During a presentation today, somewhere in Shanghai in a tall shiny building, a slide went up showing Shanghai’s PuDong skyline in 1990; green, flat, open space; and Pudong in 2014; packed with skyscaper after skyscraper, the new avatar of this megacity. In 24 years it is almost unfathomable how much a place can change. It is pretty. It is cool. Is it good? Surely for somebody. Is it bad? Oh, surely in a few ways as well. But is it real – at this point I can tell you it is very real.
I feel like I grew up in the era where people said China would be an economic powerhouse, and now I live as an adult in that world. But somehow it is always a media story, always filtered through the internet and second hand stories, when you see it up close, that is when the world as you know it looks very different. That is when predictions and forecasts become reality.
“They don’t speak much english,” my fellow travelers often remark about people in Shanghai. — Why should they? It is their world. This one and the big one out there. And the way this powerful wind blows, it is for us to learn about them far less then it is for them to learn about us. Even if both of those would be beneficial to all and fun.
I can’t yet tell you about Shanghai. After seven days I probably still won’t be qualified or capable. But here on the ground in South Shanghai where buildings are low and the streets are empty at night, it is above all an interesting and intricate world. I’m only in the beginning phases of getting to know it.
Since it started some 14 years ago, this website has been a chronicle of some unforgettable journeys to various corners of the Earth. Being able to share observations and lessons learned has long been one of the pleasures of keeping this place running.
This week, another milestone in the adventure category: I’m off to Shanghai, China.
Shanghai, city of legend, city of the masses, this benchmark for both the past and present, and probably the future too. Biggest city in the world. Economic powerhouse. These are the factoids I read and influence how I approach this journey. I expect crowds. I expect noise. I expect dumplings!
Stay tuned. After a sleepy few months, there are going to be travel stories on CTRP again!
The wonderful and talented Shelby Earl came to Amsterdam to perform as part of her Swift Arrows European Tour. The evening, which took place at the fantastic Studiobar, included a performance as well as a Q and A hosted by yours truly. Here is a podcast of that magical evening.
Not since the cold war has the world needed to take a time-out from political posturing and the information game to get beyond the gate keepers and speak directly with the people referred to as “Russia”. Not unlike 25 years ago, we in the west are once again talking about a people as if they cannot be spoken with and do not have a wide range of opinions and values. Over in Russia, similar is happening with what the media refer to as “the west”.
Enter the power of the podcast:
On today’s program I am coming to you from Moscow, the heart of the nation that so many are talking about these days with angry and confused tones. But this is not about Ukraine or Putin. This is about the city, life, culture, changes, and other developments that remind us of the wealth of things we citizens of planet earth have in common. Today we speak with my friend Victor, an resident and keen observer of this country and its culture, to hear what he sees and has seen.