Chai (拆) is the character for Destroy and last month started appearing on a couple of the buildings on my little alleyway where i live. It is, the ultimate alleyway, with all kinds of shops selling useful and yummy stuff. A real, bustling, street full of people shopping and with a great vegetable market and small restaurants to sit outside of and eat in the summer. However after my 2 weeks out of Xi'an (Beijing -Thailand -Beijing), I returned to find 3 buildings already knocked down and another 10-15 marked. I guess it is only a matter of time until my alley with just a couple of apartment buildings becomes yet another cluster of 20 storey buildings and cars parked everywhere. Such is China.
It will be a shame, I like the cheap food and being so close to 'real China' where migrant workers live and work. I hope those who are losing their homes are being compensated enough (they are usually not). Keep watching to find out how quick the buildings disappear and what will replace them... there could be a miracle and some green space might appear, but it is unlikely!
Last night, leaving a club (the 1st i have been to in Xi'an in 8 months, since I normally stick to restaurants and bars) that was (predictably) pretty crap, me and my friends started chatting to the kids who were selling roses on the street. We gathered they all live together and some guy is looking after them. They say they are surviving ok with money, food etc; but who knows how much they get for doing what they do. They don't live with their parents, anyway.
There is a big problem of children being kidnapped, or being bought from their parents, to work for 'paymasters', and then (sometimes) returned to their parents later. In this case, parents are often so poor (or do not want their kids) that they willingly give up their children (though often without knowing what will actually happen to them). We are not sure how these children are (abused or not etc); but they said their parents are still in their hometown, so it seems likely they were either sold by their parents or kidnapped. Neither is good. So sad, and not just a Developing country problem, but one that is closely related to poverty and gender issues.
It seems that having an (new) Australian flat-mate is going to cost me money and brain cells with the amount of alcohol she consumes and the impact it has on me. Oh dear, perfect preparation for the trip home and plenty of partying at Ian's (Uni flat-mate) wedding in a few weeks!