Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Mengzi and Gejiu

After just one whole day in Kunming we headed south to Mengzi and Gejiu. These cities are located on the French-built railroad headed south to Vietnam with Mengzi being a former Treaty Port. Our hope is to find the old train stations and other artifacts of the 60 years or so of foreign presence.

We based ourseleves in Mengzi, located on a wide plain and newly declared the prefecture capital with better choices for lodging and transportation. The so-called New Town of Mengzi has the new prefecture government complex, tall bank buildings, and wide streets; whereas the Old Town has the remnants of the colonial times, the old Chinese Quarter, and everything else built since 1949.

We spent one day in Mengzi finding old buildings with good success rate (see photos below) and then headed out in the late afternoon, passing the old brewery, to the nearby "ancient" city of  Xin'an Suo, reached by riding city bus #4 to the end of the line. Xin'an Suo  must have been very properous at one time judging by the number of old houses and the grandeur of their now crumbling doorways.

The next day we rode the bus up and through the new Xi Du tunnel to Gejiu, the previous prefecture capital and located in a narrow valley. A bonus, in addition to the old buildings was the chance to hike up the 2689 steps to the top of Lao Yin Shan with its new temples, pagoda, and a great view down to town. Back in the city, we also managed to find an old tin factory that is under renovation. The caretaker gave us a tour. Wow! What a cool place.

Obvious to us, Mengzi is on the rise while Gejiu has seen better times. We hope the new tunnel between them may allow both to prosper.

ICBC bank building in the Mengzi New Town.

A few buildings remain of the Mengzi train station.
Mengzi, China

Chairman Mao looks down from the facade of an old warehouse - Mengzi.
Mengzi, China

Sun-Ling walks down an alley in the old Chinese Quarter of Mengzi.
Mengzi, China

Merchants House - Mengzi
Mengzi, China

Doorway - Xin'an Suo ancient town.
Mengzi, China

View to Gejiu from top of Lao Yin Shan. We did NOT ride the blue cable cars which can be seen in the trees.
Gejiu, China - pano_792_viewpoint_crop_fixed

Nice Reclining Buddha in one of the temples on top of Lao Yin Shan.
Gejiu, China pano_reclining_buddha_crop_fixed

The front of Gejiu Station. The red banner obscures the station name.
Gejiu, China - P1290997_z

The old tin factory.
Gejiu, China

The caretaker standing next to a flattening stone which would have been turned by cows.
Gejiu, China


Crash Eddy said...

Wow! A geography and history lesson rolled into one. The term Treaty Port appears to have nothing to do being on the ocean which Mengzi obviously is not.

Xi Du tunnel and moving prefecture government from one town to another may be the sort of infrastructure projects we need here in the USA to put people to work. Or would you speculate these were done by essentially slave labor?

Google Maps sat photo of Lao Yin Shan is obscured by a cloud. I can't discern cable car anchorages.

john said...

Ed, I find Chinese Treaty Ports fascinating. Lots of East meets West stuff.

Pretty sure that the tunnel and prefecture moving/construction was NOT essentially slave labor.

I haven't had time to look a Gejiu in GM. If/when I do I'll post something.

Kathy said...

"We did NOT ride the blue cable cars."

I rode the cable car up, but found the experience so frightening I walked back down.

john said...

Right! The cable cars go almost straight up and the day we walked up, the wind near the top could blow a tightly cinched hat off ones head. Not a day to ride the blue cars.