Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Along Nanjing to the Bund

[Nanjing Rd, Shanghai, May 2008]

On the 21st May 2008 I wrote in my diary: 
"I am in a restaurant in the French Concession called Sasha's. Bit up-market for me. I am surrounded by rich Shanghai women eating lunch. I have a pint of beer. Last night I walked along Nanjing Rd, being hounded by two touts, one spruiking women ("massage"), the other fake goods (I apparently need a new watch).I endured their questions because I needed a light (airports steal my lighters). Then I found a convenience store and I couldn't get rid of them (they followed me in and, much to my consternation, wanted to help me choose a drink and get a lighter). The watch-tout gave up on me shortly after the convenience store. I endured the massage-tout for another 400m till we reached the Bund. My head was buzzing with the adrenalin of getting off an international flight at night. It is more sensible to arrive anywhere in the morning, because you can find your bearings easier, get around easier, etc., but it is ten times more fun to arrive at night. And the Bund added to this enjoyment."

[The group on the left are looking at jewellery on a small stall. The guys squatting on the right are selling a rotating "laser" toy. The buildings in the background are selling capitalism. Shanghai, May 2008.]

The Bund is like a pier. People wander along it, take in the views, buy some food or cheap trinkets, watch passers-by, practice dancing on its smooth pavement, etc. Like a pier you go nowhere. You walk up and down. It is an end in itself.