I rode into Dongguan by train and immediately began asking around about how to get to the mall. Now dubbed “The Not So Great Mall of China,” the New South China Mall is a shining example of China’s “if you build it they will come” ethic gone bust. It was the largest mall on the planet, dwarfing the Edmonton Mall as well as the Mall of America, which it is twice the size of. At first, the New South China Mall was a monument to China’s new consumer culture and position as a rising power in the world. Thanks for the article, but I think you are very confused about something. http://www.ce.cn/cysc/fdc/fc/201204/26/t20120426_21154187.shtml, The Traveler’s Plot Line: How To Make Your Travels Interesting, Cheering And Dancing Their Way To Lockdown, How To Travel During The Coronavirus Pandemic, Prove Me Wrong: The Orange Guy Is The Liberal Choice, Trevor’ed Again! I looked at the people on the bus and in the streets. As the Times put it, with perhaps a trace of hyperbole, the "Chinese have started to embrace America's 'shop till you drop' ethos and are in the middle of a buy-at-the-mall frenzy." They, therefore, have no incentive to travel to Dongguan. Anything’s possible, so who knows? The mall that was supposed to be a national monument was even lost on the people whose city it was built in: nobody could tell me how to get there because nobody goes there. She thought for only a brief moment before replying simply, “Maybe two more hours.”. In fact, this mall continues functioning as though it has no idea it’s 99% dead. That hasn’t been true for the New South China Mall in the ten plus years since its opening. It was supposed to have been the greatest shopping center ever built on the face of the earth. They also built their own public transportation network in the form of a 2.1 km canal upon which gondolas could transport tired passengers from wing to wing of this massive mall, an amusement park which contained, among other things, a 553-meter indoor-outdoor roller coaster, myriad fountains and kitsch, and one of the biggest IMAX theaters in the country. One candidate says no more lockdowns, the other wants to put us in plexiglass boxes. Too far away. An uncomfortable feeling of impermanence and ephemerality is in the air of these places, and the conception that everything — including yourself — is being hurled towards eminent demise is never more stark. It boasts a hotel, an indoor/outdoor roller coaster which spans the complex, a canal with gondolas, and various replicas including the Arc de Triomphe, and Sphinx. The New South China Mall is still 99% deserted. This place was a great arc built for a flood that never came — a dream of grandeur startled awake by reality. Doubly so, as the locals were unable to give them the exact directions. Run of the mill folk in the greatest factory town on earth. That doesn’t mean that building new infrastructure and buildings is inherently wrong or evil. I was becoming nauseous and I couldn’t figure out if it was from the constant start and stop, inch-worming of the bus, the exhaust fumes that I’ve been huffing while stuck in this traffic, or if it was the mood of this run-down place itself. The government claimed back so much farmland initially that about half of it was given back after the airport was completed. No mall in the world can rival New South China in any category, except perhaps number of tenants. One such hiccup was the South China Mall, a massive retail project that failed to live up to its potential. residential costs are too high for the locals who don’t get much back from the new prosperity of the country. The empty Teletubbies Amusement Park at the mall. To give visitors a European experience, the builders constructed replicas of famous landmarks like the Arc de Triomphe from Paris, a Venetian canal complete with gondolas, and St. Mark’s bell tower from Venice. The Chinese built this colossus in the city of Dongguan in Guangdong province in 2005. Failure is not something the Chinese admit to very easily — especially when it means sacrificing a lot of face on the international stage. She appeared incredibly bored, and it was inevitably only a matter of moments before she would again fix her attention onto her smartphone and I could then sneak past undetected. I rode this bus for an hour through the torn up, blown apart, dug up, maybe-soon-to-be-redeveloped outskirts of the greatest urban monstrosity on planet earth before I began wondering if I was actually being taken near the mall. Unfortunately, I came from downtown Dongguan. The New South China Mall, situated in Dongguan City, is considered to be the largest shopping mall in the world. Whatever is the case, China seems to be playing their role in it. They were going for a monument, and a monument was what they got. From the looks of things, it didn’t seem as if I was going “near” anywhere. If you stayed in Nancheng, and had a passing acquaintance with any online map website, you’d be able to walk from the bustling Hongfu street to the mall in thirty minutes (as I just did). I described it, asked for it by name, and even showed people its characters that I had written down in my notebook. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2168507/Footage-shows-brand-new-Angolan-city-designed-500-000-lying-empty.html. If this was a smaller project it probably would have fallen into bankruptcy a long time ago, been demolished and forgotten. Hong Kong and Shenzhen are immediately to the southeast, Macau to the south, and Guangzhou to the west. (Milowent / Wikimedia Commons). For scale, I could have gotten to Hong Kong in less time that it took me to get from central Dongguan to its monumental mall. The place was like Las Vegas transformed into mall, no extent of gimmicky, over the top monumentality was spared. To put it simply, this area became a global catalyst of economic stimulus, sprouting businesses by the thousand, attracting foreign enterprises, and bringing in millions of migrant workers from around the country to provide the muscle needed to prop up this new economic behemoth. To get there from Dongguan, the city residents must travel for about two hours and, moreover, change a few buses to complete the journey. I asked a girl from Dongguan where the center of the city was, and she told me rather awkwardly that it was moving out to the mall. In fact, from the largely deserted New South China Mall to thriving centers such as the Dubai Mall and the Persian Gulf complex, virtually all of the world´s top 20 biggest malls are in Asia. The fact that these machines were supposed to have been moving made them seem all the more dead. When the South China Mall opened in Dongguan in Guangdong Province in China in 2005, the Chinese, as well as the foreign media, celebrated it as the largest mall in the world. It’s just a big joke!! Unfortunately, unlike the Dubai Mall and the Mall of America, the South China Mall has not so far enjoyed the widespread success its developers expected. An escalator at South China Mall. (I don’t like malls and consumerism). Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. She asked the bus attendant. I couldn’t even begin to concoct a logical explanation for why I was traveling for hours across an urban wasteland to go to a mall with no stores, so I told her the truth: because it’s the biggest mall in the world and I want to see it. Then, to amuse the crowds further, they also added a 1,814 feet roller coaster. The project was an earmark in history, as it indicated an economic shift demonstrating that the Chinese have become a viable consumer culture in their own right. Many of these existing malls are relatively new, although traditional covered shopping areas have a long history in parts of Asia. The only places in the mall that see a trickle of visitors are a few restaurants like McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut, and Kungfu, the IMAX film theatre, a small amusement park for children, and a former parking area that is now a Go-Kart track.