Archive for the 'Off the Streets of Shanghai' Category

13
Aug
10

Stating the obvious: it’s hot.

This was taken a few weeks ago, on what was then the hottest day of the year. But by now, everyone would have been used to 38-40 degrees Celsius (100 – 105 degrees Farenheit) weather in Shanghai.

Yes, it’s an oven outside and it’s going to stay that way for a few more weeks. Walking along the streets, you can see the heat eminating from the asphalt, creating sporadic mirages. The sun sears your skin, and each gulp of hot and humid air is worse than the next.

Yet the cruel weather does little to deter tourists headed for the Expo. They come in droves, jostling in lines and panting by the many mobile water coolers on the Expo grounds. Lethargic individuals sprawl on the grass, pavements and benches. Others fan themselves furiously, only to break out in more sweat from the futile activity.

This is the main “Sun Valley”of the Expo Axis, a 1km long elevated pedestrian walk that connects 6 “Sun Valley” horn-like structures. Located next to the China Pavillion, it is lit up with a moving LED video and stands in front of a reflecting pool. Brilliantly thought through in terms of design for night time, it is one of the most widely photographed piece of architecture at the Expo.

Given the heat, the shallow reflecting pool is also a great way to cool off, and families would throng and splash their way through the area. I saw a child lie down on her back in the shallow water, staring into the sky with a most contented look on her face. For a moment, I was most tempted to follow.

Instead, I reached for a cold beer. That will serve as a respite, for now.

July 2010

01
May
10

And the Shanghai Expo begins..

I caught the ceremonial launch of the World Expo in Shanghai on television like any good Shanghai resident, away from the maddening crowds. It showed spectacular views of the Shanghai skyline, especially an aerial sweep of the Lujiazui financial district, which sits on the edge of Pudong, like a futuristic island only opened to special individuals.

That was when it hit me: Hate or or love it, Shanghai had an incredible urban landscape.

Yet when the fireworks were primed to go off, we dashed toward the river front where teaming masses had been milling around for over an hour.

And when the sky lit up with bursts of golden and red clouds of light, everyone ooohed and aahed. Someone remarked that it was not as heart-stopping as the Beijing Olympics ceremony, but what they hey, kids were screaming in joy and adults were staring in awe. I stood in a sea of outstretched arms, filming the entire display with camera phones. We all shared a moment along a part of the river less frequented by tourists and wished every night was this special.

April 2010

02
Apr
10

Up in the air

While playing with (and by that, I mean being bullied by) a screaming bunch of pint-sized kids in the longtang one day, a ruddy-faced boy suddenly asked me, “Have you been on an airplane? What is it like?”

Domestic air travel in China reached 215 million passengers in 2009 and with the newly opened Hongqiao Terminal 2, Shanghai now has 2 airports housing 4 terminals. Each day, tens of thousands are touching down and/or taking to the skies to and from our fair city.

But we forget the majority of China travel domestically by bus or train. Not everyone has had, or will have, the luxury of sitting in a flying tin can, eating bad airplane food.

Hence today’s photos. Hardly street level, but yesterday’s foggy and dreadfully wet weather reminded me of the many possible air travellers abandoned in lounges or trapped on tarmacs in Shanghai’s airports.

This is for ruddy-faced A-da (阿怛).

Here’s to you, kid. I forgive you for sneezing all over my camera. May you one day share the same view.

December 2009, en route Shanghai-Beijing




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