Tianjin: a cyberpunk Manhattan 30 minutes off Beijing

Plagiarism is what surprises most westerners visiting China. Leaving legal issues aside, the cultural aspect of plagiarism, or let’s say “direct inspiration” is quite relaxed here. For many years it is totally fine in China to find a smartphone, which looks almost the same as iPhone, but has proprietary OS inside (and even TV sometimes)… or a car that looks exactly like Volkswagen Passat, but have local manufacturer’s plaque on it.

The city of Tianjin went even further — it has districts that look like were built in late 19th century London and Amsterdam or early 20th century New York City. The trick is those buildings are just 3–5 years old. Tianjin

You walk the city and sometimes it looks like part of Rotterdam where taken off and implanted into China. Tianjin

You continue the journey through Western Europe of China and see places, that might belong to France, Netherlands or even UK. Tianjin Tianjin Tianjin

You walk inside the yard and feel like you’ve been teleported to the city of Lviv in Western Ukraine. Tianjin

Walk few more blocks and you’re in Manhattan! Look maaa, the Empire State Building! Tianjin Tianjin

The Dark Side

Don’t be fooled by those westernized images of Tianjin. It is just a few blocks away from the “usual China”: high tech and low life in a single shot. Tianjin

Exploring the city from above: you see real estate boom inside some districts and poverty of neighboring ones. Tianjin Tianjin Tianjin

Let’s go down again and have a short walk. We start on a wealthy avenue, they all look the same here: shopping malls and newly built high-rise office buildings (especially popular among financial sector). Tianjin Tianjin Tianjin

Chinese wedding: 2 black cars arrive at shopping mall entrance, did a few confetti shots up in the air and went away, leaving all the glitters on the ground. Tianjin

We’re entering “ghetto” just 2 blocks from the shopping mall and financial center. Tianjin Tianjin

Say hello to the punk dog! Tianjin

This is how working class neighborhood looks like in Tianjin. Tianjin Tianjin Tianjin

Unlike US or Canada, such neighborhoods are relatively safe in China. Even at night. Tianjin Tianjin Tianjin Tianjin Tianjin

Dark alleys are safe too. Tianjin

The thing I like about China is markets. It is not hard to find markets in Chinese cities, because many poor districts act as markets themselves. Tianjin Tianjin Tianjin

Walking few more blocks and we arrive to the new McManson style housing estate. You know, we’re in China, thus McMansions are 40 floors high. Tianjin

Walk another 5 minutes and you’re in a business district which feels like Singapore meets London. Tianjin Tianjin Tianjin Tianjin Tianjin

Unlike London or Singapore it is full of copycat cars. Tianjin Tianjin

To my taste, those business districts look really good, but always miss some genuine feeling, you’re having on poorer districts nearby.

Like most large cities in Asia, Tianjin looks much better at night, with its Blade Runner vibe. Tianjin