People's Square, Shanghai May 1, 2013

May 1 is the national labor day holiday in China. As it happens, today  is relatively pollution free (unusual) and a gorgeous, nearly perfect spring day.


I took a stroll through People's Square, the main park in the center of Shanghai, and I thought friends might be interested in getting an impression of what the city is like — an image of modern China, seen from street level, on a casual stroll through the park.


I'll follow this up with a photo essay about the back streets, but that will come later.

 Coming into the square near the corner of Nanjing road (the major pedestrian shopping avenue that goes towards the Bund) one immediately encounters the masses of flowers the Chinese landscapers favor.
 Vendor selling sugarcane



 Western chains are a familiar sight. Starbucks is enormously popular in China.
 Walking into the park.
 An area just inside the park where, in my experience, it's not uncommon to find people comically passed out from the last night's revelry.

 The Marriott Hotel in the background, a popular icon frequently used as a photographic backdrop. In the foreground, a fairground with some amusement rides.

Numerous people stopped me today to ask me to take their picture for them with their camera. Turns out it's a fun way to meet people!

 This ride seemed pretty popular, but produced a lot of screaming.
 Flowers are absolutely every where at this time of year...
 Part of the marriage market. These umbrellas have the names of eligible young women displayed on them.  There is a thriving matchmaking business on weekends and holidays in this park.
 More matchmakers
 and still more matchmakers!
 People do tai chi and stretch in the park, especially in the morning.
 An appealingly shaded bower
 Looking towards the Radisson hotel... Samsung must spend billions of dollars marketing in this country.  They have so many signs up, it looks like an invasion of Korean body snatchers is underway.
 These sweeping plantings of a single type of flower are typical.
 The Le Meridien Hotel, where I usually stay.
 All is not glorious. The garbage still has to go out.
 A jackfruit vendor.
 A balloon vendor.
 Fast food, Chinese style.
 Modern shopping malls abound in Shanghai. This is the very least of them. The best ones put Madison and Fifth avenue to shame, packing dozens of upscale designers and high-end stores into a single block.
...Here's an example of the shopping in one of the more upscale areas.
 The Shanghai Grand Theater.
 A Revolutionary war hero may seem oddly out of place these days, but he's still on duty for photo opportunities
 Literally within a few feet of one other, two distinctly contrasting... and equally real... faces of modern China.
 Many Chinese wear face masks if they have colds, or are fearful of getting them. This woman has discovered a ninja solution to the look, which is usually far more medical in nature.
 The parasol is always a popular item here.
 The Shanghai Museum, the city's preeminent Chinese Ancient Art Museum, in the background on the right.
 An extremely uncooperative photographic subject...
 The park is marked by many broad open spaces.
 Another view of the Marriott Hotel.
 and another view of Le Meridien Hotel
 Grandmothers and their granddaughters abound. Grandparents typically take care of the children in China.
 This country really knows how to do landscaping!
 And they have some pretty mean kite flying skills as well.


 There are many beautifully planted flowerbeds in the park.
 Elderly folk don't let a few crutches slow them down on a day like this.
 If the park benches are crowded, you just bring your own chair.
 Another view of the hotel
 the dappled light in this area is particularly appealing to me.
 Affordable matchmaker. I guess this means some of them aren't.


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created and supervised by Lee van Laer