It is day three of eleven that I don’t have to work because of the Chinese New Year. On my first day of vacation, I did a bit of wandering around Tianzifang (田子坊) a small area of town where the original old buildings and little walking streets still remain and have been filled with cutesy touristy shops, bars, restaurants and art galleries.
This morning, I decided I would head out towards the site of the 2010 World Expo to take a look around and then perhaps head on over to the Bund. I started down Xizang Road, as I was told it would bring me right down to the Expo site, but about 10 minutes after I started walking I came across a metro station that I knew was in the opposite direction of where I wanted to go. Instead of wasting time backtracking on foot, I jumped on a train for 2 stops (my stop & then the next stop in the opposite direction) so I would be heading in the right direction at least.
The 2010 Expo in Shanghai ran from May 1st – Oct 31st and was attended by over 65 million people in the six months. The city of Shanghai spent over US$55 billion on preparations for the event, 20% more than was spent on the Beijing Olympics and over 180,000 families were relocated to make way for the Expo.
Before leaving my apartment, I had consulted a map and discovered the majority of the Expo site was on the Pudong side of Shanghai (I live in Puxi – west of the Huangpu River, Pudong is east of the Huangpu). Leaving the subway station I was put back on a street headed directly towards the river and I decided to see if I could walk to the other side! Unfortunately, there was a tunnel but for automotive traffic only, no pedestrians or bikes. Turning back I noticed behind the large concrete walls on either side of the road there were large gates – entrances to the Expo site. Now, completely blocked off and abandoned.
I headed down another main road, passing by part of the Expo site which was entirely blocked off, heading for the Nanpu Bridge to see if I could stroll across to Pudong. Along the way, I saw a couple deserted pavilions from the Expo, but everything was blocked off by concrete walls, high electric fences and extremely bored security guards. I made it to Nanpu and discovered walking to Pudong might not be an option. Content with my feet and wanting to explore without other means of transportation, I snapped a few pictures of the bridge (which can also be seen from my bedroom window) and continued heading up the river towards the Bund. Viewing of the Expo site – if even still allowed will have to wait.
When I was in Shanghai previously, the Bund was closed for construction as it was being prepared for the Expo so I wanted to check it out. On my way, as I strolled down Zhongshang Road, I wondered how all of the money put into the Expo really affected Shanghai. All around the former Expo site were tall concrete walls with signs boasting the theme “Better City, Better Life”, ads for luxury hotels along the Bund and ads for luxury brands. But on the other side of these walls, when everyone has abandoned the site and gone on to the normal hustle & bustle of life in Shanghai, what is left?
This street was probably much busier during the Expo, but now it is life as usual – with the abandoned Expo site across the street.
Life as usual.
Never completed high rise apartments.
Piles of rubble.
So, after the “Better City, Better Life” themed Expo and $55 billion dollars, Shanghai has some international pavilions, they had 6 months of increased tourism, they now have the largest railway system in Asia – with 492 km of track, and the citizens of Shanghai? Are the 180,000 relocated families experiencing the “Better Life”? Does the average Shanghainese person feel the impact of the Expo and it’s sub-themes of “Blending of diverse cultures in the city, Economic prosperity in the city, Innovation of science and technology in the city, Remodeling of communities in the city, and Rural-urban Interaction”? (from Expo Website)