It is only a few minutes walk from my beloved and quiet Anting Street, but it’s always a shock for me to go to Xu Jia Hui. This area is a major concentration of new buildings in South Western Shanghai. Within a few hundred meters, one can find dozens of shopping centers, including the biggest tech malls (mall specialized in computers and technology products) of the city. It includes one of the major metro station of the (Xu Jia Hui), one of the largest road in Shanghai (twice four lane Zhao Jia Bang Lu, larger than many European motorways), as well as hundreds of buses crossing the district in all directions at all time of the day and night. The area is next to the Shanghai stadium(the largest stadium of the city) and the beginning of the South-Western Shanghai, an area in transformation from industrial to residential.
Hundred of thousands of people live in or around Xu Jia Hui making it a major hub for transportation, living, working and shopping. It is also hosting major construction projects and the population is still increasing at a high speed. This district was always densely populated ,mixing industrial and living areas. It used to be covered by little houses with red roof that are still very common in Sanghai. It’s now covered with twenty to thirty floors buildings and new ones are being built all the time. Between two skyscrapers, one can discover the Saint Ignacius cathedral and the old covent, part of the Xu Jia Hui Jesuits area. The old covent is now a restaurant weirdly called Shanghai Old Station.
An unforgettable experience one can have every day is to try and get through the area at peak hours. My friends who working in the area compare it to the experience of going to a major concert… every morning. At that time of the day, the whole district is covered with people and it’s nearly impossible to find an empty space. As Xu Jia Hui is also a major shopping district, it gets even more flooded with people on bank holidays. It’s difficult to describe this feeling… it’s a bit like being in a large demonstration, where the only thing you can is do is to go with the flow. With all kind people mixing, loudspeakers from sales booth, buses and taxis constantly honing, the whole area feels like straight out of Blade Runner. Towers, lot’s of people, shopping centers everywhere surrounded with car… this is the way Shanghai is becoming a world city.