Kangqiao and the like

There is an imagined ring around Shanghai, a ring which houses education, KFCs, and increased view-ability of the sky, thanks mainly to the rarity of skyscrapers.


To drive roughly 30 minutes out from the inner-ring road area is to encounter an inevitable sight of international schools. They have un-unique, initial-based names such as SCIS, SUIS, SIS and the like. Their fees are also astronomical, but that’s not the topic here.

The point is that many expats live in these areas: teachers and their spouses, as well as other expat-package expats whose employer has some form of factory or working area further outside of the city-centre.


Yet, these further-flung expats do still venture into the modern ether of the central areas.


Mis-understood, nervous people, they are often questioned about their choice of location. Well actually they are not nervous, that just kind of flowed with the sentence.


Yet, they are questioned about their residential exploits.


Many an expat chooses not to venture outside of a ‘triangle of safety’: their central apartment, their office, and a few standard locations of eating and drinking (think Donghu & Yongkang road). Not that there is anything wrong with that: yet there are some who assume that a 30 to 60 minute drive is something only plebeians pursue. They seemingly forget that vehicular transportation was ever a part of life; either of their own, or of any modern society.


Oh you have to drive for 40 minutes to get there? What’s that like?, they chortle, feeling a smug mix of both awe and pity, as they speak to someone who is, terrifyingly, unable to be standing on Yongkang road within 5 minutes of feeling that French-Concession craving.


Well friends – I am now able to tell you that Kangqiao and the like (that’s the title of this post!!!) are actually nice places in which to live.


The streets are walkable, the air feels less murderous, and the rental accommodation is more spacious. There exists the possibility to walk down streets without many cars on them. Trees grow. Civilians seem less motivated to harm you, and there are still always, always, KFCs at every turn, which become so much more than mere capitalist houses of fattery and blimps. They become Community Centres of the old and un-washed, transformed into benevolently social buildings wherein elderly gossip and free towelettes fuel the modern day habituality of these mini-towns with their both geographical and philosophical off-centre style.

God bless Kangqiao and all who dwell within.


Categories: Expat Life


Foreigner in Shanghai


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