Monday, December 12, 2016

Still Around, At Least for Now: The Hongkou Fire Station in Shanghai

As mentioned in a post with photos of a woman selling flowers from a cart, last Friday I briefly wondered about the history of the Hongkou Fire Station in Shanghai. Although the Hongkou district boasts a variety of architecture, the building stands out there as it would in many other places.

Hongkou Fire Station in Shanghai

Not long after taking a few photos of the station on Friday, I discovered that Paul French, author of a number of books about China including The Old Shanghai A-Z, had coincidentally written a post about the building just two days earlier. Sadly, the news he shared was not great. "Will They Really Destroy Hongkou Fire Station?" includes a bit about the fire station's history and explains why French worries the building completed in 1932 won't be around for much longer.

During a tour I gave in Hongkou to a relative, I pointed out a few areas which have been recently demolished. It would be a shame if this building gets added to the list. Later, I will post about a recently demolished neighborhood in walking distance from the fire station. When I went there last year I saw some of its remaining life. This year, the most lively thing I saw was a demonstration.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

For Sale on a Tricycle Cart in Hongkou

This weekend I didn't see another woman selling flowers from a push cart in Hongkou, Shanghai. But on a small bridge on Ha'erbin Road, I did see a woman selling assorted items from a tricycle cart.

woman sitting with a child next to a tricycle cart filled and covered with items for sale in Shanghai

She was mostly preoccupied with her mobile phone at the time. The child with her looked on and also watched some of the people and vehicles passing by.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Flowers for Sale on a Friday in Hongkou

Among other things I did today in Hongkou, Shanghai, I saw migrant workers outside a construction site demonstrate about missing pay, remembered the partially demolished neighborhood I had walked through there over a year ago, listened to a security guard for an art museum criticize Donald Trump, ate traditional plum flower cake with a black sesame filling, drank milk tea which had no taste of tea, and wondered about the history of the Hongkou Fire Station.

Watching a woman sell flowers from a cart alongside Sichuan North Road was something else I did. All I have mentioned would be suitable for a post, and I hope to share more about each of them someday in the future. But as I looked through today's photos, sharing some of the woman and her flowers felt most fitting for this Friday. The scenes make even more of an impression now than when I took the photos, perhaps because I have more time to reflect upon them. Or maybe because they now feel more isolated from the busy environment which surrounded them.

So here are two photos of a person I saw only briefly. Before I left the area, I saw her rolling her cart of flowers away. I didn't know why she had decided it was time to move on, and I didn't know where she was going.

woman selling flowers from a cart in Hongkou, Shanghai

woman selling flowers from a cart in Hongkou, Shanghai

Leaving a Concrete Mark in Shanghai

During a recent visit to Fuxing Island in Shanghai, a bike blocked my intended path.

bike blocking a large portion of the sidewalk along Gongqing Road in Shanghai

Similar obstructions are common on sidewalks in much of China, so I didn't spend much time thinking about it. I wouldn't even need to leave the sidewalk.

Although I was able to adjust my path without much problem, I suddenly had a sinking feeling. In two more steps I found myself on firmer ground and confirmed my hypothesis: I had walked in wet concrete.

footprints and bicycle tire mark in wet concrete

I have accidentally left similar marks in China on multiple occasions, such as my previous wet concrete incident earlier this year in Jieyang, Guangdong. So I am somewhat experienced in this area. My shoes were OK, and such is life.

Not long after my latest immersive experience, a woman approached on a path similar to my earlier one. Initially, she appeared to be confused as to why I so strongly encouraged her to stop, which she did just in time. But after looking for a few seconds at where I pointed, she smiled and walked around the patched area of the sidewalk. I soon headed onward myself after finishing taking a few photos of my latest contribution to China's concrete.

An hour later I passed by again and saw others had joined the collaborative project.

patch of drying concrete with even more footprints

The unmarked area of wet concrete fits a theme of more open construction spaces I have come across numerous times in Shanghai and many other cities in China, such as in Shangqiu and in Qingdao. But when I later looked at the photos I had taken, one caused me to wonder about a type of question I don't usually feel compelled to consider in these cases.

bike parked in a perfect location to guide people into walking on the wet concrete

Had the bike been deliberately placed in its location to increase the chance of people walking into the wet concrete? It was very well located in this regard, and a more out-of-the-way space in an area used by other bikes was open immediately in front of it. I don't doubt there are people who for one reason or another, perhaps even for art's sake, would do something like this. But it also seems plausible somebody parked the bike in its location without considering the potential impact, and perhaps the space was occupied before.

A question which I probably have a better chance of answering is whether the marks left by me and others will remain for a long period of time or, as when my footprint in the Jieyang concrete patch was removed, they will be short lived. I don't have plans to return to this location any time soon, if ever. So if any readers happen to be in the area someday, an update on the condition of this patched portion of sidewalk just south of Fuxing Island Park's western entrance would be most appreciated.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Snail-Like Flora and a Clothes-Collecting Panda in Shanghai

In yesterday's post about some giant shells I saw in Shanghai, I wrote "Unless I see a large snail sculpture tomorrow this probably concludes the recent series of creativity involving giant versions of things."

You can probably already see where this is going, so I will just share the relevant photo I took today.

plants next to each other which from one angle look like a giant snail

As I approached a small green area next to Yanshupu Road in Hongkou, Shanghai, I wondered if I was looking at bushes deliberately cut into the shape of a giant snail. On closer inspection, I discovered the apparent neck and head were one plant and the shell another. They only appeared to be possibly connected from a particular viewing angle and were separated by other vegetation. I doubt my initial impression of a snail was intended.

So close though.

Since I am back on this topic . . .

Not far from the snail, in a community off of Huimin Road I saw what could be mistaken for a large, but not huge, sculpture of a panda.

large clothes recycling bin in the shape of a panda in Shanghai

The panda is one of many which can be found in Shanghai, and they have a purpose beyond any sort of artistic expression. The pandas serve as bins for donating used clothes — just push in the panda's face and drop them in. According to an article in Shanghai Daily about technology included in newer panda bins to facilitate the collection process, a small percentage of the clothes are donated while the rest are recycled into products such as jeans and vegetable protection nets. However, some of the clothes are stolen out of the bins and end up elsewhere.

I have no other sightings of large versions of things to report from today. And I am confident I will be moving onto another topic next, though it too will relate to earlier posts. I will say something about my immersive experience with wet cement, yet again, later.

A Message on the Metro

young woman wearing a jacket with "SAY SOMETHING" on the back

A recent ride on the Shanghai metro reminded me it would be a good time to write and post more.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

More Giant Shells in China

After sharing photos of a giant ding and a a large shell-themed building in Dalian, I considered sharing a photo of shells. Unfortunately (or fortunately for shell-haters) I didn't have anything like that from Dalian. So, instead of shells, I shared a photo of a sculpture with large fish in Dalian.

I wasn't planning to continue the series further right now. But then, after lunch yesterday, I stumbled upon something miraculously perfect.

large sculptures of shells at a park in Shanghai

I am pretty sure the giant shells aren't real.

Based on the flora, some readers would likely also guess they aren't in Dalian. And indeed this scene is farther south. More specifically, the shells rest on the corner of a park at the intersection of Chongqing Road and Yan'an Road in Shanghai.

Unless I see a large snail sculpture tomorrow, this probably concludes the recent series of creativity involving giant versions of things.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

A Dalian Fish Sculpture

Instead of a large ding or large shells, a twisting sculpture in front of the Mykal department store at the intersection of Xi'an Road and Huanghe Road in Shahekou, Dalian, incorporates large fish.

sculpture of fish swimming in a twisted upward direction on a foggy / smoggy day in Dalian, China
 Whether you want to credit smog, fog, or both, you could say the water was murky that day.

Friday, December 2, 2016

A Shelled Building in Dalian

While walking around Xinghai Square in Dalian, I wondered about the purpose of one especially unusual building nearby. When I approached I found the fitting answer.

Dalian Shell Museum

It would be fitting to now share my impressions of the Dalian Shell Museum's collection, but when I was nearby I decided to spend my time on non-shell activities. Nonetheless, I was glad I took a closer look at some of the building's architectural features, designed by the Design Institute of Civil Engineering & Architecture at the Dalian University of Technology.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Dalian Ding

Earlier this year I posted a photo of some children under a large ding in Taiyuan. More recently in Dalian, I saw another large ding — this one of the four-legged variety. Although it stands in the middle of a pedestrian street, during my brief time in the area I didn't catch any moments of people walking or sitting underneath.

Large ding on a pedestrian-only section of Tianjin Street in Dalian, China
Large ding on a pedestrian-only section of Tianjin Street in Dalian

Monday, November 28, 2016

Bowing and Waving: Contrasting Statues of Japanese Prime Ministers in China

Steve George, a journalist for CNN International, recently commented on a photo of a statue at a mall in Northeast China.

statue of Abe Shinzo with a Hitler-style mustache and bowing

I wasn't surprised to see how Shinzo was depicted or to later discover that the mall is in Shenyang, where six years ago I saw rows of statues depicting the "disgraceful end of the Japanese aggressors" — all in a similar pose — at a museum.

However, the photo also reminded me of a contrasting set of statues I saw several weeks ago between a Starbucks and a Burger King at the ICITY shopping center in Dalian, another city in Liaoning province.

The statues of five world leaders, past and present, were all clearly labeled.

statue of Barack Obama in Dalian, China
"President of the U.S.: Barack Obama"

statue of Nicolas Sarkozy in Dalian, China
"President of France: Nicolas Sarkozy"

statue of Vladimir Putin in Dalian, China
"Prime Minister of Russia: Vladimir Putin"

statue of Bill Clinton in Dalian, China
"President of the U.S.: Bill Clinton"

statue of Junichiro Koizumi in Dalian, China
"Prime Minister of Japan: Junichiro Koizumi"

Obama and Putin were the only current leaders of the set, and Putin is now the President of Russia. It was the statue of the previous Prime Minister of Japan which most caught my eye. Unlike the statue in Shenyang, the design showed no sign of humiliation or apology. Or even a Hitler mustache. Instead, the statue of Koizumi was on equal footing with the others and greeted shoppers as they exited one of the two facing elevators.

elevator doors at the ICITY shopping center in Dalian, China

The statue in Shenyang reflects the anti-Japanese sentiment common in China. But as Chinese traveling to Japan during a Victory Over Japan holiday last year indicated, the full story of Chinese attitudes towards the country and its people is complicated. The statue of the Japanese prime minister in Dalian appears to be representative of a more positive side.

Koizumi did have some small scruff marks though.

statues of world leaders at a mall in Dalian, China