|Futuristic and mundane on the riverfront.|
|Buddhist temple reflected in a massive skyscraper.|
TWENTY TWO million people: Han Chinese, minority groups, expats, transients from the world over, and of course, tourists, origamied into apartment blocks, hotels and dwellings which from the air look like a complex circuit board, laid out with efficient precision. Leafy lined avenues, lush and peaceful, modest homes and share housing with outdoor wash troughs men stripped to the waist, bathing (too intrusive to photograph) interspersed with opulent mansions and slick luxurious high rise apartments and offices. Rickety appearing, but solid old wooden homes, cheek to jowl with edgy futuristic architecture, demanding: “look at me”. So many styles; confusing in their diversity; jostling for space to breathe, a little room to stretch.
|Old House Hotel and excellent Purple Onion restaurant|
|View from Old House Hotel, complete with ivy!|
I find this a beguiling city, full of complexity and contradictions. This pulsating metropolis seems comfortable in its own skin, firmly set with its roots in different times with different players vying for power, but clearly looking to the future. Historic buildings meander along the riverfront, some beautiful art deco, solid, steeped in history. Ferries full of excited visitors skitter across the river, thankfully avoiding container vessels and massive barges, reminders that this is a working river, not just a beautiful foreground for the eye-catching buildings.
|Apple store and Pearl Tower|
|Reflections shimmer on the Apple|
Traffic, which at first seems to be a muddle of cars, taxis, bicycles, electric motorbikes and men pulling carts laden with painfully heavy loads settles into a pattern, a dance of weaving elegance and tolerance. Perhaps there’s an awareness or acceptance that to house such a huge population, arrogant aggression and selfish road rage have no place - would upset the delicate balance. Against all odds it works, and I feel envious of a culture where ‘giving the finger’ and vicious, ugly and profane words and phrases are not part and parcel of one’s daily driving experience.
|The old and new.|
|Low rise streetscape and umbrellas always ready|
for rain or shine!
|Leafy lined boulevard in The French Concession -|
note the lady with the umbrella on her electric scooter.