Saturday, August 22, 2009

Fun with signs

Today I went to Anshan, 鞍山, the third largest city in Liaoning Province. One knows it's third because the provincial license plates have a letter that designates what city the car is from based on size. Shenyang cars have an “A” because it’s the biggest city. Dalian has “B” and Anshan, “C.” And so on. In more clever use of signs, we drove up on the Shenda Expressway whose name is a concatenation of the first couple of letters of the terminus at each end. As in Shen(yang) – Da(lian.) I suppose there is some flexibility here as Shendal doesn’t sound so great, nor does Shedali. In fact that one doesn’t sound good at all.

The Shenda is a really nice road, having been built to allow the easy movement of weapons and materials down the peninsula in the event of a war. It’s wide, it has a great surface and as Jiang pointed out it is specifically designed to have long, flat stretches that provide adequate take off and landing space for jet fighters. It seems sort of anachronistic to me though, we built the Interstate Highway Defense System back in the 50’s when the Reds were almost certainly going to come at us through Canada and Mexico. Now though, in this age of Predators and Nukes, it seems sort of quaint to have a road made fantastic solely for the purpose of fighting a war on 20th century terms. But I ain’t complaining, it’s fast and smooth and in perfect repair. In other words the ideal road to travel when speed is desirable.

It was a long day, and I’m in no mind to wax loquacious so instead I’m offering up this silly set of photographs, the first group shot the other night in front of the luxury hi-rise going up next door and the second set, shot today on the road. I find signs in China to range from cute to humorous to ludicrous. This bunch hits the first two appellations.













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