This picture is the story of me being stuck in Shanghai for a night.
The first human contact I had with Shanghai was this angry Chinese guy yelling at us (by us I mean me and 5/6 other fools thinking they could get their transfer to Tokyo Narita) We were wrong, the Chinese guy didn’t want to let us through the gate. Too late. No exceptions, no negotiations, no nothing. So what, we stay here? Another angry Chinese guy gives us a fragile piece of paper for the next flight : tomorrow morning. We were officially stuck in China for at least 16 hours. Not officially yet as we needed to get a temporary visa.
Quickly I realize that I can’t connect to any of my social medias. Oh yeah right, China. I can’t talk to any of my friend, I am officially out of touch with the western world. Fortunately these TV has propaganda playing, there is no way we can get bored!
After another couple of hours, my passport has a cool new stamp. I stick with a nice french couple, and we head to the airline office. After another hour, a guy finally tells us to hop on a bus. Everyone is Chinese, everything is written in Chinese, and the bus is definitely crappy. I think we followed his order as a pure sense of adventure. Why not? we have plenty of time to get lost anyway.
The air outside is dirty. I never felt this before. It’s so polluted it’s almost solid, you can touch it, and it’s disgusting. The sky is a depressing shade of grey, the sun is not even trying to make a way through the toxic cloud anymore. It looks like a depressing science-fi movie where the earth is dying from pollution. But it’s real and happening right now.
We arrive at the hotel 25 minutes later, the lady at the reception has her bang around a hair curler and she doesn’t seem to give a fuck about what we think. I respect that more than I can admit. She gave us our rooms without asking questions, after all we are « China Eastern VIP guests ».
My room is dirty but not as dirty as the one my friends got. Their smells like cold cigarettes. Mine has marks above my bed. Hand marks, from a girl. Plenty of them. I am not disgusted but I find it intriguing that some people got turned on in here. And when you stay in a crappy motel, you don’t really want to think about the number of people who had sex before in the bed you try to sleep in.
We had cold rice for dinner and some other stuff I could not really recognize in a metal plate, just like prisoners. I think about my friends in Tokyo, I think about the lights, the food, the sounds, the craziness of Japan, while I am being stuck in this purgatory. I am not sad, nor pissed of, life is not often as you expect, especially when you are travelling. So I decide to live this moment as another unexpected adventure.
When we head back to our rooms from the restaurant, it’s finally night time, and the hotel got a new atmosphere. I find so much beauty in it that I came back to photograph it. Everything is a shot out of a Blade runner movie, and this picture is the perfect illustration of this night.
I barely slept, I didn’t not felt pain or joy, just the pure and simplest form of loneliness, of being a stranger in a strange place.