Day 23 – Shanghai / China Day 5: No spitting in evidence? The business district(s); People’s Square; East Nanjing Road and waiting area/‘trackside’ at Shanghai Railway and Bus stations

This was a day that taught me a lot about spitting in Shanghai / China and made me reflect on processes of change and trajectories of societal ‘development’ a little further than to date.

If you were a visitor to Shanghai and followed my day 5 trail you could have easily (unlike days 1, 2 or 4) gone away being blissfully unaware that you had stepped into one of the world’s great spitting nations. The itinerary for the day was planned but the pattern of observations/findings was unexpected and there was nothing, intuitively, about the locations that would have raised suspicion that anything new was going to be evident.

Isabelle and I started with the inside – the indoor waiting and outdoor track areas of Shanghai Railway Station – and the indoor waiting area of the long distance Bus Terminal. Reports from bloggers on the web suggested these would be areas littered with spit and spitters yet both areas resembled something closer to airport terminals than rail/bus station waiting areas. We looked/observed and waited. No spitting took place whilst we were there and no spitting detritus was visibly present Isabelle and I reflected that the cleanliness of the spaces perhaps had a constraining effect on spitting. Other rail and bus stations she told me would not be as clean as Shanghai’s main stations.

In the tunnel between Shanghai Railway Station and the bus station we observed only the second no spitting sign from two days observations in multiple parts of the city.

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We then jumped on the subway and headed to one of the most prominent business districts – Lujiazui. As you can see from the (360 degree photograph) this has amazing skyscraper skylines and is a new as can be. It is also very clean.

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Whilst observing from the bridge right in its centre, not only did we not see or hear any spitting at all we also noticed that smoking was almost non-existent too. Leaving the heavily trafficked bridge we observed a busy bus stop area on the main street. Plenty of by passer traffic combined with a fairly busy bus stop area produced once again no spitting at all. We may have expected less spitting but we were seeing a total absence.

Our next stop was People’s Square which is in fact a medium/modest size park in the centre of the city that is well kept and populated by both locals and tourists. Unlike my visit to the ‘normal’ park on Day 1 this showpiece park produced no spitters even though in one area there were groups of men gambling together, smoking and huddled over tables and engrossed in the goings on. We waited and observed and … nothing.

Our last stop of the day was the very tourist focussed, pedestrianised East Nanjing Road (see image). Again, a well maintained area – full of tourists. We walked up and down, sat observed and listened but no spitting was seen or heard.

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Reflections on spitting in China will follow in the next post

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