Tuesday, June 10, 2014

China 2014 part 3 - Shanghai


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0111. A cool rats' nest of HVAC ducts below the hotel.

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0112. A neighboring rooftop.

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0113. Along People's Square in the morning light.

As usual, I was up with the sun.  This is good, because I have to get the first goddamned train to Hongqiao tomorrow morning -- that, and being finally over jetlag will give me more of Shanghai today.

The shirts are all set -- fitba tops, getting it done again -- but the camera battery is dogging it a little.  I'm running a spare along today, and will probably reload it in Qingdao tomorrow night.

Owing to an early start, I hit the Bund before it got busy, and saw it without the crowds.

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0114. Eastwards into the sun.

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0115. A wall full of power supplies.  This wasn't the only Schneider outlet on the way over.

v08. Through a narrow arcade, hiking towards the Bund.

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0116. Old Shanghai.

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0117. First sight of Pudong, like something out of Star Wars.

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0118. Next trip, planning in progress.

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0119. Monument at the north end of the Bund.

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0120. Down along the bank.

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0121. Pudong backlit.

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0122. Closer on "Big Ching".

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0123. The Chairman in bronze.

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0124. Flowers on the embankment wall.

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0125. Face of the Development Bank.

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0126. Of course there's one here -- if there's one philosophy in Shanghai, it's that the boom will last forever, and when it doesn't, that the next one's just around the corner.

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0127. Second Empire corner over some trees.

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0128. The signal tower at the south end of the Bund.

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0129. Color on an east-west street.

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< 0130. Up at the crows' nest.

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0131. Back along the Bund north.

Since it was so damned early still, I took a rest to eat some extra breakfast and neck the bottle that finally gave me a Suntory cap.  I've got a fitba-edition Tsingtao in the bag and a lead on a third cap, but there's limits to how much Westerners can drink in public, even early in the morning, without pulling aggro.  I'll give the ferry a shot after seven.

I missed the 7:15, but caught the 7:45.  Well in.

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0132. Ship's wheel, heading for the ferry.

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0133. The Bund from the dock.

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0134. Luggers in the river.

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0135. Pearl Tower and northish Pudong.

v09. Cargo luggers running upriver.

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0136. The Hai Da Hai headed up, and a tug to get it through the corners.

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0137. Up to south Waitan from the dock.

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0138. More river traffic.

Those accustomed to the Star ferries of Hong Kong for your 2元 short-channel service will be in for a thump in Shanghai.  Rather than lay out for gangplanks, the drill here is to have floating, repairable, docks, and a good strong rubbing strake on the ferry, so it can belly in and slam into the pier to get tied up.  The first time the ship hits, you may lose your balance; afterwards, any regular subway rider should be able to handle it.

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0139. Harbor patrol and offices.

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0140. Still it goes up.

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0141. And up.

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0142. With this many highrises, developers have to set theirs apart.  These have nothing on the ones out in the suburbs with replicas of the Big Ching clock tower as capitals.

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0143. Not the only bank yacht on this pier, but probably the most awesome.

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0144. Upriver, turning in to Pudong.

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0145. A look up on landing.

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0146. Taiping towers.

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0147. A clean shot on this still unfinished spire.

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0148. Pearl Tower over foliage.

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0149. Swank riverfront bar.

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0150. The Bund is nationalized, but the criminals just shifted their base east.

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0151. Up at the Aurora building.

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0152. There's a Friday's right across from this, but this is more photogenic.

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0153. Facade of the Super Brand Mall.

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0154. Shrine on the pavement.

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0155. Fire department in action.  As I was going past, there was an evac of the mall underway, which I thought was a drill until the engines showed up.  In contrast to racist expressions you might have heard, the evacuation was orderly and well-conducted, at speed, and the fire brigade deployed directly and effectively.  Let's reuse the slur with an opposite meaning.

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0156. Traffic circle topiary.

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0157. South-southwest to skyscrapers.

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0158. The Pearl Tower reflected.

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0159. Welcome display inside.

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0160. For lucky cats, a catrobot or a Sanryo trademark is fine too.

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0161. Not field turf, more like a green carpet.

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0162. Back away from the tower.

To go in, I had to chug my second beer from the morning, but again my knife got waved through.  Apparently, western tourists, even the gigantic ones, don't need to get wanded.

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0163. Development in Pudong.

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0164. Hanging lanterns inside, waiting for the elevator.

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0165. Upstairs; a place I'm not going.

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0166. And another; I have to remember to use this pronunciation with "Xinjiang", and the other with "East Turkestan", which of course I didn't go to the lengths of writing down in the original notes I was going to be carrying on my person.

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0167. Down to the head of the Bund.

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0168. Shadow in the river.

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0169. North into Puxi.

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0170. Ceaseless regeneration.

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0171. The build stretches infinitely off towards the sea.

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0172. Down to older Pudong.

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0173. The signature tower of the World Financial Center.

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0174. West over the Bund.

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0175. It's been a long time since I strapped up in cleanroom booties -- fortunately, they have a "very largest pair" available on reserve for foreigners who show up with boats tied to the ends of their legs.

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0176. The start of the Space Capsule.  More for kids, but the booties and smooth floors allow for a perfect moonwalk; maybe not for kids, who don't necessarily know what that is or how to do it, but definitely for anyone else who isn't afraid of looking silly in front of anyone else who may happen along.

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0177. Pan along the top.

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0178. This sticks a lot closer to the concept than Toronto's, which also uses the "space capsule" name for the top floor.

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0179. Even the tourist-trap souvenir stand is futuristic.

v10. Strobing floors, waiting for the elevator.

v11. Van de Graaf arcs by laser in the elevator hatch.

0180. (not germane).

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0181. Obligato feet shot.

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0182. Houses not yet pushed out by development.

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0183. Down to the traffic circle from 0156.

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0184. Finally down to the arcade floor; localized Initial D machines are the first encountered.

According to my plan, it's the museum left here, then out by subway, but we'll see how things shake out.

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0185. Reflections in composition.

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0186. A Western house by the water.

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0187. Down to the Apple presence at the IFC.

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0188. Shooting around corners.

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0189. The neoclassical front of the PingAn Bank.

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0190. A villa behind the aquarium.

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0191. More buildings north along the river.

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0192. In the museum; examples of early cars in Shanghai.

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0193. A Buick Eight; the flat isn't political commentary, it's just original tires and inexpert curation.  Several of the Chinese-built cars of the current post-revolutionary period here have this problem as well.

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0194. A modern, Chinese-built Buick.

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0195. An elaborate wedding sedan chair.

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0196. It's pushing it a little to call the backbreaking practice of pre-mechanized agriculture "farmers' fun", but apparently it's politically necessary to describe cranking millstones by hand as a fun activity.

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0197. Through the corridors.  There's next to no original artifacts, and there's life-sized vignettes all over the place, making this less of a museum and more of a kung-fu movie set...which is ok as well.

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0198. Original boundary stone from one of the international concessions.

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0199. A view of old Shanghai.

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0200. Boundary markers from the American and French concessions.

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0201. Betting on a cricket fight.

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0202. German-style timberwork over a stairway.

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0203. Selection of a shoe shop.

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0204. Well corner posts from Jinjiang Road.

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0205. A big view of prewar Nanjing Road.

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0206. A model of the pre-colonization customs house.

Museum done, it was across the river on the subway to Yue Yuan.

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0207. Close old streets to the south.

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0208. The start of the garden block.

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0209. Gate in from Renmin Road.

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0210. An imposing corner.

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0211. Another on the close side.

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0212. Crossing to the Yue Yuan complex.

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0213. Inside the "classical street".  Note the brands everywhere; this whole area is a walled open-air mall of tourist traps that must be navigated to access the garden.  It is a masterpiece of commercial plotting.

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0214. A peaceful corner in the garden.

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0215. Gate and tower.

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0216. Building and some of the lake.

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0217. Bridge across the garden.

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0218. View through a pavilion.

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0219. Dragons on the roof.

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0220. Stones and the wall.

v12. Carp in the pond.

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0221. Past, present, future.

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0222. Tower and rocks.

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0223. Inside a memorial hall to the Small Knife Society, a peasant rising of the 1850s.

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0224. Dragon wall ornament.

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0225. Greenery and more of the dragon's back.

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0226. Corner with dragon and lion.

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0227. Long view across the pond.

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0228. The focus is the bush; the skyscraper needs shooped.

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0229. Door in the wall.

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0230. Pavilion and water below.

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0231. Almost natural.

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0232. A shock of red in the green.

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0233. Wall and tower.

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0234. Pavilion behind greenery.

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0235. Another view.

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0236. Across the Nine Turnings lake.

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0237. The rest of the bridge; it could not be more perfectly designed as a crowd-slower if it was put together by a committee of pickpockets and airport security line designers.

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0238. A corner heading up to Nanjing Road.  Fucked if I was going to get on the metro to go one stop.

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0239. An old colonial building on a corner.

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0240. Skyscrapers over Renmin Square.

Having toured hard, I got a big, yummy, and relatively cheap (24 yuan; street food is cheaper, but try getting this much good food for $4 stateside) at Yonghe Dawang in the World Emporium basement, and hit the hotel to wash up before going for the museums south of the park.  I'll probably do all of the "first-timer" menu in one day, which is good news for the big hikes in Qingdao to come.

Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center!

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0241. A Rivera-style frieze inside.

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0242. And the rest of it.

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0243. Miniature of the Yue Yuan in Qing times.

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0244. The museum centerpiece, a 1:650 recreation of all of Shanghai inside the first ring road.  The insane detail of this model is not adequately preserved in the photos.

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0245. Same view, at "night".

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0246. Looking along the HuangPu.

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0247. Up from the far south of the map.

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0248. A complex in the southwest corner.

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0249. The south center and a new stadium.

0250. (DNCO).

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0251. A model of the plane-train-metro integration at Hongqiao.

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0252. Looking north up the map.

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0253. Planned extensions; more structure and domination for the land.

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0254. Looking down from the next floor.

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0255. "Day" and a different angle.

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0256. End of the "Home In Shanghai" exhibit.

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0257. A sparkly endcap.

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0258. The pace of progress.

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0259. Starting from nothing.

To sink this in, get some masking tape and go in your living room, or wherever you have the most floor space.  Measure out a strip six and a half feet long.  Measure another one and put it at right angles to the first.  Connect them into a square.  You now have an idea of how big four square meters is.  If possible, find another 3-4 people to stand in this square with you.  This is how half a million Shanghai people lived at the time of the revolution.  Those memories are still remnant in the city, even as the median living space has increased, and the high end has gotten much more plush.

v13. A pan through the "Future City".  The museum curators around here sure like 2001.

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0260. Air-rail integration at Pudong.

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0261. If there's not enough island to have a deep-water container port, just build more.

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0262. Or hell, build two!

The most impressive thing about China is that no matter what the engineering problem is, it can be attacked and solved.  "Build a deep-water island" is something that can happen.  Enviro problems, maybe not so much, but those take time, and until this decade, there was zero official interest -- and limited, disunited, activism --  in the proposition "let's not shit all over everything".  But even that only requires commitment, as the regimentation of the countryside shows.

The point of this digression is that while the problems that the US faces do not generally involve building new islands, there's a real absence of the unbounded vision shown here to stand up and get them solved.  Part of that is that there's nothing like this museum/exhibit hall in the US; we don't, in general, plan cities so much as just kind of let them happen, which is an idea whose time is running out in the face of climate change.  We have a terminal allergy to the idea that governments can do anything correctly, but zero confidence that the market will ever select for anything but "whatever makes the most money right now".  The result is a societal paralysis that creates the stupidest problems imaginable: rural jobs that don't pay the cost to commute, San Francisco responding to increased housing demand by further reducing supply, facilities through empty neighborhoods draining Detroit dry.  There are simple solutions to all of these, but local autonomy stomps all over them, and the ideas behind solving them have become anathema.

Tell your friends that Shanghai is expanding green space as the population increases by destroying low-rise units and building taller, and if you go on long enough, you will eventually find one who starts screaming about Agenda 21, maybe while waving a firearm around.  That's where we're at: trying to solve problems is the end of national sovereignty.  Meanwhile, what China learned from the last 200 years is that if you ignore your problems for long enough, eventually other people come and solve them for you, and make parks in your cities that you're not allowed to enter, as a consequence of which they've been aggressively Solving Problems (yes, more than a few self-created, occasionally by the process of solving others) for the last 65 years.

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0263. Cranked up.  The rest of Xi Zi's stuff on this floor is also really cool.

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0264. Red flags still fly.

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0265. Clock tower under a corner.

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0266. New and old views.

I busted on beer with dinner, and discovered why I was so dead: roughly 25 km of hiking in 11 hours is kind of a lot.  For circadian reasons I can't go to sleep yet, but lying down and avoiding strain to my battered and crushed leg muscles is probably all that's left for the rest of the day.

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