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Once Around The Block

One thing that has struck us deeply about Shanghai is that people from all walks of life live right on top of one another. As far as I know, neighbourhoods are not divided into rich and poor; there is no Beverly Hills of Shanghai, there is no Skid Row.

The closet thing to a fancy neighbourhood in central Shanghai is Xintiandi, which is reminiscent of Old Town Pasadena (including its very own branch of Cold Stone Creamery). An apartment in one of the developments there can go for around $6 million.

Yet, in two minutes, you can walk from one of these elite apartment buildings, with doormen, high-tech security, and apartments bigger than most American houses, into warrens of run down buildings filled with families renting single rooms and sharing bathrooms, kitchens, and water supplies.

This made my photo exercise for today, One Block, far more fascinating than it might have been in another city.

I stepped out of our hostel and turned left. There, I found old Shanghai in all its glory.

On the streets, Shanghai, One Block photography exercise.

On the streets, Shanghai, One Block photography exercise.

This tiny brick home sit above a shop and no doubt the whole place is rented or owned by the person who runs the shop. Fancy serviced apartments run by Marriott tower over it.

Brick house, Shanghai, One Block photography exercise.

Brick house, Shanghai, One Block photography exercise.

This pile of bamboo has been sitting on the street all week, just waiting to be put up into scaffolding.

Bamboo scaffolding in a pile, Shanghai, One Block photography exercise.

Bamboo scaffolding in a pile, Shanghai, One Block photography exercise.

The street is always full of life, with each of the shops displaying their merchandise on the sidewalks.

Shopping for pet supplies, Shanghai, One Block photography exercise.

Shopping for pet supplies, Shanghai, One Block photography exercise.

All manner of animals are available to buy. I’m still not sure if they’re meant for food or as pets.

White bunny breaks free, Shanghai, One Block photography exercise.

White bunny breaks free, Shanghai, One Block photography exercise.

The caged bird, Shanghai, One Block photography exercise.

The caged bird, Shanghai, One Block photography exercise.

Stick your neck out, Shanghai, One Block photography exercise.

Stick your neck out, Shanghai, One Block photography exercise.

There are also the requisite noodle shops, vegetable sellers, and plant stores.

Table centre or garlic supply, Shanghai, One Block photography exercise.

Table centre or garlic supply, Shanghai, One Block photography exercise.

There are plenty of people just hanging out.

Typical Shanghai kid with cell phone, Shanghai, One Block photography exercise.

Typical Shanghai kid with cell phone, Shanghai, One Block photography exercise.

Around the corner is the posh shopping street, East Nanjing Road.

View towards People's Park, Shanghai, One Block photography exercise.

View towards People’s Park, Shanghai, One Block photography exercise.

There is always a line at this candy store, but I couldn’t figure out why it was so popular.

Always busy, Shanghai, One Block photography exercise.

Always busy, Shanghai, One Block photography exercise.

Even on this expensive street, you just need to duck your head into an alleyway to see the modest places most people live.

Modest homes, Shanghai, One Block photography exercise.

Modest homes, Shanghai, One Block photography exercise.

Yet, there is also the opportunity to buy the car of your dreams.

Ferrari, Shanghai, One Block photography exercise.

Ferrari, Shanghai, One Block photography exercise.

After you’re done shopping for your Ferrari (or Maserati, which is right next door), you can stop in at Starbucks for a latte, or go around the corner and hang your laundry out to dry.

Doing laundry, Shanghai, One Block photography exercise.

Doing laundry, Shanghai, One Block photography exercise.

One block, so many different lifestyles.

We are so thankful to be affluent enough to enjoy all aspects of it (well, maybe not the Maseratis). and so lucky to be reminded every day that people are the same, whether they live in a $6 million apartment, or in the room at the back of their pet shop.

Tomorrow I take a closer look at the architecture of Shanghai.  

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1 Comment

  1. Diane says:

    Great post Jane. It really illustrates the old and the new and how they mange to blend. I think there is a lesson in that.