Small and alone


This not-yet-opened overpass arcs between brand new apartment complexes on its way to eventually run past three big shopping malls and a subway transfer station. But one last patch of protested, illegally bulldozed píngfáng 平房 currently stands in the way.

“Give us our home back!”

“Illegal forced demolition; Give back our home” 非法强拆 还我家园
This rubble marks the last undeveloped plot in that particular city block. The protest banner faces the canal that used to hold Qingdao’s biggest traditional market, which has now been cleared off and is nearly finished its transformation into a riverwalk.

When we first moved to this area four years ago, we saw a couple kilometers’ worth of traditional buildings and neighbourhoods straddling and a massive, unregulated openair market. But from a birds’ eye view you’d see it as an island of Chinese blue collar chaos in a sea of rapid urban consumer-class development — on all sides glitzy malls, expensive apartment complexes, and subway station construction rumbled on incessantly. As fun as it was to live close-to-but-not-in that old school area, we guessed that it’d mostly be gone in five years’ time.

Black on white is the usual protest banner colour scheme (white on black ribbons are for funerals, red on white banners are for government propaganda, and advertising usually uses white or yellow on red).

Waste not, want not…

If there’s one thing Chinese are loathe to waste, it’s land. This is not an uncommon sight in Qingdao:
Construction gardens 1
City blocks where building hasn’t started yet are often not left fallow.
Construction gardens 2
Of course, it wasn’t too long ago that these city blocks were villages.
Construction gardens 3
I took these with an iPhone 4 from the 17th floor of a friend’s apartment building.

Construction forest, Qingdao, China

Licun cityscape, Qingdao, China
A nearly-completely forest of apartment buildings as seen through the grimy windows of our gym, which is going out of business. Qingdao’s cityscape, especially in the north (Licun) and east (Laoshan), is dominated by massive construction projects.

Pagoda and construction, Licun Park, Qingdao, China

Licun Gongyuan & construction
Licun Gongyuan, before the spring, amid Qingdao’s relentless urban development.
More images from this great local park here:

How many construction cranes can you count in 30 seconds?

One thing that still amazes me about China is how things are sometimes done on a massive scale, bigger than anything I’ve even heard of anywhere else.

Took this video from a Qingdao taxi as we passed a construction site today. How many construction cranes can you count? I stopped counting after 30.

It’s embedded from YouTube, so you’ll need a VPN if you’re in China. Screenshot below, of only one portion of the entire building site: