Friday, March 30, 2012

Spring in Shanghai

The weather this time of year is very temperamental.I should have taken photos yesterday when Mother Nature choose to keep the clouds and rain at bay.Unfortunately today, low fog combined with short downpours and clammy drizzle meant that a lot of the magnolia flowers had fallen or were looking the worst for wear.As you may know the magnolia is the city flower of Shanghai.The Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall in Peoples Square boasts of having a roof designed in the manner of a magnolia flower.If you use your imagination when you gaze up and knew this useless piece of information then it may be possible to discern the similarities.Possibly.

The two shots above are from the grounds of the Shanghai Art Museum in Peoples Square.You can see how grey and murky the sky is.In the past week flights from Pudong have been delayed or diverted due to this low cloud and poor visibility.Not only is the temperature variable each day but throughout the day as well.One needs to come armed with a coat and an umbrella due to the nights still being chill in contrast to the pleasant afternoons which have shot into the mid 20s.

The last two photos are from Peoples Square.You can make out the Radison UFO like dome on the top left.The other photo is near the entrance to the Metro for Line 2.There were two lines of magnolia trees looking very nice yesterday in the mid afternoon sun.Today however, the rain had caused them to look very fornlorn.Lots of petals lying on the ground and those remaining on the tree already looking stained and turning brown.

Friday, March 23, 2012

I came home to a city half erased

'I came home to a city half erased' a line from R.E.M's song 'Oh My Heart' pretty much sums up my thoughts after a recent all too brief visit back home to Christchurch,New Zealand.I missed the earthquakes of 4 September 2010 and the killer quake of 22 February 2011 living in Shanghai.Blissfully unaware of the drama and tragedy that occurred at the time. Late last month I ventured back to catch up with friends and family.To see for myself what Mother Nature had thrown up and left behind.

This first shot shows the remains of the old Provincial Government Buildings.Like many old stone buildings in Christchurch particularly churches it didn't fare well.I noticed many wooden pallets and numbered stone blocks littered the site as it was being laboriously dismantled.Hopefully the outside facade can be retained in some future reconstruction.Even a year on the inner CBD is fenced off and not open to public access.Across the street the Amuri Court buildings and car park was coming down as an excavator and demolition crew worked on reducing the sizable pile of rubble.

Much of the old CBD is red-zoned i.e not open for public access while large buildings such as the Clarendon and BNZ building still have to be demolished.The old Oxford Terrace strip by the river has been cordoned off as has Victoria Square.Access to the Anglican Cathedral in the Square which also faces demolition after extensive damage is limited to special public walk days.I couldnt get close enough for a photo despite various attempts.
In the Cashel Street Mall a number of container shops have been constructed to bring the appearance of a city centre.Most business now seems to have moved towards Addington and Riccarton.The photo above shows one of the container units that houses a coffee shop.In the background you can see the BNZ building yet to be demolished.

A shot looking down Colombo Street.The BNZ building features again on the right hand side.The dust clouds arise from the demolition on the corner of Colombo Street.Further along Colombo Street was accessible to traffic.I noticed some floral tributes marking the anniversary earlier in the month of the 22 February quake.The flowers had been left at the spot where some fatalities occurred as a bus was hit by falling masonry.

Two shots of the Christchurch Catholic Cathedral.Like its Anglican sister this building was extensively damaged and is unlikely to be repaired due to the cost of rebuilding it and returning it to it former glory.You can see the containers stacked two high in the shot above.There are further containers on the other side of the building buttressing and supporting what remains.The two large domes on each side of the cathedral have been removed for fear of further damage and weakening the buildings structure.

At this point I should explain the hiatus in my blogging.Due to housing and internet problems which fingers crossed are resolved at least for a while and a general lack of time for personal and work reasons I've a bit too busy to blog.Im still too busy to blog but hopefully will find time to do so on a more regular basis.I've got more photos of ChCh to come...