The Journal of Asian Studies, where I am an advising editor, published a photo I took on its cover of its most recent issue.
It’s an image an image that I took in May, 2008 from a bridge overlooking the Sai River, which sits between Thailand and Myanmar. On the right are bustling tourist and trinket shops in the Thai city of Mae Sai. On the left are hollowed out buildings of the Myanmar city of Tachilek. You can cross the border from Thailand into Myanmar by foot by paying US$10 or 500 Thai Baht and leaving your passport with Myanmar officials until you re-enter Thailand.
Well, actually, this year in Asia, I also went to Turkey. Asia-esque but not quite Asia. A lot of peoople have been asking me about my trip. Here’s a quick summary. Turn on the info for titles and captions.
In the last days of the Olympics, neighbors in Sanyuanli and residents of the Clifford Estates left their televisions on so that the final matches and last medal ceremonies set the backdrops of their daily lives.
The neighborhoods are similar in many ways. They both sit on the edges of the megacity of Guangzhou. The people who live in Sanyuanli and the Clifford Estates seem to enjoy their ways of life, and exhibit pride in the place where they live. They point browsing visitors to their most cherished monuments — for Sanyuanli, a monument to their victory over the British in an 1841 battle of the Opium War, and for Clifford Estate, the multimillion dollar condominiums that line a beautiful lakeside walk. Which, of course, hints at the two neighborhood’s obvious differences.
Sanyuanli is an upward-growing urban slum, where small businesses line small alleyways and families crowd the upper levels of precarious housing. It’s called a “shake hands village,” where the buildings are so close together that neighbors can shake hands just by reaching out their windows. Clifford Estate is a sprawling and modern development, a gated community for retirees from Hong Kong and upwardly mobile families in China. It’s home to Clifford markets and Clifford restaurants and its own internal shuttle service system.
Here are these neighborhoods in pictures.
Thanks to my little bridge to China, Jacky Peng, and my road tripping companion, Anka Lee, for giving me entree into these neighborhoods.