Thursday, June 12, 2008

China Day 13: Old Wanxian

Today was going to be my day off - I had planned to go back to the cabin after breakfast and veg out. However, I let myself be carried by the current and went on the shore excursion.

After yesterday's trip through the Gorges, we are now docked at the city of Wanxian, one of the places the government built to house relocated (read "flooded out") farmers from the Yangtze basin. It turns out that Fred spends his evenings searching out sights for us to see: last night he scouted a street with two 150-year-old houses.

This city is built on a tall hill, so we reached street level by going up in this odd contraption:
If I had to name it I'd call it a reciprocal gravity elevator - one car must come down for the other one to rise.

Edited to add: I found out what it is! It's called a "Funicular"!

We then trekked up a steep alley lined with market stalls
and turned into an even narrower side alley:
on which our houses are situated.
Both houses were originally built as single-family homes (albeit probably large families), but now hold four households. There are touches of faded grandeur:
The houses are both built around courtyards
with open roofs
and some of the wiring had Dad, the electrical engineer, a little concerned
but there was a lively air to the place too. While looking around, I unaccountably missed the dog: just saw his hindquarters disappearing to the right
around the edge of the balcony. Seemed to be another Pomeranian mix.

We returned to the market alley to look around. I tried to take a picture of an old man with baskets of chickens in his shoulder carriers. He wouldn't let me photograph him, but he put down the chickens so I could get them!
We passed a woman selling oil cakes
adorable children like this one
and more chickens.
I couldn't believe the way the market stalls were crammed onto various narrow steps as the alley climbed - I love it!
I think if I lived here I'd be thin as a rail (and my rear would be well toned) just from running the daily errands. In fact, Fred says that the ladies of the region are noted for being especially beautiful because they go up and down so many stairs.

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