Shopping Sorrows

I was very much looking forward to hitting the antique markets today to see what I could find and even better was that there was a whole street closeby! So I put on my walking shoes and headed out towards the Dongtai Lu Antique Markets.

While walking past big shiny shopping malls, I was picturing myself rummaging through cool old stuff and finding something unique. Unfortunately, I shouldn't have been surprised when I reached my destination and saw that 95% of the area had been razed! What was new was that directions were left to show the new location of the markets. Great...

Progress; bi-lingual directions left in a razed area.

Progress; bi-lingual directions left in a razed area.

I nevertheless walked down the street that the antique markets used to be on and found that there were still some shops hanging on. I spoke with one of the shop owners and asked her if she lived in or above her shop. Luckily she didn't but had owned her shop for 23 years and she's still in negotiations with the developers. I asked if she was moving to the new location and she said she wasn't sure yet.

Left to right, top to bottom: a recylcer going through the razed remains, you can see at the very top of this buidling that it was built in 1923, the current state of Dongtai Lu (street), shop of the lady I spoke with, a man lovingly polishing an antique piece of furniture, antique street vendor, the entrance to Dongtai Lu, a sign pointing me to the antique market's new location and tada! This is where they are now... I was so depressed.

Left to right, top to bottom: a recylcer going through the razed remains, you can see at the very top of this buidling that it was built in 1923, the current state of Dongtai Lu (street), shop of the lady I spoke with, a man lovingly polishing an antique piece of furniture, antique street vendor, the entrance to Dongtai Lu, a sign pointing me to the antique market's new location and tada! This is where they are now... I was so depressed.

After seeing the new location of the antique 'markets' I was so depressed that I went back to the shop-owner I spoke with and bought a few things from her. I told her that the new location wasn't great... but I think she already knew.

Isn't it funny how westerners enjoy farmers' markets, flea markets and any other such open-air gatherings? I'm sure the Chinese enjoy it as well! Weekends filled with treasures to be discovered, vibrant personalities and rich colours always gives me a great sense of community. It's an opportunity to watch people come together; to interact with one another, to exchange stories, to share common interests and the like.

It seems China, on the other hand, is moving away from all of that. Authorities and/or developers take everyone off the streets and put them into sterile, uniform and stuffy buildings. Maybe they think they're doing everyone a favour, maybe they just want the space but to me, it's very sad to see these street scenes being removed. Unfortunately it'll take China probably another 20 years of development before they realise how much they've lost through their race for progress.