So I am here in China for the first time in six months or so; at least since joining the Latitude design team.
I am here during Expo, and I will be sure to take the chance to go and take a look at it in the next fortnight, hopefully finding a way to avoid some of the worst queues. But before I even step foot in the Expo, I can see the collateral effects that it is having on the city.
Taikang Road (where I am sitting right now) was one of my favourite design spots in the city, always offering an easily-accessible good vibe, some interesting design, and all washed down with a good cappuccino.
Now? Well there are still the design shops, but it’s been heavily cleaned up, and some of the more interesting businesses have made way for little more than tourist nick-nack outlets. Not unpleasant, exactly, but it’s certainly lost some of the pioneering atmosphere that it once had.
I suppose every ex-pat had the same stories; “I remember when this place was authentic.”. At least it has not been demolished to make way for a shopping centre – though the street opposite has managed to sprout one in the last six months.
What’s the next project for China after the Olympics and Expo? I asked the taxi driver this afternoon if China could just relax for a bit, and he laughed a knowing laugh of “no, our next project is the world.”