Friday, December 24, 2010

Qi Bao Old Street: a cultural Disneyland

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Image by Fantake via Flickr
Yesterday, at a normal weekday, one of Shanghai's tourist attractions, the Qi Bao Old Street, reachable by subway no.9, was packed with people. While I felt initially a bit lost in this weird mixture of concrete, some old buildings, blaring propaganda loudhailers and occasional statue of Confucius and picture of the - still-disgraced - Lin Biao, the Chinese tourists did not seem to be bothered by this strange Disneyland of Chinese culture.
But what could attract them, I asked myself, when I wandered past the boring souvenir shops with overpriced products? I knew what they were coming for when we entered the food section of the two streets. Initially, it looked just like any food street anywhere in China, but the combination of really authentic food, in small shops for fair prices brought excitement in the thick crowds.
Even the fact that some of the shop owners had dressed up was barely noticed, as people jumped on the - indeed - delicious food. Would I advise Western tourists to take subway line 9 to visit this exhibit of pure Chinese tourism? When you are interesting in watching Chinese tourists, it is a great place. Otherw
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ise, do not bother. They won't miss you, since there are enough Chinese tourists around.

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