Sunday, September 13, 2009

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Today Charlotte and I went to the Shanghai Museum while Jodi was in class. Afterwards I was resting and Charlotte was playing on the fountain in People's Square, when a young man approached me to take a survey on the environment of People's Square: how often did I come here, how long did I stay, for what purposes, what kind of feeling did the area give me, what could be improved about it, what things would I like to see more/less. One interesting question asked which buildings on the Square are good-looking and which ones are ugly (among the Shanghai Museum, the Art Museum, City Hall, City Planning Museum, and Grand Theater). In our conversation as I filled out the survey, I mentioned that I would like to see more activities on the square organized by the city and by city residents; I feel like, for a "People's" Square, the square doesn't have a lot of popular culture: no buskers, no hobbyists, no cultural activities. I also let him know that the people selling DVDs, watches and roller skates on Nanjing Rd aren't a big problem; what the city needs to focus on controlling are the art students and tea houses that hide their motives and prey on trusting tourists. Finally, I suggested that the city open one or more tourist information offices with the familiar white on blue "i" that appears so often in touristy European cities, a place where tourists can get information on hotels, tours, city landmarks, and pick up trustworthy maps. I hope my suggestions will help make People's Square a more friendly and constructive place.

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