Culture Shock! China - A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette, 2nd Edition

(Kiana) #1
2 CultureShock! China

Wild Wild East

Imagine living in a city where if you forget to pick up your dry
cleaning for just a week, you run the risk of losing it forever
because the block the Laundromat is located on is slated that
week for demolition. In 1995, that was the risk that you ran
of forgetting your dry cleaning for more than a few days in
Shanghai. Twenty-five per cent of the construction cranes in
the world were in Shanghai.
Imagine living in a city where the day you arrived, the
place known as Pudong was a single-standing TV tower,
grandiosely called ‘The Pearl of the Orient’, which looked
like a cross between a Jetson’s space home and a series of
onions skewered on a stick, standing amid farmland and
rundown wood shacks. A mere six years later, that same TV
tower was surrounded by a shining city of iconic architecture,
inhabited by millions, which hosted leaders from around the
world attending the 2001 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
(APEC) meetings. Global news broadcasts from the APEC
meetings made that skyline, which didn’t exist six years
before, the new image of modern China.
When we arrived in China in
1995, it was like living in the
wild, wild east. Nothing was
possible and everything was
possible. You were coated each
day with the construction dust

Each week, city blocks were
moving parts of a giant puzzle,
whose complete picture would
be the modern day, world-class
city that will host the World Expo
in 2010.

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