As part of Shanghai's "one city nine towns" initiative, a bunch of faux-european towns have sprung up around Shanghai. We already explored Thames Town and this time took a roll up to Luodian - otherwise known as Sweden Town.
It's a 60km round trip along a good mix of city streets, canal side paths and fast highways with a few of Shanghai's anti-scenery to soak in along the way. Map here.
Once across the creek aim for Tongchuan Lu and the massive fish market. It's no Tsukiji , or even Billingsgate, but impressive in it's size - covering an immense area in tanks of whatever they could get their hands on. The locals, living in the back of their shops, ran out with their kids to wave at us. We held our noses and waved back.
Track the canal a little and cut across to the mighty Middle Ring road. A few hundred metres north it veers right and we veer left along a canal. The path runs along the water, switching sides at a couple of bridges - it will be mostly obvious when you get there - the google map doesn't recognise one of the paths and so has a large detour. Ignore it and cruise into the real Chinatown.
We hear a lot about the contrast between east (developed) and west (developing) China. Little did we know that the dividing-line seems about 10km outside the city. A few notches towards having nothing - here are ramshackle arrangements of smelting works, village dumps, kids playing with crisp packets and shops selling nothing. Good to see that the mega-polystyrene man, ushered away from the city streets, is going strong here. He looked bemused at our whoops and cheers.
Continue up and onto the super-smooth roads alongside the sprawling Shanghai University campus. At the top of the street head left into a village and look right for a path that runs across the canal (the map cannot compute this). Then it's all about getting across the motorway junction (watch out for the red-herring pedestrian bridge to nowhere) and heading north along the Huati Road.
Onto the main event - 15 or so KM up on the right will be the sign for Lake Malaren. A huge golf course, a few compounds of sloping roof houses and the mini high-street that is Sweden Town (or more precisely 'Northern European Town').
Like Thames Town, enjoyment comes from the WTF-novelty of what they did. It's not as big as the British version, although a huge hole in the ground across the road says that they're not finished yet. I'm sure they can manage a few more compounds with cuckoo-clock spires and a handful more deserted shops before declaring it a monumental flop.
Of course there's the ubiquitous wedding photography teams circling around. In this case they're climbing over each other to get a photo sat on a rusty oil drum at the end of the pier.
Thirsting for some speed we took the more direct route home which was one of the best fast-rides I've had in Shanghai... a smooth road alongside the highway with little interruption except the odd pregnant lady selling saucy DVDs. As for Luodian old-town next door? It's depressed couple streets around a stream are undergoing a sympathetic 'lottery money' renovation. Best left alone.