensive heat? During my time in Shanghai, I have received some great advice from family and friends on how to keep the summer heat at bay. Here, I share some of those wonderful suggestions with you:
Daily Life – Day to day solutions:
Compared with the other seasons, it is actually OK to stay up later in the evenings in summer and get up earlier in the mornings.
Summer bamboo mahjong cushion
In order to keep cool while sleeping or resting, some smart person thought of using natural bamboo blocks shaped like mahjong tiles and with a strong rope, created a plaited mat. It is a lovely Chinese summer cooling invention as many middle-aged and elderly people enjoy a 1-2 hour nap in the afternoons.
It’s summer and what better way to beat the heat than by replacing your scolding hot showers with a cold one? Lowering your water temperature can do far more than just cool you down. Cold showers can also help improve blood circulation, flush out toxins and boost energy levels.
A proper diet, especially during the summer months, is very important. My mother would always prepare nutritious light dishes and tell me to avoid oily and fried foods. Eating light does not necessarily mean being a vegetarian. It is recommended to eat lean meats eggs, milk, fish and soy bean products. According to traditional Chinese medical beliefs, most bitter tasting vegetables relieve internal heat. Vegetables such as sow thistles and bitter gourds are popular summer foods that help relieve summer heat, eliminate fatigue and bring the spleen and stomach into harmony.
Lu Dong gao or mung bean cake (绿豆糕)
According to traditional Chinese medicine, green beans help relieve internal heat, quench thirst and are good for detoxifying the body. It is the most popular snack in summer for many Shanghainese and as the name suggests, the most important ingredient is the mung bean powder which is mixed with pea powder, sugar and sweet-scented osmanthus flower.
Summer on a Stick
Juicy wedges of fruit skewered on a stick for 2-3 yuan is a summer delight. The vendors are on every street corner and the fruit sell as fast as they can be prepared. You can choose from a variety of fruits such as watermelon (西瓜) rockmelon, honey melon (哈密瓜), or pineapple. Cold, ripe, fresh and delicious!
Xiao long xia (crayfish, 小龙虾)
Shanghainese are crazy for crayfish in summer. The hot weather is just not bearable without these buckets of crayfish tossed with chili and downed by one or more cold, cheap Tsingtao beers. This is without a doubt, the most popular midnight summer food in Shanghai.
Summer ice creams
To keep cool, here are some famous old-school ice creams and popsicles that I just love. These Chinese ‘ice creams’ bring back memories of my childhood, when life was much slower in Shanghai.
Xue nuo mi ice cream (血糯米)
A popular milk-flavored ice cream stick is one covered with xue nuo mi, a kind of black sticky rice. The sticky rice sits on top of the ice cream and creates a unique flavor that balances the richness of the milk and freshness of the sticky rice. An intriguing texture that combines smooth cream and chewy rice.
Salty-sweet popsicles (yan shui bang bing, 盐水棒冰)
This is a classic. A household favorite that many Chinese make at home when they were students. The ingredients are sugar, salt and water and the slightly sweet and salty flavor is appealing and thirst-quenching.
Sweet red bean popsicles(hongdou bang bing, 红豆棒冰)
Sweet red bean is a traditional Chinese treat that cools the body, removes heat and dampness from the body during the humid summer. It is also said to help in the prevention of heatstroke. The combination of mashed beans and hard ice creates an intriguing texture.
Things to do
In order to cut utility costs during the summer months, many Chinese like to hang out in supermarkets, shopping malls, book stores and even subway stations. Ikea turns out to be a popular choice as it comes with furniture, affordable meals and refillable drinks. Additional ways to enjoy the season can encompass taking walks, dancing or taijiquan (a kind of traditional Chinese shadow boxing).
Shanghai’s biggest water park, offers a selection of fun water rides including the 1,200-meter-long “Thunderbolt River” and “Storm Beach” wave pool — just be prepared for the big crowds.
Dina Beach Water Park, 78 Xinzhen Lu, near Gudai Lu, Minhang District 热带风暴水上乐园, 闵行区新镇路78号, 近顾戴路.
Oriental Sports Center
The best swimmers in the world came to this newly built sports center to compete in diving, water polo, swimming, synchronized and swimming Now it’s your turn to enjoy it!
Oriental Sports Center, 168 Jiyang Lu, near Yaohua Lu, Pudong New Area 2011世界游泳锦标赛, 东方体育中心, 浦东新区济阳路168号,近杨思路
Jinshan City Beach
You think Shanghai doesn’t have any beaches? You just haven’t been looking hard enough. Jinshan City Beach is an artificial beach with crystal clear waters. It is a rare thing in the vast sprawling metropolis of Shanghai to have a man-made delight of sand and seawater.
Jinshan City Beach, 5 Xincheng Lu, near Jintao Lu 金山城市沙滩, 金山新城路5号, 近金涛路
Bihai Jinsha Waterpark
Sometimes you don’t want to do anything but lay in the sun with a book and the pools here are perfect for that. Ignore the crowds at the water park rides and instead head to the sunbathing area where you can plop down in a deck chair facing the sea and take in the sun.
Bihai Jinsha Water Park, 39 Haiou Lu, near Jinhuitang Lu 碧海金沙水上乐园, 海湾旅游区海鸥路39号, 近金汇塘路