For the first time since we began coming to China, our accommodations are on-campus.  They’re not residence rooms, exactly. We’re living in a better-than-dorm on-campus hotel that seems to target visiting scholars and conference attendees. The East China Normal University (ECNU) campus is pleasant, green and quiet. There are lots of trees and a couple of pretty little canals. Near the canals, there are little stone tables and stools from which one can observe the fish and the birds (and sometimes humans) who feed on the fish.

Just off-campus, though, the calm evaporates. Putuo (our neighbourhood) is a hustle and bustle of traffic, restaurants, food stalls, street vendors, and shopping. Just under a year ago, the local shopping went super upscale with the opening of the 480,000 square metre Global Harbor mall — a six story mall and entertainment complex whose Blade Runner-esque LED animated exterior was designed to look like a ship with two massive masts, and whose interior decor ranges from faux classical to ersatz rococo. If you enjoy looking at dreamy paintings of rich, old-tymey white ladies in tiaras to the sounds of elevator salsa music whilst surrounded by empty Dior, Dolce and Gabbana and Cartier stores and countless upscale coffee shops, then Global Harbor is for you.

Here are a couple of quick interior glimpses:



view from below of ornate sky-lit four story atrium with two tall palm trees in the foreground


a sculpture of two reclining classical figures, back to back


Swanky, huh? Nice as Global Harbor is, though, it is awfully…  I mean, it’s just so awfully, um… well, really just awfully…

a store-front. The sign says "Awfully Chocolate."


Not interested in Italian shoes or French couture? Prefer a proper British store? Not to worry.

a Tesco sign with some merchandise in front of it


Or, perhaps, seeing as it’s Canada Day today, you’d prefer to shop for Canuck products? Here’s one!

image from the back cover of a student notebook. On the left is a picture of an antique car with the caption "antique car." On the right, in large letters, it says "CANADA". Beneath it in smaller printing is a little motto about Canada (reproduced below on blog post).


That photo shows the back cover of a student notebook. Among the other notebooks in the same line is one that says “Italy” and has a picture of the leaning tower of Pisa, captioned with the words “Statue of Liberty.” But enough about Italy! Today is Canada Day. Although I am far away from my native land, as a proud Canadian, let me just say:



Whatever you can do, or dream you can,begin it.

Whereever you want to go,

I hope I will accompany you.

(P.S. London. Antique car.)