Shanghai or Bust

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Shaghai Impressions

The first thing on needs to know about Shanghai is that it is the fastest growing city in the world in a country that is the fastest growing economy in the world. This means things happen fast. Traffic moves fast buildings go up fast. It is said that a building of over thirty stories goes up every week. Basically this city has been built in fifteen years. Fifteen times fifty two is a lot of buildings that are over thirty stories high. I am from a town located outside of Boston massachusetts. Boston has an area where there are large office buildings. You can drive through it on the big dig, when there is no traffic, in about seven minutes. There are a lot of apartment buildings there I am sure in the thousands. I don't think many of them are near or more than thirty stories high. Shanghai has a footprint that is about a quarter the size of Rhode Island. It is not all city. While I was landing there I saw more green houses than I have ever seen anywhere. Never the less , the whole city is zoned as a special designation industrial zone. It would be anyones guess as to when this enormous growth will end but it shows no sign of stopping.

Through some of the windows in this apartment is visible a brand new high-rise construction project. It has been fascinating for me to take time off occasionally at different times in the day to watch the people and the machines at work thirty stories beneath us. So far it has been mostly excavation work. Just today some of the foundation footprints started to take shape. I see a lot of progress every day because they are working on it twenty four hours a day.

The first impression I had about Shanghai and more generally about China, was that the air supply is probably the worst in the world . When I entered Chinese air space, I moved from the pristine environment of the Arctic circle into a endless expanse of yellow clouds. Trade wind here blow west to east. Shanghai, being in the east, gets the accumulation of all the industrial pollution from the west plus all the exhaust from the local traffic. They don't have emission standards for automobiles here. The air outside on a normal day is like the air in an underground parking lot after a professional baseball game gets out.

The language is a huge barrier for me . Some of the sounds are very unfamiliar to my tongue. There are subtleties of difference in some of the sounds that make it hard to discern which sound it is they are saying. Though I have been here two weeks and study a little every day I rarely here a familiar phrase. I have managed to construct a few sentences and memorized a few others "wo bu shou zhong-wen" ; "I don't speak Chinese". Mind you, I am no linguist. I am sure a younger brain would have a much better time of it.

Myrick's command of the language is pretty amazing! He can blab on and on and sounds like a chinese guy when he does so. Evan so to Chinese people! He is a good teacher and gives me great insight into the language all of which go in one ear and out the other but manage to all get into my little notebook for further study.

Well , that's all for now. Tomorrow ; "the great firewall of china".


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