|↑ by Weng Fen (via)|
When I was 19, I lived in China. My time there sticks with me like the smell of fried onions in a cook's apron.
ORDOS, A MAGICAL LAND in the just north of China, is a dazzling pearl in the world history and culture. That’s what it says — verbatim, in ungrammatical English — on a plaque that greets you as you enter a rotunda in the Ordos Museum. ... Signs welcome visitors to “the famous tourist city,” “the most excellent tourist city” and “the top tourist city in China.” The word Ordos itself is a kind of boast: In Mongolian, it means “many palaces.” The outside world has come to know Ordos by a different title: as a ghost city.I've never been to the city of Ordos. I am haunted by its condition. Recalling the strangeness of finding something desolate in China gives me feelings that I just can't shake. I will never forget the times I spent in places like this. My reminiscence lives somewhere between dysphoria and elation - somehow like the calm surprise of discovering a bruise as you run a finger down your leg. I can't stop thinking about deserted streets where welding sparks shower from the tops of rebar and cement sky-scrapers as they are pieced together at all hours of the night and day. I can't forget assembling around car trunk wares with friends during warm spring nights on the edge of the desert. This article and these photos have captured a feeling and a comprehension that I have never been able to convey.
It is true that China is in the throes of a transformation without analogue or precedent. Experts say that in the next two decades, hundreds of millions of rural Chinese will move into hundreds of newly built cities — the biggest building boom, and the largest migration, in human history.