Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Shenyang, Another city in the Northeast

Brandon from San Diego commented on my last post and asked some questions about Shenyang. So I thought I would post a little info about that city. Here is a picture of a part of the Shenyang palace complex. Shenyang is one of two cities that have an Imperial palace, the other of course is Beijing. Much of the north's economies are based in manufacturing and Shenyang is no different. My girlfriends comment about the city was there are a lot of factories. This is true. I spent about 5 or 6 days there and my initial impression was that it was a very grey city. Now what I mean by that is that the buildings are like many of the building here in Harbin. Everything is built from brick and then covered with cement, this is common. Many buildings are not painted or it has been a long time since they were painted so there is a general grey feeling to the city. It was not long after I had come to Harbin and it is an overnight train ride so I took off for a while. I had a friend there, a nice gal who invited me to come.

Most of the palace was being renovated so I was not able to see too much of it, but some workers let me in the gate to take a few shots. This shot is taken from the web. I remember taking walks down one of the market streets in the evening, walking around a park that had a lake, a disgusting canal littered with rubbish and green slim. I also remember her sisters 24th floor apartment, which was as nice as many western apartments. This is pretty common in China, 25 year old buildings that are not too nice at least on the outside and in contrast some very nice modern hi-rise apartments that are very nice. One of the highlights of the trip was a visit to the famous market area. Shenyang has the largest wholesale market in China and you could spend several days and not see it all. You can really get some great prices there, for example, I had been looking for a pack, I had priced many of them in Beijing at about 130rmb or about 15-20 dollars. In Shenyang the same packs were 40 and I may not have gotten the best price possible as my bargaining skills are not as good as they are now. Rollerblades in the stores were about 3- 5 hundred rmb, and at the market, 90. So if you want to do a little shopping it's a great place to do it.

Brandon was concerned with the air pollution. Well, welcome to China. It's interesting because it is all relative to your experience, having lived in Los Angeles in the early 70's, and 79- 91, I saw some pretty bad pollution in the early days. It's better now, as it is better in the North of China. My girlfriends son was just here from Yi Chang in Hubei and he thought the air was very fresh here in Harbin. He may have never really known what fresh air is like. When you have heavy industry and millions of people, and cars and buses, that is what you get, bad air. Probably not any worse than it was in LA during the early 70's but that might mean a brown hanging haze. If you want cleaner air take a job in a more rural area. You may be the only foreigner in that place though, so you trade some of the amenities. Hey if you are concerned about it sign a six month contract and then you can move to greener pastures, this pretty much goes for any place in China, you just never know until you get here how you will feel about the city you have chosen. Do your due diligence and research as much as you can on the net, and always try to talk with current teachers that are at the institution you are considering.

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