Leaving Nantong and the opposite of innocence

The shock of the new (…) was replaced by the shock of the opposite of innocence. Simply by changing location suddenly from curiosity I became a tourist; a naive prawn for those working hard to earn on foolish non alert “others”. The first hit happened at Pudong airport where the organised by our hosts buses dropped everyone off. Many would travel away but I had to go in the city. A young woman with a tag “Nancy-airport” saw on me a moment of hesitation and approached me offering a taxi for only 550 Yuan; she would call, taxi would come, fixed price, receipt, no tip…as I was nearly dreaming I went along for a while until I could calculate in my mind what was this amount. Then by mentioning numbers I somehow confused her and that gave me the chance to say “no that’s too much” and turned away. Only then I realised that this is the scam that is mentioned everywhere in the guides and is told by every one that has travelled to China. OK, Westerners, no need to feel superior. In a more or less obvious way, foreigners become prey in your countries too; only when we are at home we can not know that; the “others” do.

Anyway, I took an official taxi that cost me 170 Yuan. On the way, I relived a sequence of dreadful feelings that I had gone through at a young age. Leaving a protected environment is a liberation; I always prefer to be independent and do my own plan, but then my energy is also spent in building a barrack around me. So, innocence finished around and inside; I had to put the heavy face on (and that hurts!).

My hotel in Shanghai is close to People’s square; a very good one. I actually can see the Shanghai Museum from my window on the 12th floor. At the reception I was told that it is 15 minutes walk to the museum but it is much less. Gush, Shanghai is a huge city! Seventeen million people and it shows! I walked down there to find my own familiarity, inside a museum, but without luck. Outside the big museum there was a queue, but anyway I was looking for the contemporary art museum called MOCA; no luck there neither as it is showing Finnish design and photography which I do not need to see now. To top that, three youngsters, including one girl, asked me to take a picture of them in front of the garden flowers, with their camera. Then they started making questions and finally asked if I wanted to join them at the opening of the tea ceremony festival where they were going. How many times I have heard this story already? I said I was busy and left, but my mood was shattered. I walked around the square which is in fact an area packed with anything you can imagine; and trees. It did not take long to decide that I had nothing to find there and turned back to walk opposite direction to the Yuyuan market, a bazaar really Chinese; with red decorations for the new year, decorations for Christmas (even a full Xmas tree!), the plastic toys that go around also in Europe, plenty of fabrics, ribbons, faux jewellery and of course food; all in big quantities in a very tight space. I walked further and further in this labyrinth. It was impossible to get the big picture of the area so I focused on details; just to find my way back to my shelter. Word of the day, without looking at the book: “barricades”

These pictures are details of works of the 7th “From Lausanne to Beijing” Fiber Art Biennale, Nantong.

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