21 April 2010


"Hey Ma! I went to Chinatown today!"
"Huh? I thought you said you're going to China, not Chinatown?"
"I did! And I went to Chinatown."
"In China?"
"Yep! Chinatown in China."

I spent Chinese New Year (February 18) in Shanghai. It's my first trip back to China in over a decade. I was excited to see China's most metropolitan and international city. My favourite part was the Ancient Chinese City. There are many translated names for this section of the city. Ancient City. Old Chinese Settlement. Old Chinese City. Shanghai Old City. Shanghai Ancient Town. You get the general idea.

And the general theme. It's the old China Town! After all, Shanghai has historically been carved into neighborhoods based on the expatriate or diplomatic presence- the French Concession, the International Settlement (comprised of the former American and British Concessions), and the Jewish ghetto. Shanghai's architecture was anything but Chinese.

Except in the old part of the city. The first thought that hit me once I found the area was "Ahh! Finally, Chinatown." It even had an arch over the street leading into the heart of the neighbourhood. The irony struck me. I had to search for a Chinatown in a Chinese city!

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