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June 14, 2011

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Love is blind? ... just as well

LOVERS meeting at "Shanghai's most romantic road" these days are likely to find their tryst interrupted by illegal vendors touting their wares and piles of trash on the ground.

Tian'ai Road in Hongkou District, with its tall chinar trees and flowers, is a popular location for lovers seeking a romantic stroll in the summer.

In Chinese, "tian" and "ai" mean "sweet" and "love," so locals crowned it the most romantic road for lovers in Shanghai.

However, the formerly quiet street has now been occupied by noisy vendors selling vegetables, fruit and fish, and dropping trash on the ground.

"The problem began about three years ago. It was under control during the World Expo last year, but went back to its old state early this year," said a security guard, who asked not to be named, at the eastern gate of the Luxun Park nearby.

The park attracts many visitors who buy ingredients for meals from vendors after exercising in the park.

"Vegetables and fruit are much cheaper here than those sold in the wet market," said Wang Zhaodi, 75. "And you can bargain with street vendors," she added.

But nearby residents complain the noise starts at 5am and the dirty environment has led to the breeding of flies and mosquitoes. The road is littered with fruit peelings and wrappers.

Drivers find it hard to pass along the road and residents worry that it will be difficult for emergency services to get to the area quickly.

Hongkou District urban management officials plan to erect barriers on the street to prevent vendors from entering the area, officials said yesterday.

Mao Lifeng, the director of the urban management team, said patrols will be stepped up to stop unlicensed businesses.

Local government has invested in the "love street" image by hanging love poems and paintings on the street.

The "Love Mailbox," at the crossroads of Tian'ai Road and Sichuan Road N., is a famous spot in Hongkou where letters stamped with a "love" postmark are posted.


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