28.9.05

the shanghai diaries

i've just gotten back to my dad's house in hong kong, from a weeklong trip to shanghai visiting an old friend. shanghai is amazing, and in many ways reminds me of hong kong - the unending hustle and bustle, the bright lights and towers, and the massive roiling crowds. in many ways, shanghai to me is a young hong kong, striving towards some capitalist consumer pinnacle of power - it just has more land in which to do it, and a constant source of cheap labor from the surrounding areas. shanghai is truly the city that never sleeps, with construction crews working around the clock, and jackhammers pounding away just outside my bedroom at 7 am on a saturday morning.

shanghai is a city that had been frozen in time for the last 40 years, after the communists and the cultural revolution removed it from the world's awareness, and the expat elite that had made shanghai the most westernized place in asia moved to hong kong. it is a place where you can see bamboo scaffolds wrapping skyscrapers; walk down old narrow side alleys where the street is an extension of private space, with the most amazing smells coming from street-side kitchens adorned with drying laundry - and watch grown men gamble on cricket fights against a backdrop of shiny glass and steel.
after going to shanghai, you may never think new york city is a fast place again.

more to write, and photos too, after i come back to the fading empire...

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