Thursday, July 14, 2011

Slowly Vanishing: Shanghai's "Old" Xiaonanmen

Frequently the news in the US about Shanghai regards its latest and greatest -- high speed rail, new skyscrapers, etc.  However, there are other sides to Shanghai that are often overlooked, even by some of the people who live there.  One such side can be found in the Xiaonanmen area of Shanghai's centrally-located "Old Town".  Its landscape is changing, though, as sections of it feel the impact of the seemingly unstoppable march of "progress".  Whatever merits the changes may have, certainly much history and culture is disappearing.  But some of it remains, for now.

With that in mind, this past weekend I visited Xiaonanmen.  In some ways it reminded me of much of what I've recently seen in many other cities in China that have undergone far less change.  In others ways it seemed to capture a spirit that is special to Shanghai.

If you can bear through the bobbling of the the following video, you'll catch some of the sounds, sights, and energy in a local street market I walked through.  Every time I watch it I see different things I want to comment on.  For now, I'll just say that it touches on aspects of the daily lives for many in China that can feel far removed from Great Firewalls and high speed trains.

And here are some photos of more people and scenes in Xiaonanmen, each with many stories to tell:

The writing in red is a Chinese character to indicate the building will be demolished

Around the fabric market

Chinese squash can be rather large

Most of this block is demolished.  Hints of the possible future in the background.

Time for a beer

Cooking food

Trying to get the recently washed cat to pose for a photo

I've recently seen a few young kids with similar haircuts

Some small scale construction -- not so typical for this area.

The chef for my outdoor street-side dinner

Partially demolished home

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