I am in China this week and next, here for the ISME [International Society of Music Educators] biennial conference. First I will be at the Community Music Activity Commission, which meets this coming week in Hangzhou, then in Beijing the following week for the main International Congress. I’m presenting papers at both events, looking at the strategies I’ve developed for developing creative music and composition in ESL classrooms. Hangzhou is only 2 hours by train from Shanghai, so I decided to arrive a few days early and be a tourist.

Yesterday I walked around the Bund, found my bearings somewhat and admired the heritage architecture. There were many, many local tourists (as in, Chinese, not foreigners) who were suitably agog at the sights. The view across the river to the newer Pudong district is filled with space-age skyscrapers. I kept passing groups of out-of-towners resting in the shade, their shoes off. But you won’t see them in the photo below – I feel rude if I point my camera at specific people. I liked the red flags at the top of this building – in the afternoon sun they had a sharpness to them which the photo below doesn’t really do justice to.

I was trying to find the train ticket office to buy my Hangzhou ticket in advance, but after a couple of hours of wandering (and wondering) it was still eluding me. I found myself in East Nanjing St, which is the big shopping mecca, filled with people. This building is home to Jeans West, and hopefully gives you an idea of the number of people who were out shopping on a Saturday afternoon:

I wandered into some alleyways. Lots of these have signs at the entrance, suggesting there are businesses and shops inside that members of the public can go to. The couple that I walked through had blue and green plastic exercise equipment near either entrance, a kind of home-gym opportunity to encourage people to keep fit, presumably. There were chalkboards with what seemed to be community service announcements on them, accompanied by colourful cartoon drawings. They were written in chalk, and could have been rubbed off at anytime. This one explains (I think) that if people are engaging in obnoxious behaviour, sensible citizens should go and get someone in authority to sort it out.

This last set of pictures were more for children, reminding them to do helpful things like pick up rubbish and put it in the bin.

Certainly Shanghai is a very clean city, with the footpaths and roads clear of rubbish. Unlike Paris, which will forever retain the Premier Prix in my mind for street filth. There, I had to keep my eyes on the road because of the steaming mounds of dog poo that seemed to be deposited every hundred metres or so. Here, happily, it is safe to gaze upwards at the beautiful buildings and wander without sidestepping.

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