History lesson around the old city wall, and the old Zhaoqing.
Dec 5, 2017
|This was going to be a great outing, and it did not disappoint in any way!
I was to meet Winnie at 3pm, and that meant that Melrose could join us too. She is going to take us around the old wall, and tell us some of the history, and the new developments.
I arrived in good time, but Melrose was running late, waiting for an elusive bus. The #4 seems to be rather irregular, but it gets to where we need to get! I did not need to worry, as Winnie rang to say she was also running late, as she had taken a taxi to collect her Mum. She wants to join us today too. And that added so much to our little journey, as she lived and grew up within the old city walls.
We met near where Kangle Lu runs alonside the western end of the wall, and wandered along. It is all very beautiful, but I find it a little disturbing how many of the old houses are being demolished. We learnt however, that this is a big part of the leap in house prices in Zhaoqing in recent times. The people who were resident in the old part of the city were given quite considerable compensation by the government, which brought a lot of house buyers into the market. I just hope that they are happy with their new purchases.
As were were walking along the northern side of the wall, where it looks out over Songcheng Lu, we were all inclined to look out over the street, but were approached by a rather authoritative young man who told us to stay away from the edge. Winnie understood that there was an activity taking place! We wondered if it had anything to do with the re-development and publicity and promotion.
But further on, there were a lot of sirens and obvious police presence, so of course we all headed back to look out over the wall. And not just us, but also other Chinese people who just happened to be there too. We were all herded back from the edge, in no uncertain terms. We laughed between ourselves, and joked about an important person travelling below, and that perhaps they thought we may be terrorists, or have sniper rifles!!
The next day, I discovered that the president of China Xi Jin Ping was actually in the city, so this must have been why they were fearful of potential security issues. The guy who was in charge of security on the top of the wall was not in uniform, which indicated at the time that he must be very important, to be an undercover agent!! Just a little excitement!
Winnie's Mum pointed out where she was born, and lived, while she was growing up. It was just over the road from what became Zhaoqing's #1 hospital. She was the oldest of six children, and only went to school for six years. Her Mother considered that she should not go to school at all, as she was more valuable at home, taking care of the younger children. But her Dad overruled Mum's decision, and she did get to finish primary school.
I was actually surprised to discover that Zhaoqing #1 People's Hospital has been de-commissioned, and has been replaced by a new hospital in the the eastern section of the city. It has not been used for about four years now.
We proceeded along the northern side of the wall, past the beautiful tower, which is not easy to get good shots of at the moment, but it will be finished up soon, and the scaffolding removed.
Toward the east of the tower is a platform, that I asked Winnie about. This is where the general would have stood to inspect his troops in front of him on the wall. In the middle of the old city is a very old building that was the general's residence. As the wall steps down from the platform, there are bricks, and quite a few have the stamp marking who made them, and where.
We made an amazing discovery at one of the information plaques along the wall. I was under the impression that the wall is one thousand years old, but it has been here for two thousand two hundred years. There were maps, that looked like mud maps of the old layout. But for me, they were very difficult to understand, being all in Chinese, and I guess some of it was even difficult for Winnie to translate easily.
As we headed along the Eastern end of the wall, Winnie and her Mum showed us the old market site, which Winnie's Mum remembers using in her youth. It is just outside the wall, and there is a lovely mural, depicting the market area, with all the different aspects of local life from many years ago.
And they told us about how the system worked in those days. So the ruler (general?) who built the wall had many sons. As they became adults, he sent them off to war, to capture other territories, and set up towns of their own. He decided who would inherit Duanzhou, which was the original name of Zhaoqing, according to his warring ability, so that son got to inherit and he actually re-named the city Zhaoqing, which means a big celebration, and a victory!
When we arrived at the mid point of the eastern end of the wall, we went down a series of steps into the old city. This is awesome. Maybe not the oldest section, but still very old! And people still live here. Apparently this area will not be completely removed, so that is good to know.
During special times, like Spring Festival, and Mid-Autumn Festival, apparently the locals all dress in the costumes of the time of the building of the city wall.
The street along the southern end of the city's name translates at Grass Shoes Street. Neither Winnie nor her Mum know why it is given this name, as it probably would not be the only street where the grass shoes would be common. There were a lot of old relics along here, and strong reminders of the past.
We got to go into a long narrow art gallery, where there was old artwork, including photos from the 1940s and 50s. Very, very interesting. I am looking forward to re-visiting during Spring Festival, when Carol is here!
When we all split up, for Winnie and her Mum to go home, Melrose and I decided to get a bus over to my house. My stew was waiting, with the vegetables ready to pop in, to finish it off.
We got a #10 bus, which would take us back to my place. I suggested that we get off one stop further on, to see if it was going to take us closer to my place. What a great decision. We found a fabulous little shop that sells shoes, sport clothes and hitch-hiking type backpacks. The young woman who owns the shop owns the name, and has her shoes manufactured in Zhaoqing, clothing in Foshan and bags in Guangzhou. I think that is right. I know the shoes are made in Zhaoqing.
I bought a really comfortable pair of shoes for only 79rmb, and Melrose got some for 49rmb! Unbelievable, as the quality really appears to be very good. My amazement was that I found ladies shoes to fit me!! There was a poster, displaying what appeared to be new stock. I asked if they had any of those in stock, and tried on a pair, but they really only just fit. But she did say that she had them in one size bigger, and that she could have a larger pair there tomorrow after about 6pm. They were 128rmb, about $25, so I am really hoping that the next size will be perfect.
We headed back to my place, and enjoyed our beef stew, filled with a lot of veges, and accompanied by mashed potato, even if it was a little late, by the time we ate!