Part 5: Wujin District
In new mainland China, it takes forever to cross a main intersection. On this particular crossing in Wujin district, you must cross an ebike lane, a bus lane, two car lines, and a BRT lane to get to the middle, and then the same plus one more car lane to get to the opposite sidewalk. (I don’t have a picture, so see Baidu maps.) The construction of these streets are reminiscent of the Haussmann boulevards that began to cut across Paris in the mid 1800s and divide up old quartiers where residents knew their butcher, their baker, and candlestick maker.
Nestled in a corner by this intersection is 萬福石村 (Wanfushi Cun = 10000 Blessings Rock Village), which appears to be a village that has never or rarely sees DSLRs. I saw the words 湖唐橋 (Hutang Bridge) out the window on the BRT ride to Decathalon and decided that it was worth a visit one day. I was surprised to see the sign 東風陶瓷店 (Eastern Wind Ceramics Shop) in traditional Chinese characters. With the paint job on the sign I could believe that the shop predates the Cultural Revolution. This must be another area where residents can get everything, from food to porcelain to unspecified adult products, condoms, and dried corn kernels
Continuing on the BRT, you eventually end up at Yancheng Village, which is an important site in Changzhou history as it was a village surrounded by moats 3000 years ago. I went there on a school field trip, co-supervising 9-14 year olds who were supposed to learn about the history of Changzhou. As with Tianning Temple and the Qing dynasty city walls in Part 3, it was impossible to tell that any buildings there were older than 10 years. There were no ruins of any sort. The museum that housed artifacts including weapons, jewelry, and pottery was the only site with any real history. The rest of the village housed a 4D animated movie theater, bumper cars, roller coasters, and other rides. On one particular “ride,” you can get a bird’s eye view of the surroundings. I didn’t capture the following video with intent to publish it anywhere, so excuse the quality of the shaky iPhone 4 unedited video with student commentary.
p till now, what I’ve shown of Changzhou is somewhat romanticized through editing. I believe that if I’m going to make a place appear uninteresting or unappealing, it is better that I not shoot or show it at all. Black and white generally gives photos a timeless look, but I also did it for the reason of diminishing the visual effect of smog. The unedited video gives you a sense of what things look like before I tinker with RAW files. More of that to come in Part 7!
Stay tuned for Part 6, which will be on the fanfare surrounding Leehom Wang’s visit to Changzhou.