Festival freeze frame: Idyllic Shanghai village comes into focus

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Festival freeze frame: Idyllic Shanghai village comes into focus

Wang Yong / SHINE

Mai Gu, a 70-year-old photo enthusiast, poses with three large framed photographs which he took at a rustic hall in Dongshe Village, suburban Qingpu District in western Shanghai.

A casually dressed young man cuddling a lap dog in his arms caught my eye as I entered a rustic hall in an ancient village in the western suburbs of Shanghai on the past drizzly Sunday. The hall had been temporarily adapted into a quasi photo salon, where large framed pictures of dynamic rural scenes were displayed.

It was the first time I had seen someone bringing in a pet for such an occasion. As I looked across the packed room with a view of a vast idyllic flower garden, I found a young lady also cradling a small dog, lowering her cheeks to touch its face.

It was a party of photo connoisseurs, who came to Dongshe Village in Qingpu District to attend an awards ceremony. I was invited because I had sat on a panel of judges responsible for appraising the photos submitted by enthusiastic photographers. They had recorded what they regarded as the most memorable moments during the village’s first-ever Hydrangea Flower Festival held in the first half of June.

The 3.12-square-kilometer pristine village, with certain archeological discoveries dating back more than 5,000 years, attracted more than 40,000 tourists, including many shutterbugs, during the two-week flower event, according to Bai Junyi, head of Mix Journey, a business group that cooperated with the village in masterminding the flower festival.

In breakdown, 25,000 tourists visited the village during the three-day Dragon Boat Festival holiday alone, which lasted from June 8 to 10. To put these figures into perspective, Bai said the village would usually attract no more than 50 visitors a day in the past.

Festival freeze frame: Idyllic Shanghai village comes into focus

Mo Zihan / Ti Gong

An award-winning photo of a lap dog

Festival freeze frame: Idyllic Shanghai village comes into focus

Ti Gong

Mo Zihan, a shutterbug, carries his adopted lap dog while posing with his award-winning picture.

Festival freeze frame: Idyllic Shanghai village comes into focus

Ti Gong

The lap dog poses with its picture.

It turned out that both the young man and young woman with a lap dog in their arms were among the winners of the photo contest. Their pictures of pet dogs sitting in a sea of hydrangea flowers captivated most judges, including myself, but I didn’t know the dogs in the award-winning pictures would be present at the awards ceremony along with their photographers. It was a pleasant surprise.

Mo Zihan, who won the second prize for his pet picture, carried his little dog in his left arm while addressing the audience. He said he often takes his small dog to pet-friendly villages so that she can enjoy herself freely in the bosom of nature.

When he returned to his seat after taking his prize, I asked him: “How old is this little dog?” He said: “I don’t know her exact age. She used to be a stray dog, and one day she came to me and I felt a natural bond with her, so I adopted her.”

He added that he had even created a special account on social media platforms for her, sometimes nicknamed “Miss Wang” – “Wang” is a Chinese word that means bringing good fortune to someone.

Then I asked the young woman how old her pet dog is. She said she had adopted the dog since it was born in a friend’s home. “It’s 4 years old now,” the lady revealed, feeling happy that her lap dog’s photo had won her a top prize for best colors.

Festival freeze frame: Idyllic Shanghai village comes into focus

Wang Yong / SHINE

Above and below: Mai Gu, a 70-year-old photo enthusiast, shows how he finds the elderly farmer in Dongshe Village and records the fleeting moment of the farmer’s hearty smile.

Festival freeze frame: Idyllic Shanghai village comes into focus

Wang Yong / SHINE

Not just the pet pictures, but each final entry in the photo contest had a unique story to tell.

For 70-year-old Mai Gu, a retired worker who lives in nearby Zhujiajiao, a popular ancient watertown, an ideal rural trip would often involve catching and recording the fleeting moments of rustic beauty in the form of unassuming farmers. “I often walk long distances in the countryside and wait long hours just to discover the most disarming and yet unassuming smile of local farmers,” he explained.

Mai’s enthusiasm for rural landscapes was shared by almost every participant at the awards ceremony. During short breaks, shutterbugs looked for every chance to zoom in on the rustic environment surrounding the temporary photo salon.

Festival freeze frame: Idyllic Shanghai village comes into focus

Wang Yong / SHINE

A shutterbug zooms in on the rustic scene outside the rural hall in Dongshe Village.

Festival freeze frame: Idyllic Shanghai village comes into focus

Wang Yong / SHINE

Award-winning photos line up the trees along a village river.

The crowd of photo connoisseurs buzzing with excitement on Sunday afternoon posed sort of a contrast with what I remember about the village a few years back. I visited the village many times over the past five years, and some local elderly farmers would often tell me that it was rare for them to see many outside visitors.

Things began to change in 2023 after Dongshe became a model village in Shanghai’s rural revitalization drive and introduced Mix Journey as a strategic partner in turning the village into a more accessible haven for people who appreciate having an experience of living or playing in nature.

Chen Yingchun, the village head, told me on Sunday that Dongshe will make an effort to further improve the water quality of its 13 rivers with the help of waterborne plants and aquatic life, so that they will become crystal clear in about one year. “Then you can dive into the rivers, like we did in our childhood.”

As a panelist appraising every entry submitted by the finalists in the photo contest, I would say that every entry has a beautiful story to tell. It is not just a story of colors or shapes, more importantly, it’s a story about ordinary people’s love of a healthy life in a setting where man and nature exist in harmony.

Let every photo speak for itself. Dear reader, you are the final judge.

Festival freeze frame: Idyllic Shanghai village comes into focus

Ti Gong

Two children sit on a wall in Dongshe Village.

Festival freeze frame: Idyllic Shanghai village comes into focus

Ti Gong

Girls murmur amid blooming hydrangea flowers in Dongshe Village.

Festival freeze frame: Idyllic Shanghai village comes into focus

Ti Gong

On the left door are three Chinese words referring to the Anywhere Door in the Doraemon anime. According to Han Mei, who helped design the Hydrangea Flower Festival, the Anywhere Door here represents a popular wish that everyone can realize his or her dreams.

Festival freeze frame: Idyllic Shanghai village comes into focus

Ti Gong

A young lady walks on an ancient stone bridge in Dongshe Village

Festival freeze frame: Idyllic Shanghai village comes into focus

Ti Gong

A girl runs holding a hydrangea-decorated ice cream cone in the village.

Festival freeze frame: Idyllic Shanghai village comes into focus

Ti Gong

A young cyclist passes by a flower bridge in the village.

Festival freeze frame: Idyllic Shanghai village comes into focus

Ti Gong

Walking through hydrangea flowers

Festival freeze frame: Idyllic Shanghai village comes into focus

Ti Gong

A pair of dogs seemingly smile in the bosom of hydrangea flowers.

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multipurpose site for ROV ,drone services,mineral ores,ingots,agro commodities-oils,pulses,fatty acid distillate,rice,tomato concentrate,animal waste -gallstones,maggot feed ,general purpose niche -consumer goods,consumer electronics and all .Compedium of news around the world,businesses,ecommerce ,mineral,machines promotion and affiliation and just name it ...

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