Hangzhou (杭州)

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Distracted

I was surfing and reading other expatriate blogs when I noticed some sort of concerted cheers coming from somewhere down below. Apparently, the construction of the building next door is proceeding at a rapid pace and has reached the phase where outside decoration is being put -- that includes grown up trees and other ornaments. The concerted cheers emanated from the workers erecting a tree (with a bit of help from a small crane -- but China still looks like the land of the mythical man month) Live plants are packaged with a vegetal fiber rope arranged as a loose bag around the dirt ball that's still attached to the roots.

In less than a week, the crappy old wall (dressed with revolutionary slogans) and the modest housings it protected have been leveled and now some western style landscaping connects the building future entrance to the street. Earlier during the week, a hole was dug and the remains of the older constructions thrown in -- I couldn't help but imagine that these house have been people's home for a while: peasants lived, loved, gave birth and died on what is now just a lawn.

Here, in the Binjiang district, you find 21st century modern housing being erected 10 meters away from a street where a more traditional living takes place: people cook, wash plates and utensils, wash their hairs right on the street. Litter is pushed aside for dogs to share. I ended in one of these streets this week-ended, it has been a memorable experience. Contrary to the appearance, these people aren't poor, their land (which technically doesn't belong to them -- land belongs to the State here) is worth a lot of money and if construction projects progresses in their direction, they'll quickly become quite rich.

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