12 November 2007 | Tanya Goodin

A head for heights

From the Tamar China office window I have been watching a man walking along a girder 40 stories up on a half-built skyscraper opposite. He has no visible safety harness & looks completely unconcerned. I’ve had to look away a few times as he’s <gulp>kneeled down on the girder & looked over the edge</gulp>

Its a cliché but no less true for that, that Shanghai is one big building site. Coming in from Pudong airport the first thing you see after the rice fields are the cranes, rows and rows of them. And the skyline is awash with strange shaped buildings under construction, each taller than the next.

But in between all the modern buildings, and especially in the Old City, there are still pockets of traditional buildings & traditional China. This juxtaposition is what makes Shanghai so compelling – the old men cyclying on their bicycles jabbering into mobile phones, the western designer brands on billboards posted next to ancient temples, our taxi radio blaring out ‘Hotel California’ as it swept us into the city (OK maybe not so ‘modern’ the last example…)

I’ve got a lot to get done here in the next few days and so far I’ve got 30 straight hours without sleep. And I have to admit tall buildings are not my forte, suffering as I do with a tiny bit of vertigo… but there’s an absolute buzz about the city which is sweeping me along and really energising me despite the sleep deprivation. I’ve even been whizzing up and down in lifts 20-30 floors without my usual panic.

If you have any doubt about the digital future being Chinese you only have to come here. The way in which the Chinese are grasping any and all new technology is astounding. Last year for the first time there was a blogging conference attended by just some of China’s estimated 20 million bloggers, yes that’s 20 *million* bloggers in a country where the bicycle is still the ubiquitous form of transport.. As I sit here writing this in Tamar’s China office I’ve just become one of them!

Tanya Goodin

Tanya Goodin

Founder of Tamar