Shanghai and Beijing: Ancient, Ultramodern, Quirky (Photo Essay)

Today's guest post brings us scenes from the east. My good friend, graphic artist Judy Brandt recently spent some time in Shanghai and Beijing and has put together some photos of China showing the differences in daily life from what you'd find in the west. I'm fascinated...

China bombarded us with opposites: the most historic and classic beauty— set against the most commercial or most cutting-edge modern. But along with that, I was most intrigued by things I saw just walking around, and what was considered totally “normal” in Chinese daily life, but was “most curious” to my western eyes.

Here are some examples:

China dance

Every park, even the zoo, had groups of people in different areas exercising in their own styles. Also there were small groups practicing their music, cracking whips as exercise, dancing, singing, stretching and playing LOTS of card games.

China daily music

China tai chi

Tai Chi

China street singer

Some commonly seen menswear on the street:  pajamas and open midriff.

chinese menswear

Little children often don’t have diapers on. There is this style of having pants cut out in the center so they can just defecate when they need to. I also saw someone holding their child over a public garbage pail so he could urinate.

Somebody decided to put their laundry out in front of an office building in the middle of town.

I have no idea what this woman was burning in front of her home (she wasn’t cooking).

What is the purpose of the wood in front of the car wheels?

At a jazz band performance in a historic Shanghai hotel bar, a woman jumped in next to the trumpet player so her friend could take a snapshot of her. At a tourism museum, many people jumped into the exhibit dioramas for photo-ops.

This couple is having their wedding photos taken in front of the Armani store.

There are advertisements on the handles in the subway. Also there are televisions showing advertisements throughout.

There is a large TV with advertisements in front of this ancient shrine. Also there are even bigger televisions in Tianamen Square.

I have many more beautiful pictures of China: the historic sights, beautiful new cutting edge architecture, fantastic food and gorgeous artifacts. Beijing and Shanghai are world-class cities—with contradictions and eccentricities that will keep it accessible to the “People.”

Bio: Judy Brandt is a graphic and product designer, fine art photographer and lover of all things visual. Traveling gives her great inspiration to create and she hopes to see a lot more of Asia and Australia, since she has moved to Melbourne from her native New York City. Her latest project is EarRapps.



oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
9 years ago

Beijing and Shanghai are two major cities in China. Shanghai is well known for its urbanization and modernity; while Beijing is more suitable for those who are seeking for Chinese traditional cultures. The Great Wall, FOrbidden CIty, Temple of Heaven and Summer Palace are some of the must visit attractions in Beijing. If you wish you, you can join the senior citizens practicing Taichi or ribbon dance in the park too. It will make your trip wonderful.

Interesting snap shots of Chinese daily life. I love how exercise is a priority for many Chinese people.

Inspiring Travellers(@andreajohn)
9 years ago

I love that too – they are really into health and wellbeing…

9 years ago

Asians love the park and exercise don’t they? It reminds me of my time at the Camoes Gardens in Macau…everyone was relaxed and doing exercises and playing music. Maybe that’s why they’re so healthy?

9 years ago

LOL! I learned some new things about the Chinese today. 🙂

I can’t believe the kids don’t wear diapers!!

9 years ago

One mystery solved:
I was just told that the wood in front of the tires is to keep doggy urine off them.

Thank you for working with Straigh To The Point.
Send this to a friend