Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Non-Promotional Scenes from Changping Town in Dongguan, China

A little more than two years ago, I crossed the border between Hong Kong and Shenzhen and then boarded a high-speed train. After arriving in the neighboring city of Dongguan, a rickshaw driver brought me to a hotel. I quickly discovered that although I was at my desired hotel chain, it was not the location I had expected. This was partly due to me not knowing that the Dongguan Rail Station was more than 45 minutes away by taxi from the more central district I had planned to visit. Since it was already mid-afternoon, I decided to spend the night where I was in Dongguan's Changping Town and see what it had to offer.

I'm reminded of this experience because of a post by Kevin McGeary in The Nanfang about a new promotional video:
Dongguan has been given some pretty unpleasent labels over the years. These include “Sex capital,” “Dickensian Factory City,” and “Sparta of the East,” according to today’s Southern Metropolis Daily.

But the city is finally fighting back, and the PR drive has started with a 1-minute promotional film called “Hello Dongguan” that praises the city’s traditional culture, natural scenery and basketball, among other things.
And here is "Hello Dongguan" (see McGeary's post for The Nanfang's translation):

(note: If you are using an RSS reader and can't see the video, you should have better luck on the blog.)

Excited to visit Dongguan now? Well, although I would say Dongguan has its charms, the video certainly does not remind me of my own experiences there. Given the video's promotional nature, though, I can't say I was surprised by it.

I'd like to provide a different perspective on Dongguan, and in this post will share a series of photos from Changping Town. They represent what I saw during a long meandering walk one day in an area I had not planned to visit. The photos are presented in chronological order and capture scenes not often found in typical promotional videos or news stories about Dongguan's many factories. And together they highlight some of the contrasts which can be found even in just one of Dongguan's 32 districts & towns.

traditional older building isolated in the middle of an intersection
An older building standing in the middle of an intersection

As I was walking away from an urban area

countryside farms with tall urban buildings in the background
Looking back

dirt road
Looking forward

Three boys I met along the way

Eventually I headed back to the urban area where I was staying

A busier street

Crossing the street

Serving people's edacious and potatory needs

Outside a department store

man sitting on a sack while watching a TV at a store
Who needs a stool?

Waiting to use the ATM

A pedestrian shopping street

A large sign for the street: "The World of Women Footstreet"

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