Guangzhou to Shanghai

October 2012, my second trip to China. I had to visit the Canton Fair in Guangzhou, and through Gangkou, Changzhou, Shantou and Wenzhou to get to Shanghai – the place of my last business meeting.

When I arrived to China, the editorials of the newspapers were about bird flu. A girl named Yao infected with the flu is handed a certificate for courage, after which she is discharged from the hospital.


When I flew away a week later, the main topic was an earthquake in the south-west of the country. The baby in the photo was born in a tent immediately after the cataclysm. TV reports on the effects of the earthquake are made in the style of “now we will become even stronger.”

But I’m getting ahead of myself.


Guangzhou is the 5th largest city in China, and the first thing you pay attention to when you arrive there for the first time is the highest level of urban infrastructure development. This fully applies to the metro – modern, convenient and safe.

Another distinctive detail not only of Guangzhou, but of the whole of China is the cult of pretty models in the media.

One of the girls from the cover met me at the exhibition.

In all other respects, Guangzhou is a typical metropolis in which millions of people move through life at an accelerated pace, sometimes snacking on the go.

And only the children are not in a hurry to go to school.

In the evening, urban activity moves to the shopping streets. This skins merchant merchant on the first picture was trying to push a 600 yuan skin of unknown origin on me. But he did not succeed.


At Gangkou, a three-hour drive from Guangzhou, I had a meeting at the engineering board factory.

Most of the work here is done manually. And since the factory has many orders, it needs a lot of hands.


I saw a similar picture in a similar factory in Shantou. The only difference is the color of the t-shirts – they were yellow.


From Guangdong province I moved to one of the cities of Jiangsu province, namely to Changzhou – the “Capital of laminate flooring”. But before heading to the laminate flooring factories, which, as I was told, there are more than two hundred, I swept through the city.

In Changzhou, I was struck by the abundance of motorcycles, the complete freedom of their movement and the absolute absence of restrictions on the property transported on these  2- and 3- wheeled babies.

In factories, everything is as usual – everybody rush around and a lot of manual labor.

After a busy meeting day, I was invited to a restaurant and made sure that “Chairman Mao” in China is still revered.

And since we were talking about restaurants, a few words about Chinese cuisine. The most delicious food in China is not in restaurants, but in the director’s kitchens of large Chinese factories. As delicious as their personal chefs cook, nowhere else do they cook. I have been convinced of this more than once.


The next stop on my way – Wenzhou (Zhejiang province), which for some reason reminded me of Russian Voronezh. Except there’s only a few shoe factories in Voronezh, but in Wenzhou they can’t be counted. I did not have much time and I visited only two that produced protective work shoes. Although in reality it turned out to be more likely medium-sized workshops than factories.

What else pays attention in China is the attitude towards children. At the time the law “one family – one child” was still in force, perhaps for this reason Chinese parents pay increased attention to their children, which is expressed in high tolerance for their pranks and universal adoration.


Shanghai does not need to be presented to anyone – it is one of the largest cities in the world, a megalopolis. Unfortunately, in Shanghai I had only one free evening, and the next morning, after an early meeting, an airplane to Russia was waiting for me. So my story about Shanghai will be brief and limited to a few street photographs. It was late, the streets were empty, but in some places life was still going on

And in this window you can do plastic surgery for free. My little Chinese boy and I got the face of such a beauty, so now my twin is walking around the world.

This photo also shows what I was shooting for – an old (then still brand new) Ipad 2 with a 0.7MP camera. Despite the rather modest capabilities of this camera, it seems to me that it managed to convey the spirit of the place. In 2020, when I decided to get these photos from the archive and publish, this iPad still works great. So if this report catches the eye of someone from Apple employees – tell your bosses that you are great. At least you were great at that time. And yes, you can pay me for advertising.¯\_()_/¯


China, 2012
All images and text © Oleg Kolimbet

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