Signposts Ningbo

Trip Start Sep 30, 2005
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Trip End Jun 04, 2006


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Sunday, April 16, 2006

Ningbo sounds like a cool name for a place. A bit funky, maybe? Actually, it's not particularly a sleight on Ningbo to admit that I was only there for a couple of hours, nor to accept that it's highly unlikely I'll be back. For me, it was just a place on the way to somewhere else. From the little I saw of it, Ningbo is fully compliant with the monochrome template for a modern Chinese industrial city, the sole exception being the small trees lining the main roads. As soon as I stepped off yet another night bus, I recognised the smell of hot, polluted air confirmed by a yellowing sky. The taxi driver was cheerful at 7.30am, but I thought he was winding me up when he indicated a dusty yard and a set of shabby buildings that was the ferry terminal. Baffling, there were no boats either, but there were a couple of ramshackle buses to take passengers to the new ferry dock at Zhenhai. Amazingly the bus started in a cloud of black smoke.

Like so many cities in China, Ningbo is obviously trying to reinvent itself by building new, modern commercial and residential focal points. As the bus headed out of town there was a string of billboards advertising this new future in both Chinese and inimitable Chinglish. Ningbo appears to have it's own special style in this regard and it was cool with me just to look for the next entertaining set of signs and ignore the possibility that the bus might disintegrate. There were things like:

"Overcoming difficulties for a wonderful future."
"Dreaming a beautiful life in new city."
"Making a World First-Class port."
"Live here in Hopetown"
"Join our determined beliefs to make economic success."

The jewel in the crown though, was the sign across the road welcoming us to Ningbo Economic Development Zone. Beyond this sign was an apparently empty Communist Party Office, a small village, a rusty old cement works, a new bridge and a funfair theme park beyond. There wasn't much evidence that I could see of Economic Development in the Economic Development Zone. Ningbo is obviously signposting an ambitious future for itself. It certainly left me with a smile on my face as I boarded the boat for PutuoShan.
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