Life in Wuhan, post-pandemic, pre-vaccine: a photo-essay by a non-photographer with a phone. (A thread.)


ยท ยท Web ยท 1 ยท 19 ยท 16

The thought struck me on the subway. How normal everything seems. Everybody on the subway coming home from work, wrapped up in their own affairs. The picture of normalcy.

Then I remember the masks. That's not normal. That's the new normal.

Masks aside, though, it would be easy for an outsider to not notice the impact of the viral bomb that went off in Wuhan, scarring it. These pictures are of a shopping centre between the subway and home, as well as a popular restaurant. If you overlook the little blue things covering all the faces it's really active. When I came out of lockdown, this was all dead and I was mourning the death of a city. Prematurely, as it turns out.

3/n (yes, I forgot to number 2: sue me!)

That said, the dark side is never far away if you know where to look. This picture shows a row of shops that are closed. These shops, in the past, were NEVER closed. I could walk past at 2AM and likely see a third of them open and lit and welcoming.

Why closed?

They service a so-called "wet market" (what westerners call a "farmer's market" when they don't want it to sound ominous). And those are dying, along with the surrounding support shops.


Even the lit portions give clues as to which kinds of industries have died. This merry, well-lit, well-trafficked stretch has two dark spots. The sharp-eyed will note both are "KTV" places.

Or, in other terminology more familiar: brothels.

The entire hospitality industry from fancy hotels to small brothels like this has been gutted. Very few places survived, and those that did are chain places being kept open for prestige.


Another sign of the dark times is this delivery station where packages are delivered in the compound, safely stored until people get home from work and pick them up.

Pre-COVID it would be a bustling place, filled to bursting inside and people mobbing the door outside. Post-COVID people stand in an orderly line, separated and masked, getting in to do their business and then get out as quickly as they can with as little interaction as possible.

Standing in an orderly line. In CHINA! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ


The door of the package station has one of the more visible scars: the location QR codes used by the health tracking system. We don't track any longer, but after the lockdown was lifted in stages, we had to scan in and scan out of any enclosed space and our home compounds. Every day. Dozens of times a day.

The codes are still up. Just in case they're needed again. As is the temperature scanner at the main gate. Vigilance is the price of normalcy.


I'm trying to be fair with both the dark and the light and, as is usual for me, overbalanced in favour of the dark. Largely because of all the western press nonsense about people "hiding" things.

I'm not hiding anything. This is a skewed-slightly-to-darkness look of my ride and walk home from work every weekday. This is what life looks like post-pandemic if you're taking the pandemic seriously.


@zdl i think you've struck a good balance here

and tbh what you've portrayed in this is still noticeably "lighter" than what a lot of us elsewhere have been seeing in our own or neighbouring countries

@carcinopithecus Thank you.

And yes, it is quite a bit lighter than I expected it to be when I stepped out of my compound and into the streets for the first time late last March. I was convinced then that it would take a decade or more for Wuhan to bounce back.

@zdl I run a shop that is slowly dying :( we service weeding ๐Ÿ˜ž ceremonies. Weeding parties are now prohibited.

@lvpha I'm sorry to hear that. ๐Ÿ˜• I know the feeling somewhat. I ran a side-business with my SO (teaching English) and that's effectively dead now too. It's making barely enough money to pay for the rent of our classroom. (It used to dwarf our combined income in our day jobs.)

There's still a lot of pain hidden in the dark corners here and I imagine even more of it where it isn't yet under control.

Sign in to participate in the conversation

This is a brand new server run by the main developers of the project as a spin-off of ๐Ÿ˜ It is not focused on any particular niche interest - everyone is welcome as long as you follow our code of conduct!