Snapshots from 上海

Before joining the O’Bayes 2011 conference, Linda kindly took me on a quick morning tour of the Bund, the historical colonial district of Shanghai. This was very nice, bringing back memories of my friend José de Sam Lazaro telling me about his childhood there in the French concession, and the views of the Huangpu River in a mist [that did not lift for the whole day] were terrific. (The photo below not only gives an hazy idea of the Pudong district, but it incorporates a well-hidden statue of the former mayor of Shanghai in typical Maoist attire, as well as a few security cameras that seem to be everywhere.) However, I felt a bit sorry (and not only from a tourist’s point of view) that there was no visible remnant of an older Shanghai (I mean, older than the colonial buildings on the Bund) that seemed to have been entirely razed to build new tall buildings in a rather haphazard fashion… The whole city is brimming with construction work, from high-rise buildings in the centre to the many housing complexes I saw from the highway.

An example was provided by the Yuyuan Bazaar which surrounds a 1559 garden and its few preserved buildings by a recently reconstructed Ming architecture complex catering to tourists (including me). This was however the opportunity to sample an amazing dimsum early lunch! And to find Pu Er tea.

Overall, and this is obviously a very naïve reaction to my first visit there!, I am very impressed at the bustling pace China (or at least Shanghai) had modernised (compared with the mid 80’s) and how close to Western lifestyle (in many ways) life there is… I was somehow expecting a less organised and less polished city, but, apart from the way pedestrians and cyclists seem to be completely indifferent to the traffic, the city is an image of efficiency. Obviously, there must be huge differences with remote and rural China, and, given an average yearly salary of $6000, only the happy fews can manage to shop in the fancy stores on Nanjin Road (unlike the more traditional department store below). Nonetheless, I find the speed of this homogeneisation process quite stunning. And also a bit worrying on the social and environmental planes if this prefigures the evolution of all metropolis in a near future…

One Response to “Snapshots from 上海”

  1. […] to have discovered an overlook volume! The more because the story was partly taking place in Shanghai. I am alas rather disappointed by the result. Indeed, the book does not read well in that the […]

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