Friday, November 17, 2006

The not-so-great wall of Liaohua

Well folks, I've managed to find a way back into blogger that runs at a reasonably usable speed (using about four different proxy type things in unison – I have no idea what any of it does, but seems to work.) So anyway, Internet police kicking in my front door and dragging me off to Internet jail notwithstanding, I should be able to post a bit more regularly now. Hopefully I can post the back-log of comments that I wasn't able to put up either.

And now, onto today's scheduled entertainment:

So I bought a bike a couple of weeks ago, as a handy means of getting round in Liaoyang, which is pretty flat and sprawling. Once you forget about such quaint western notions as 'helmet' 'lights' and 'road rules' its a nice way to see the city. For a change of scene, Paul, Andrew and I decided last weekend to head to Liao Hoa, which is a sort of village about 40 minutes (by bike) south of Liaoyang proper. So we set out, on a gentle incline into a slight, but persistent headwind. Me on my fancy schmancy mountain bike with such trimmings as gears and things, Paul and Andrew on the more traditional, fixed gear Chinese style workhorse. Suffice to say several kilometers and a bunch of gear changes later, I was glad I spent the extra 100 or so RMB.

We passed a small war cemetery on the way (not sure which war) which was fairly interesting, and the skeleton of a pretty huge stadium that they're building out in the fields. For what? I have no idea, there was a suggestion that some of the Football games in the Olympics might be played down the road in Shenyang, so maybe they'll be using it for training or some such. If so, Liaoyang's got some cleaning up to do.

Anyway, Liao Hoa.

There's a saying in China that you aren't truly a man until you have walked on the great wall. By this reckoning, I figure I'm now about 1/100th of man. Liao Hoa, in a typically Chinese attempt at getting the punters in, decided to build a sort of mini-Great Wall a couple of years back. Also in typical Chinese fashion, it seems that they sunk a whole lot of money into building the wall, furnishing it with a lovely asphalt car park, hedge maze, and crazy "Animals of the Zodiac Statuary Petting Zoo", then totally lost interest and/or ran out of cash. What this means is that you spend about half an hour wandering around the grounds of some Liao Hoa chemical concern, wondering just how much damage that smell is doing to your brain, and looking for one of about 5 nondescript and completely unsignposted roads that heads up the hill to the 'great' wall. Its kind of like stumbling upon an abandoned theme-park in the middle of a bunch of factories. In fact that's exactly what its like.

Enough chit-chat. Onto some images.

Residents of Liaoyang will tell you that Liao Hoa is very beautiful. It is a lot newer than most other places I've seen, but row upon row of identical apartment buildings, against a backdrop of smoke spewing chimneys, isn't exactly my idea of beautiful (those buildings in the foreground are under construction).


So here's the xiǎo cháng chéng (small great wall, if I may be allowed to invent Chinese names) in all its glory:

The Not-so-great Wall at Laohua

And speaking of things that are in all their glory:

Take that Imperialist dogs!

Take that everybody who's never straddled a tank before.

There were some cool old A-frame houses up by the wall, but they were unoccupied and full to the rafters with rubbish. I'm assuming the owners moved out when the local government (or whoever built the wall) came to them and said “We're going to place these huge concrete dragons on your roofs. I hope you built sturdy”.

Dragon Houses

And, proving that I was not just being alarmist before, even large stone structures are not immune to the inexorable onslaught of the ladybug menace:

The Ladybug invasion continues...

On the way out of town, we spotted this building, and its identical counter-part directly across the intersection. Impressive no? Oddly (and yet, increasingly unsurprisingly) both buildings are completely empty. I mean completely, bare concrete shells with a few supporting beams inside. Like so many things in this country, their origin and purpose is beyond the ken of a simple-minded Laowai like me.


Looks like wikipedia is down again in China too. The party giveth...

Tomorrow night: The great Chinese/American/New Zealander drinking party, at the best damn dumpling restaurant in town. The language barrier will add an interesting flavour to what promises to be a night of brain and liver damaging macho-posturing. There may be tales to tell.

Stay tuned Decadentwesterndogkateers.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

you should have a tv show