Monday, March 05, 2007

North Wulumuqi Lu

Wulumuqi Lu is a road that runs through central Shanghai. The landscape varies, but for much of it, it's packed with pedestrians and with businesses catered to these pedestrians. In fact, the street it so nice, it got named twice! Like a lot of streets in Shanghai, it's named after a Chinese province, or city in this case. This city is part of the semi-autonomous Uighur state Xiangyang, "Urumqi" is a direct transliteration of the city's name in the local language. "Wulumuqi" is a transliteration of the Chinese transliteration of "Urumqi." Shanghai sign-makers seems to have settled on "Wulumuqi" a while back, but both roman spellings are out in force.

There's a large High School on the far North end of the street, here the students are busy playing basketball. When the high school gets out, the area changes character, being overwhelmed with kids getting snacks, looking at shops, and most of all clogging the streets with amazing amounts of bikes. During most of the day, the immediate surroundings to the school are peaceful, cobble-stone streets with nice trees and benches.

As would be expected, there's a couple stores dedicated to school books and school supplies and all that. But the large majority of the nearby stores are dedicated to cute things of all forms, especially little dolls. They're often of popular Japanese or American cartoon characters.

Here's a fun shot of a kid with her mom, although I chose the wrong moment to play around with the focus. The mom went around riding with the kid standing up in front - which was probably a blast for the kid, whether or not it's safe. Sometimes bikes and mopeds are over-loaded, but usually from carrying things. And the bikes always crowd the roads, even if it's worst when school or work gets out.

Tibetans sell knick-knacks alongside the street. It's a common site to see around busy areas of Shanghai. They have orange roll-up blankets. When a certain type of policeman comes, they lackadaisally roll up the blankets and wait maybe fifteen minutes before rolling them back out.

Here's a typical sample of what's being sold. Some bohemian-looking jewelries, and some weapons! These weapon-knives have blades nearly a foot long, and really look incredibly scary. There's also collapsible metal batons, which aren't quite as effective for hitting people over the head as a baseball bat, but are easily concealable on the person - they're illegal in California. I don't know why anybody who isn't a psycho killer would want to buy either of these things.

There's various small food stands on the street, such as this guy with an oil barrel on wheels, he's using it to barbeque sweet potatoes.

Here a lady grabs a quick bite, between roasting chestnuts. They're cooked in a large wok amid lots of small pebbles, it's all heated from underneath.

And there's also a number of fruit stands. There's no prices, you bargain about it. I hate that.

There's older houses right off the street, although they're often hidden from view. Partly it's because Shanghai houses have to face South, which may or may not face the road, there's perhaps a good reason for that but I have no idea what it might be. With these houses, there's shops on the first floor.

A lot of these houses are being torn down, to make way for this sort of thing:

Tenants must be careful not to walk into the similar-looking hospital, a couple minutes walk down the street:

There's an apparently unsucessful mall that contains a huge Internet Cafe. Like a lot of Internet cafes, it advertises that you can play World of Warcraft, an online role-playing-game. Its sign is larger than most, though:

No comments: