Miles from Home

China Commentary– Youthful Musings on the Environment, Culture & Development

Shanghai in words…

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I’ve been pounding pavement the last few days. Each day I try to set a survivor list of what I must accomplish in order to feel slightly secure before sleeping at night. It’s bizarre leaving such a settled, comfortable life for a new city and a new frontier. But hey, this is what I have become.

Shanghai has not let me down. I anticipated a mix between Taipei and Hong Kong. Upon some exploration I would say that is pretty spot on, with a touch of Bangkok sprinkled in. The Chinese are quite good at tucking away the unsavory side of life. Skyscrapers are a much more quintessential vantage point then the squalor of slums I have seen tucked behind walls. But it is obvious that China is hemming those cracks together– here, particularly. Construction is everywhere, and on a massive scale. Cranes, huge buildings, soon to be malls and hotels. I see now why people are concerned the weight will sink this city on a delta.

I have taken some pictures, though I hate feeling like such a gaper. Growing up in the ski resort of Breckenridge, it was always the least cool thing to be. A tourist. Uhhh, I shudder. But I admit, I am the wandering, map-pulling-out, camera-carrying rip-off target. Thus far, I am holding my own. Though my decision to book a hotel online left me out in the boonies.

Tomorrow, I will move into an apartment. A ritzy, new place too big for me. My Taiwanese family has an apartment here for the father’s business, and he decided to set me up. Amazing family. Still, I think it will be a bit far from “life.” It is in Pudong, which has the air of a commercial park. I hopped the metro to my campus and it was a meandering, cross-city circus of a time. But it will be base camp for a while, and I am grateful to have a few drawers to unpack my life.

One cannot help noticing the onslaught of media hype around the Olympics. The fever is high here, posters and symbols adorn just about everything. Both local and foreign news run stories nightly, though the foreign TV channels in my hotel are quite few in number. The West is really slamming Beijing, going to great lengths to point out that China is only speaking positively about the Games– thus insinuating a lot of the story is going untold. It strikes me as quite slanderous. No country is going to come out and start discussing all the dilemmas they are having just 363 days before the Games, that’s nonsense. I cannot help feeling China has done much to mold itself into what the West wanted it to become– the factory of the world, with an open(ning) market. Now, as China ascends more rapidly than Western nations could have ever predicted, those same friends are acting awful quick to try and keep China in its “place,” i.e. subservient to the interests of Western capitalism and weaker than Western forms of government.

I will have a lot more to say about this once I get my bearings– and once I book my tickets to Beijing baby! I’ll try to get photos and some goofy (“Tylermentary”) videos up in a few days.


One Response

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  1. Congrats on your bravery and accepting the fact that you don’t know anything. The two go together more often than not. Everything sounds so exciting. Looking forward to those tourist pics. Did you remember to wear a Hawaiian shirt and fanny pack?

    To update you on me. I got a job as an assistant editor for the Queens Tribune, in New York City. So, I’m also trying to make home in a foreign and ostensibly hostile environment. I leave in a couple weeks.


    August 10, 2007 at 1:26 pm

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