The really old rubs elbows with the super new in today’s China

Shanghai, People’s Republic of China (2010)

The ancient tradition of tàijíquán carries on in the face of modern convenience


One morning as I left the hotel early to get a good start to my day of exploring Shanghai, I was met with the scene above.  People getting up early to pratice Tai ji (Tai Chi) is a common enough sight in China, you can find it early in the morning anywhere there is enough space, the thing that struck me was the 7-11 in the background. 

Traditional architechture of a famous tea house in the Yuyuan tourist market

For me, this photo depicts a very broad, yet poignant, summation of today’s China:  it’s East meets West; vestiges of the very old surviving even as it is surrounded on all sides by the very new.  But of course this is Shanghai, itself an old city with a rapidly growing new face.

The rapidly growing skyline of the Pudong side, as seen from the Bund (Puxi side)

Evidence of this can be found in a minor annoyance of being a tourist in Shanghai: trying to get a cab from the Puxi side to the Pudong side of the Huangpu river (or vice versa). Often cab drivers are loathe to get stuck on one side or the other during rushhour, as there are only so many ways to get across.  But a few decades ago, the Pudong side of the city didn’t even exist, what is now towering skyscrapers was just the flat green fields of farms. 

"Here be Dragons!" a favored mythical beast of the Chinese in the Yuyaun Gardens.


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