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My Adventures at Gongyuanqian

February 15, 2012

Gongyuanqian is one of the most congested and busiest metro stations in Guangzhou connected with an underground shopping mall. Above ground there is a major development project which is seemingly frozen in time. People living in semi-demolished homes. Nothing going up or down, just a half finished demolition surrounded by high rises. The village is Shaomazhan, in the intersection of Beijing Street and Zhongshanwu Street. The photo I took is from a shopping mall across the street.

Some houses have holes knocked in the walls are filled with cardboard and plywood. The few people I spoke with shrugged their shoulders when I asked questions. 2012 will be remembered for semi-demolished villages. With a 40% drop in housing in 2011 developers are going bankrupt waiting for rich people who aren’t coming. Business insider and CNN have headlined as China’s housing bubble.  Half of shaomazhan village is destroyed while the other is not. A few houses away elderly couples playing mahjong. On the other side of the wall people are shopping.

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My purpose of the visit was to locate the original Chenliji Medicine Factory.  Earlier in the day I visited the Chenliji museum and wanted to see the original building site. The buildings have had numerous facelifts, but the street plan dates back to the Ming Dynasty. The style of the building in its place was intended to be a replica, only it’s hard to tell because it’s not a giant KFC.

A crowd of police were standing around a group of people sitting on benches holding up signs and wearing white t-shirts claiming that they were being cheated in a land dispute. The village they claimed to be from was Tao Mei. I had never heard of the village, I asked if it was near Guangzhou. It was further north in Chaozhou. I then asked if it was OK for me to take a picture of their T-Shirt, a young man agreed and as I raised the camera a cop waved his hand in front of the camera nearly blocking the photo. This is the white glove waving at the bottom of the photo. The T-Shirt reads “Tao Mei Villager.”

I asked what the problem was the police didn’t respond in words but asked me to leave with a waving motion of the hand. Like swatting a fly. As I turned to leave the woman reached in her bag and gave me several pieces of paper. I took them and walked away. Several officers were fallowing me. I turned and asked if the paper I was holding was important? I told the officer: she gave me a flier, is that illegal? (Ta gei wo chuen dan, shi fei fa de?) Again no verbal response. I handed a cop the papers and they went away. Now I was really curious.

I continued walking,  moments moments later a girl ran to catch up with me. She looked about eleven years old, whe handed me four hand typed sheets of paper. Then an elderly villager handed me two color photos printed from a web site. They papers indicated that in Meitao displacing villagers to build an illegal mine. Weather or not that was true, the Meitao villagers were not favored by Guangzhou police.

On the way back to the subway I saw a cop take a juicer from a juice vendor. I was able to make a video of the vendor asking for his juicer back and the officer leaving away in a van. The vendor was stuck pushing a wagon of oranges. I caught the end of the argument on video.

video: juice vendor and police

The heavy police presence reminded me about everything I started disliking New York. The police presence is really for the large number of scam artists.The area does have some fascinating characters. Many mutilated beggars with accents from all rural parts of the country perform begging routines and count their money with stubby arms. One guy balances a bicycle on his head with a large stick of bamboo. Amazing time to live where I live.

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