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Friday, July 20, 2012

Skies and Clouds in China

Something in all of the following scenes caught my attention earlier this week:

A-Ma Temple

Penha Church

Mandarin's House

Taipa Village

Apartments and a Coca-Cola sign

More colorful apartments

Narrow alley in Taipa Village

It was something that would not have caught my attention in the same way before my move to Shanghai 6 years ago. While living there I grew accustomed to only rarely seeing a type of sky that was far more typical where I had lived in the U.S. Regardless of whether Shanghai's common monotone grey skies were mainly due to the local climate or pollution, seeing blue skies with fluffy or wispy clouds seemed special in Shanghai.

However, during the summer of 2010 I noticed that Shanghai's sky appeared surprisingly "normal" on a regular basis. Was this due to a sudden change in climate? Doubtful. Instead, the dramatic change was due to government imposted measure intended to improve the air quality for the World Expo being held in Shanghai. The connection became "clearer" after the World Expo ended. High levels of pollution enveloped Shanghai and once more blotted out the sky. Yet again, everyone was paying a price for China's development. But at least more people knew what was possible.

While the Expo was open I commented to a Shanghainese friend that it was wonderful to see "normal" clouds in Shanghai. She laughed and said many of her Shanghainese friends were expressing confusion online about the "strange" clouds they were seeing. They were not used to such skies on a regular basis.

Their comments reminded me of a friend from nearby Nanjing. A few years earlier after she returned from Japan -- her first trip outside of China -- she told me she loved it there. I asked her, "Why?"

She quickly responded, "Because its sky is so blue!" When I later explained that the blue skies she saw were common in many cities outside of China she looked bewildered. She had assumed the type of sky she commonly saw in Shanghai was typical for cities everywhere.

So after my recent weeks in Shanghai it was with great joy I gazed upon the above scenes. But they are not from Shanghai. They are from one of China's two special administrative regions -- Macau:

Scene from Penha Hill

I am not sure that the air was truly healthy, but the bluish sky and its clouds were nonetheless welcome. And they made a wonderful day of exploring Macau all the better.

The weather has been noticeably hotter than some of the more comfortable days during my time here several months ago. But I do not mind, I have been distracted by the sky.

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