Saturday, November 6, 2010

Yet More Shanghai

(Dude's face is messed up by the HDR. The feature makes for much better detail and, typically, color; but if there's any movement--which in life there usually is--the photos shadow.)

Gawd knows how many posts I've written trying to illuminate my experiences in China. Even so, every time I visit I have the desire to tell somebody about it, as though I've witnessed some thing which will not be around next time.

But I think this is the deal: I'm always surprised somehow by the vitality of these Chinese cities coupled with the sheer numbers of people and things to absorb, and by the normality of it all. I'm used to thinking of New York and Los Angeles and Chicago as being the centers of urban culture--and for us they are; but it's instructive to see how much of the planet has nothing to do with any of these places, and to see how little they need us. I step out of the hotel and wonder how all this can be going on with us unawares? American culture has driven much of the civilized world for half a century, and you certainly see some of that here: lots of folks wear blue jeans and there are McDonald's franchises and Nike stores and KFCs and Marlboros and Buicks everywhere. That's great for us (well, it would be great if so much of what we export wasn't giving its recipients diabetes or cancer), but it's absolutely wrong to think of China as a country on its way to becoming America, as a place striving to be what we already are. And that is what one senses while walking around. They are open to new things, but their own ideas and culture extend much further back and we--I, anyway--seem to be coming very late to their party.

Today was the perfect day for walking, about 65 degrees with a light breeze and as much sun as typically gets thru the haze layer. I didn't tally the mileage, but I was out and about for four and a half hours, so 8-10 I suppose, most of that to the North of the hotel where I hadn't yet walked. Another perfect day on layover.

Follow the link to the Flickr set.


Jon said...

I always like the pictures. Like a travelog from when we were kids and used to watch them in the theatre. We may be giving them cancer or whatever, but they are giving us lead and other goodies. Besides, most of what we now buy is from China so we must be helping them somehow. And you are right, we are late to the party and its unlikely we will ever catch back up. I had no idea you were back on the other side of the moon!

Jon said...

By other side of the moon, I mean back in the far east. I'm sure you got that!

wunelle said...

I should get an Apple TV so I could show my pictures on the big screen (I hear Susan groan at the very prospect!). The full-strength versions have quite a bit of detail (the Flickr uploads are downsized considerably).

This trip was supposed to go a bunch of other places, but was shortened because of my recurrent training. So I'm headed back after another day here.