I’m not sure why, but about 8 months ago Dalian partially gutted an entire street of homes and businesses and then left them staring hollow eyed and empty at the busy street. Actually Dalian has done this to quite a few ‘older’ areas, and by older I mean the buildings may be pushing 40 years. Things don’t seem to be built to last, but before they ‘fall’ from grace they are ‘torn’ from grace. I’ve heard it’s a part of the work plan to employ people as it does take a lot of man power to build structures and then demolish them, especially when your using nothing more sophisticated than a sledge hammer. This vacancy of this area got under my skin. It was such an interesting community with brick lined apartments, stinky markets and the normal high velocity of Chinese conversation. Now, undoubtedly, it will be a strip mall or mega apartment complex within the year.
I’ve been meaning to wonder through it for a long time now but didn’t get around to it until this Sunday when the sunshine and lack of winter wind encouraged me to venture outside. What I saw/touched/photographed/smelled (always have to include the sense of smell when referring to China!) confirmed my thinking; it is a lonely, abandoned, dead and soon to be, but not quite yet, forgotten place. When I entered from the street I waded through watery roads and large falling pieces of cement. The worker yelled up to his friend to stop destroying the 5th story balcony and then grunted at me to hurry on by in the absence of falling houses. Once I was 30 feet away it became eerily quite, with the sound of traffic and destruction blanketed and muffled. It gave me the same feeling I get in graveyards, when quiet becomes loud enough to make a make a rhythmic pounding in my ears. From there I walked (slowly as I was wearing flip flops that would not have put up much of a fight for rusty nails and broken glass) and took pictures of hills of rubble with half standing buildings and their toothless grins, random shoes and mattresses, piles of doors still on their hinges, pools of broken blue glass and small personal items such as toothbrushes and fitted top hats. It really was beautiful, but in the forlorn graveyard type way. It becomes impossible not to wonder what those people’s lives were like and more so, where they are now.