Monday, April 21, 2008

Ch-ch-changes

A few months ago in my column about the fast pace of change here, I wrote this:

The improvements likely also have something to do with the new China International Exhibition Center being built up the road. The absolutely massive 660,000 square meter facility is rising out of a formerly empty lot and preparing to permanently squash whatever rural feeling this area has left. A giant hotel has already risen across the street to service the Center and on its other flank, a large mall, the "Europlaza", looks ready to open soon.

The rumor mill is churning up talk of a McDonald's, megaplex movies and more. Some people look forward to its opening with baited breath, while others are horrified.

And so it has all come to pass. McDonald’s has been open for a couple of months now. It is open 24 hours. I’ve taken the kids there a few times. Not too often. I’ve been surprised by how many Chinese are in there. Considering how many expats live around there, I assumed that it was built for them (us) but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

The rest of the mall is starting to open and it has changed the feel of the area, but it’s nothing compared to the Convention Center.

It really has completely altered the feel of the area and it is a catastrophe traffic-wise. Jingshun Lu was already a busy, crowded road. Now they are building a flyway for a highway (also discussed in column) across the middle of it and they have put this giant convention center up with no other real access. Whenever they have an event there, the whole area freezes. It took a friend an hour to get about 200 yards when they had a soft opening a few weeks ago.

Today, an auto show is opening there, to run all week and everyone is terrified. We’ll see what happens. Our school has cancelled all after school activities for at the first two or three days, with a plan to then see what happens.