Today we will explore one of the cities lost after the Yangtze was flooded. Fengdu is touted to be the only ghost city in China.
11Apr – Yangtze; Fengdu City & Fuling
Atop Ming Mountain sits Fengdu City ... it’s 350 steps to the top, so we all took our time. For a 60 yuan fee (10 CAD), porters offered to carry people up in a bamboo rickshaw. None of took them up on their offer ... but halfway up I think they’d have had a few takers. Legend has it that Ming Mountain was a graveyard for Taoism; local Taos believe that when people die their spirits gather here. All of the temples on the hill were built in the Jin period (265-420 AD) and rebuilt in the Ming and Qing dynasties (1386-1911). At one time there were 500 monks living here; unfortunately, during the Cultural Revolution, the monks were “sent away” and never seen again. Fengdu is the only ghost city in China. The temples are all over the mountain with many statues. Although a place of quiet reflection ... this was one of the noisiest places we visited.
In the afternoon, we were treated to a spectacular display of kindness and welcoming. Our ship is the first to visit Fuling as an excursion stop. The city opened the world’s first underwater museum in 2009, but underwent renovations and reopened in March. For me, it is an emotional experience. One of my favourite books about China is “River Town,” written by Peter Hessler. Hessler spent two-years with the Peach Corps teaching English in Fuling. Wikipedia reports that Hessler received a MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" in recognition and encouragement of his "keenly observed accounts of ordinary people responding to the complexities of life in such rapidly changing societies as Reform Era China." So, when we are greeted by a cacophony of drums and symbols played by locals dressed in bright red costumes, and are cheered by thousands of townspeople, it was difficult to keep emotions in check. After walking through the noisy crowd, we’re ushered to a stage where the mayor, governor and other dignitaries welcomed us and thanked us for visiting Fuling.
The Underwater Museum houses an impressive visual display and replicas of the White Crane Ridge. On this ridge, over the past 1200+ years, over 700 people have carved their names or carved poems. As well, low water levels were recorded. From 763 AD, carvings of fish marked low water levels and 108 notations were made to note low flow on the Yangtze. Now that the ridge is under water, it is preserved with purified water and even pressure. Sadly, another treasure lost to the Three Gorges Dam.
As we exited the museum, there were still people milling after the celebrations. Grandparents with their grandchildren were proud to have their pictures taken and keen to show off their grandchildren. Another truly memorable day.
The underwater museum http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baiheliang