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This is going to be a long one, with lots of photos, but I think the lovers of randomness will like it; it’s as random as it gets.

Apparently Shanghai has a new plan called “One City, Nine Towns”. It means they’re going to build nine living areas in styles inspired by different countries. So far they have two: the Dutch Village and the English Village.

As soon as I heard about it, I knew I had to see it. So the first chance I got to go to Shanghai, I jumped on the red metro line, rode all the way to the last stop, Songjiang New City, and took a bus to the “Ying-shi xiaozhen” (the English village). Or you can take a cab or even walk, it takes about 40 minutes ā€“ just in case you want to know how to get there!

It was not a disappointment. I started grinning the second I got there: all the paraphernalia of an English town, masticated and spat out by a Chinese architect. And it’s all empty. I mean, it’s built for people to live in and there’s no one there, no one except for a small bunch of tourists and masses of newlyweds. All the shops are galleries or high-end fashion places, there isn’t a single grocery store in view.

But it’s also a very nice, quiet spot to take a walk and get away from the busy Shanghai life.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you:

Chinese security is singularly unfit for wearing these red uniforms. And what’s with the deer?

Peace & Love Kindergarten?

I don’t want to know what happens when you plug in the cable going out of that coloured cow’s rear…

This looks like the Shanghainese version of the Tower…

Flamingos – typical of the British Isles

Windsor Island

Now a tiny contest: who are these famous and important people, the statues of whom are strewn around the whole place?

The steam engine guy? What’s his name…


Erm, Florence Nightingale?

No idea. G.B. Shaw?

Tom Thumb?

And of course… Harry Potter.

China Unicom phone booth.

Of course, the wedding shots. No, seriously. Except for these guys and some tourists there is NO ONE there.

This is not a typical Chinese mailbox.

And there was a church. Only they went for Catholic. In a traditional English village? A bit unexpected…

Someone did a good job with it, though, and chose very classical masterpieces to copy: El Greco, Rembrandt and here: Simone Martini

Then next to it there was a devotional shop for Chinese Catholics…

…also selling Smurf mascots.

And a tram for tourists.

But let us not be deceived. Whatever Tudor or Georgian houses you see, still flowing high up above this ā€“ is the red flag of the People’s Republic of China.