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Elderly woman becomes tourist draw

By HE QI in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2021-05-11 09:01
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An 80-year-old woman has had to temporarily leave home after a romantic bowknot tied on her historic Shanghai building attracted too much attention from sightseers.

The woman has been living on the top floor of a historic building on Wukang Road, the heart of the former French Concession that attracts visitors for the many fashionable restaurants, cafes and boutiques that line both sides of the road.

The building has been a quiet dwelling to four households, including the woman, until recently when a large pink bowknot on its second-floor balcony's iron railing fell prey to curiosity-seeking visitors.

At first, when visitors came to take photos of the pink bowknot, the woman, not knowing the reason for their visits, would kindly wave back when she passed by the balcony.

A video depicting the scene was captured and uploaded during the recent May Day holiday, which soon went viral. The post on short-video platform Douyin titled "the kindly granny comes out to the bowknot balcony on Wukang Road today" received 64,000 likes and over 8,000 comments.

Hundreds of visitors have since followed on a daily basis. During peak hours, the crowd waiting on the street was like "waiting for a princess in a Disney castle" according to one netizen. The woman, who has been living in the building for over 30 years, told news website that eventually she had to be slow and careful when passing by the balcony so as not to cause a stir among the visitors downstairs. Yet she still had been called out to the balcony so many times that she couldn't carry on.

The bowknot was an idea of a neighbor and had hung there since February, the woman said. Yet many had considered it the elderly woman's idea, making it even more romantic to include the historic building in the picture.

While the bowknot has been taken off and the granny relocated by her family for a break, discussions on the matter continued online and offline.

"It would be fine if the passersby only visit and take photos of the bowknot without affecting the grandma and her neighbors. However, shouting will not only affect the normal life in the block but also might be illegal, as causing traffic jams and disturbing public security all violate the law," said Ji Ying, a lawyer at Shanghai City Development Law Firm.

"It is great to see the integration of a romantic bowknot with historical buildings, but relevant departments should help to relieve the potential chaos by posting signs not to shout slogans and setting up educational volunteers."

The bowknot event did get attention from the local tourism authority. On May 8, Fang Shizhong, director of Shanghai Municipal Administration of Culture and Tourism, said civilized behaviors from residents and tourists are essential to the development of holistic tourism.

"Tourists are creating a scene in the process of experiencing beautiful scenery. The civilized degree of tourists' behavior is an important part of the landscape," Fang said.

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