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china-10-tianjin_v1_m56577569830510997

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   T  I    Ā     N  J    Ī        N   Like B ě ij ī ng, Shàngh ǎ i and Chóngqìng, Ti ā nj ī n belongs to no province – it’s a special municipality, with considerable autonomy. Its history as a foreign concession, large port and European architecture suggest muted echoes of Shàngh ǎ i, but Ti ā nj ī n is often over-looked by travellers charging to B ě ij ī ng.  Ti ā nj ī n is proud of its impressive concession-era architecture, which lends the city a kind of shabby nobility. In the run-up to the 2008 Olympics, the city is sprucing itself up and many notable buildings have plaques detailing their histories. Not to be upstaged by big brother B ě ij ī ng, Ti ā nj ī n has joined in the frenzied sport of demoli-tion and road-widening, levelling huge swathes of the city. Its modest subway system has been modernised and extended; dramatic new bridges span the Hai River; and modern architecture pokes into the stark skies. But the city still exemplifies the disparities of modern China, with smart office complexes overlooking dilapidated courtyards from which spill chickens and geese. This coincides with a drought that surpasses even B ě ij ī ng’s famed thirst; Ti ā nj ī n’s per capita water supplies are reportedly worse than Saudi Arabia’s. As a result, dust invades every nook and cranny and shiny new buildings are rapidly coated in a sprinkling of dirt.  Ti ā nj ī n remains a long way from cosmopolitanism: clutching throngs of taxi drivers mill around the train station exit and locals sit around, waiting for something to happen. Ac-commodation tends to be expensive, but you can travel down from B ě ij ī ng in less than 1½ hours so a day-trip could suffice. Ti ā nj ī n 天津   AREA CODE: % 022   POPULATION: 42.1 MILLION HIGHLIGHTS   Take stock of central Ti ā nj ī n’s grand treaty port architecture ( p179 )    Explore Ancient Culture Street ( p181 ) and delve into the Tianhou Temple    Rummage for knick-knacks in Ti ā nj ī n’s Antique Market ( p181 )   Join worshippers seeking guidance at the Monastery of Deep Compassion ( p181 ),  Ti ā nj ī n’s leading Buddhist shrine    Trek out of town to the historic Shi Family Courtyard ( p184 ) Tiƒnj¸nCourtyardShi Family 177 © Lonely Planet Publications

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Jul 23, 2017
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