Friday, September 15, 2006

The streets of Liaoyang

Weather: Smoggy and Muggy. (Smuggy)
Music: This Bike is a Pipe Bomb - Imperfection

Okay, so here's a photo-heavy one, of the merry little metropolis that is Liaoyang City.

Where the hell is Liaoyang City? Good question. Hereabouts (click for a more eyeball friendly version):


First, some fun facts:

Liaoyang is one of the oldest inhabited cities in China (well over a 1000 years, but you'd have to dig through a few layers of cement to find anything older than 1950). Japan and Russia have both stomped through here at various points, usually on their way to, or back from, killing each other for some reason or other. The population is about 700,000 in the urban bits, about 1.8 million if you include the outlying areas. Its about 1 hour by plane to Beijing. Number one question people will ask you, as a foreigner, in Liaoyang: "Why would you come here?!?"

If Liaoyang is famous for anything (which it isn't) it would be this, the White Pagoda. It's a hair shy of 750 years old I think (built during the Yuan Dynasty if someone wants to look it up).

Still, the local government felt that this ancient wonder could do with a bit of 'buddhisting up' so about six years ago, they built this kitschy temple-o-rama next door:

The bottom floor is where you pay your 50 yuan entrance fee (probably more than a tenth of most people's weekly earnings), and the whole facility is manned by a staff of professional and courteous monks, who have managed to 'streamline' the years of training, dedication and mental and spiritual effort of buddhism into a four-week course, after which they are qualified to monk to their hearts content between the hours of 8am and 5pm, six days a week. Apparently they have the largest wooden buddha in China too.

To complete the tourist trap, they have a big gate thing, with lions.

I did find this cool little sculpture in a bush around the corner though.

On to the streets:

Here you will find many wonderful goods and services, such as the friendly SIM card street dealers who you have to wade through to get to the mall

Despite being a 'communist' country, its pretty much all shopping and signage round Liaoyang town, though there is the occassional throwback:

You're far more likely to see stuff like this:

And if this aint capitalism, I don't know what is:

What would Mao think?

Almost forgot: Liaoyang has a moat! Take that not-moat-having cities of the world!

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