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New link to Buddhist pilgrim island
By Wing Tan

SHANGHAI residents now has one more transport option to visit Putuo Island, a Buddhist pilgrimage destination in Zhejiang Province, which boasts a large number of monasteries, cave temples, and shrines.

A sea route starting from Jinshuizui Wharf in Jinshan District directly to the Putuo Island on the East China Sea went into operation this month. The piers at both ends have been expanded and renovated.

A shuttle ship goes between two destinations once a day. It leaves Jinshan at 8:45am and reaches Putuo Island at 11:30am. It leaves Putuo at 1:45pm and reaches the Jinshan dock at 4:30pm.

Tickets are priced for second class at 238 yuan (US$38) per person, for first class at 268 yuan and for the business class at 298 yuan. The Jinshan Tourism Bureau has reached an agreement with a travel service provider lvmama.com, which will offer two-day travel packages for tourists who book the tickets on its website.

The No. 2 Sheng Eagle, the new shuttle ship, is a high-speed passenger liner, which can carry 260 people at a speed of 31.5 knots, while the No. 5 Sheng Eagle, a back-up emergency ship, can hold 269 passengers at a speed of 26 knots.

Both ships were designed and produced for the new sea route by the joint efforts of Jinshan District and the Shengsi County, Zhejiang Province.

In the event of an emergency or sudden bad weather, the northwestern tip of the Dajinshan Island, about 3.4 sea miles away from the Jinshan wharf, and the Jiulongshan Yacht Dock, about 12 sea miles from Jinshan, will be used as makeshift refuge harbors.

In October, Jinshan and Zhoushan in Zhejiang Province became twin cities, and also reached a series of tourism agreements to better optimize and share the two area's tourism recourses.

"The Jinshan-Putuo sea line will work as a bridge that links the two destinations," says Lu Jin, deputy director of Jinshan District.

The Jinshan Railway launched in September has been a hot commuter rail line connecting downtown Shanghai and the suburban district.

"Now with the opening of the sea route, Jinshan will become a transit center for Shanghai locals to Zhejiang as well as Zhejiang travelers to Shanghai," Lu says. "It gives a great boost not only to the Jinshan District tourism industry but also to the entire Yangtze River Delta Region."

A traditional route before would include about five hours on the shuttle bus to Zhoushan City and then a 30-minute boat trip to the island. Now with the opening of the new sea line, the travel time can be reduced by more than an hour.

Jinshan has poised itself as a tourism destination in recent years. The city's southwestern district by the Hangzhou Bay features Shanghai's only golden sandy beach, ancient water towns and delicious village banquets.

The Donglin Temple is the city's first nation-rated 4A Buddhism tourism site, while the beach music festival and the international fireworks show has been a signature of the district each summer.

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