For just 100 rmb per day, foreign visitors can experience the life of an average Shanghainese citizen during the 2010 Expo.
As part of their daily immersion program, visitors can expect to be woken up at 5 am by the construction next door, pack into a subway car so full they get to count the neck hairs on the man in front of them, and then spend a few hours in the evening enjoying the exotic scents of a squatter as they poop out all of their dinner. At this point, they’ll discover the fun cultural factoid that they needed to bring in their own toilet paper.
Or that’s how we think the Jing’an Tourism Administration’s proposal to host foreign visitors with local families might pan out. The Shanghai Daily described the plan a little differently:
Foreign visitors can stay with a Shanghainese family. They can go grocery shopping with the family members, eat local food, study the Shanghainese dialect and make traditional crafts.
Ten families from Jing’an’s five neighborhoods are being selected to be part of the program. The selection criteria is vague and a little bizarre – the families are chosen for having “healthy lifestyles,” preference is given to those in traditional longtang-style homes (the ones that haven’t been destroyed yet) and according to the paper, “all the families are either calligraphy-lovers or antique collectors.”
The families are also receiving training in etiquette, foreign culture, and Shanghainese customs, so we expect that by the time they receive any actual foreign guests, they’ll be a lot more “traditionally Shanghainese” than any Shanghainese people we know.
Photo by M Mienik.