This is my second attempt at a post from Shanghai. I hope this one doesn’t get eaten by the Great Firewell as well…
Imagine a spoof on a high-tech sci-fi movie. Above you tower outrageous, flamboyant steel-concrete-and-glass high-rises, all marked by an absurdist flourish – a pincer-like peak, an incongruous swoop of concrete halfway up, a bulbous pincushion balanced at the top. Below you crawl narrow alleyways of the old city, laundry flapping in the breeze, the chiming of bike bells you hear only after the rider has practically knocked you over to get by, delicious scents wafting out of tiny storefronts. That’s Shanghai.
Also, it’s 37 degrees (around 100). *Everything* is concrete, so walking the streets is like walking in a pizza oven. The humidity is around 85 percent…so really, it’s like walking around a Bikram yoga studio. And there are no benches to sit and rest *anywhere*, except in the subway. So guess where people sit and hang out? Oh – and green spaces? Nope – paved over. Even the famous Yuyuang (sp?) Garden is paved. So yeah. It’s hot.
The good news is that yesterday I ran into a French couple I had met in Beijing (not the French daughter-father team, another set of Frenchies). We and a few others from the hostel went to a fantastic show. There Be Powers, a Brooklyn-based self-described “ghost punk” band, was headlining. But the band that had invited them over to China, a local band called Carsick Cars, was the highlight. People kept comparing them to Sonic Youth, and it’s not an onfair comparison. They’re playing in a Chinese rock music festival (?!) in New York this October or November (can’t remember for sure). I don’t know about the other bands, but Carsick Cars is definitely worth it. Rock and roll!
OK. There’s a line forming behind me for access to the free machines. I’m gunna run. BTW the plan is to take a train to Wuhan, leaving here tomorrow night arriving on Tuesday. I spend one night in Wuhan, up early for Eclipse Day (yay!) on Wednesday, and then (I hope) take a train to Xi’an. After that, it’s back to Beijing to catch a train to Mongolia, hopefully arriving there before August begins.
OK, I’m about to hit the “publish” button. Wish me luck….