Day 107: Clean Sweep

Street sweeper takes a break from his broom to fix the seat on his cart.

Street sweeper takes a break from his broom to fix the seat on his bicycle cart.

I had not intended on a ‘theme’ for this week’s pictures, but on my way home, today, I walked past this man fixing his bicycle seat and took this shot which seemed to fit nicely with this week’s unintended theme of manual labor; China has an untold number of street sweepers, Using brooms made of thin branches, they are everywhere, sweeping and picking up so that the streets are spotless. As someone who grew up in NYC during the 70’s and 80’s, I am familiar with dirty streets and I was pleasantly surprised when I got to Shanghai and saw how clean the streets are kept. At first, I assumed that it was a matter of people not littering, but that’s not the case, I have watched people throw all types of trash out taxi windows and drop litter 5 feet from a trash receptacle, but the army of sweepers insures that the trash doesn’t last long. If the Chinese economy ever slows to the point that they do away with the hordes of public employees, watch for the trash to pile up quickly.

Day 106: Sprinkler Men

Watering the shrubbery along Century Boulevard.

Watering the shrubbery along Century Boulevard.

The public landscaping in Shanghai is quite extensive and very well done; luxury apartment compounds, high rise office towers, parks and Pudong’s wide boulevards are extensively planted and very well taken care of. Everyday you will see an army of workers planting, trimming, sweeping and watering. For such a modern city it is surprising, at first, to this westerner, that there is not more utilization of technology–automatic sprinklers. But China is still in the early stages of development, relatively speaking, as a modern economy and society, and there are 1.6 billion or so people to employ, so it is quite understandable that there is a reliance on manual labor. And that small Honda engine is doing wonders for the AQI.

Day Ninety: Coal Floats

The coal parade.

The coal parade.

Every Sunday there is a steady stream of empty barges making their way up the Huangpu River; every Monday they come racing back downstream burdened with coal bound for the power plants and factories  in the provinces encircling Shanghai.

The government has said that air pollution is a serious situation and that action will be taken, but the number of coal barges are not decreasing, the air remains ash gray and the AQI rarely strays out of the unhealthy zone.





Sunday afternoon, empty coal barges head upstream. They will be loaded with coal and, on Monday, float downstream by the hundreds.

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Day Seventy-seven: Fishing

Fisherman, using a spear, stalks his prey.

Fisherman using a spear hunts his prey.

Shanghai’s warm spell is in its fourth day and temperatures climbed into the mid-70’s bringing out flowers and fishermen. An afternoon walk down some previously untraveled streets brought me to Tangqiao Park, a 40,000 square meter green space with a 13,000 square meter lake. The lake is connected to Zhangjiabang Creek, a tributary of the Huangpu River and is popular with local fisherman. The most common form of fishing is with a 18′ long pole and a bobber, but I saw half a dozen people stringing nets across the creek. The man in the picture was the only person I saw using a spear to fish; in 20 minutes of observation he tossed his spear a few times without piercing anything. After shooting a few pictures I hurried home, got my fly rod and gear and rode my bike back to the park. I worked my way around the lake with a dry fly before switching to a bead head nymph and fishing the creek. I didn’t land any fish, but casting a fly in Shanghai on a warm, sunny (polluted–AQI 194) day was reward enough.

Day Seventy-One: Homebound

Shanghai on a rainy day

Shanghai on a rainy day

After a clear, sunny day, yesterday, with an AQI hovering just under 200, today broke overcast and wet, scrubbing the air to an acceptable AQI of 70. Despite the fresh air, the cool, wet weather kept me from wanting to wander the streets of Shanghai shooting pictures. This shot, was taken from an open window in our living room. The compass rose in the foreground is where the women gather for early morning Tai Chi; straight to the right of it is the clubhouse, gym and wave pool. In the midground, the low, blue-roofed structures are the on site dormitories for the construction workers building the luxury apartment towers visible in the upper left corner of the frame. Directly across the river is an area known as the Cool Docks, a reclaimed warehouse district updated with restaurants and boutiques. The Bund, to the right, is shrouded in clouds (not smog) today.

Day Seventy: Fresh Fruit

Fresh Oranges

Fresh Oranges

Residents from the adjacent ‘New Village” housing complex buy oranges off the back of a truck on Pucheng Lu, in the Pudong New Area of Shanghai. Farmers from surrounding areas will drive to the city with their crops and sell off the truck until everything is gone, and then return home. This is the first crop of oranges that I’ve seen this year. The idea of buying local is tempered by the fact that pesticides are poorly regulated and often used generously and the soil that many of the crops are grown in has a fairly high chance of being contaminated with anything from heavy metals to improperly disposed of chemicals. We have taken to ordering much of our produce from a western, organic grocer with certified growers.