Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Another Break in the Wall

Sorry for the long silence, but the Chinese censors have been more effective than usual the past two weeks. I'm back in the States now, so will post this old message:

On Wednesday, while running down addresses for Explorer Publishing’s Complete Residents Guide to Shanghai (due out in September), I visited the only remnant of Shanghai’s old city wall. It’s part of the western gate, built in 1553, a tower where archers could take aim at the sort of Japanese invaders who didn’t come armed with credit cards.

The rest of the wall was demolished in 1912, according to a Shanghai government website, because it had become “an obstacle in the city’s economic development and communication.”

The address is 269 Dajing Road and the entry fee is 5 yuan. On the second floor of the Dajing Pavilion, a stone bears an inscription that translates as “His majesty’s good faith lasts eternally,” referring to the Ming emperor, I suppose. The ground floor houses a small historical exhibit, including a scale model of the old city.

Outside the wall, in the small park that adjoins the splendidly developed and exceedingly communicative Renmin Road, an old man hung his cap and cane on a fencepost, then commenced his silent practice of tai chi.