Friday, April 30, 2010

What A Bummer

You probably haven't heard, but Shanghai is hosting the World Expo this year (in fact, opening day has arrived literally as this post is being automatically uploaded). I certainly would not have more than a vague sense of this fact had we not lived in China and been to Shanghai a number of times.

Quick trivia question...Where were the last three World Expos held?

One little piece of news concerning the city's preparations for the Expo has really distressed Desi and me, given that food is often at the center of our adventures, both locally and globally. Wujiang Lu, one of our favorite little food streets, has apparently been shut down as part of the process of sprucing up the city for its big moment.

Now, I'm not one to normally pine over the destruction of old Chinese neighborhoods, as the living conditions can be pretty basic (to put it mildly). I know, by the way, that this view runs contrary to the one I'm supposed to have as a Westerner. And there are exceptions to my normal thought pattern. The ongoing tearing down of the old city in Kashgar, so movingly documented by Glenn Mott, is a loss that can never be replaced.

On a much, much smaller scale, moving the Wujiang Lu vendors from the street into an air conditioned mall strikes me as a blow to Shanghai's vibrancy going forward. After all, it's not like the place was a dump. Why not tighten up inspections, make cosmetic renovations, and let the place live on better than ever (kind of like what happened a few years ago on Wangfujing)?

Maybe we'll just have to give the new digs a chance...


PS: 2008--Zaragoza, Spain; 2006--Royal Flora Ratchaphruek, Thailand; 2005--Aichi, Japan.

PPS: That's Haibao, the mascot for this year's Expo.


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