My Sunday, May 30th 2010
I decided to take a local bus to see what there was to see at its terminus. Also, I wanted to get out and explore the river over which the route crossed. If I had time I planned to visit an open air veggie market I’d seen beside a canal in the city area. I never did go to that market.
The first photo is of a map of Xingtai on which I have drawn my route from near the top left hand corner to the bottom right hand corner; or from north west to south east and return via an interlude in the middle. You might need to view it in full screen to see it properly
My bus trip to the city centre was uneventful and especially pleasant as the bus was practically empty. A far cry from the one I returned on where it became so full that it progressed from normal front entry to back entry to eventually refusal of entry. I just made it on.
The first 4 photos were taken as I walked from one bus stop to another. One is inside a department store which I visited for a quick sticky beak. It looks like the best one in the city. The woman on the escalator is wearing a visor which many motorbike/electric bike riders wear in the summer. The building standing amidst rubble is one of several remaining after the wreckers have been through a block. The trees in the back of the photo are those shading a market I later visited.
The number 29 bus trundled through large streets and then turned down a narrow street faced with buildings and farm plots. (Photos) It then crossed a major road still under construction (photo) and continued along narrow roads through mixed rural and village scenarios. (Photos) Many buildings have 2 sheets of red paper containing rhyming poems, known as couplets, pasted on each side of the entry. These are renewed at New Year. They used to be hand written in the olden days. The ones on the flats downstairs have the name of a bank on them. The wheat fields don’t look very tall but the mechanical harvesters (photo) are out on the roads. I’ve read these are contracted out. Last June, while waiting for an early morning bus at the start of my holiday, I saw a parade of harvesters drive down the road. One even had a passenger sleeping on the floor.
The bus reached a point just before an entry to a toll way. The driver turned around and let the 2nd last person off. Given it was the back end of nowhere I was staying put. One young woman got on and the driver made moves to continue meanwhile turning to me and grumbling. I considered that my cue to produce another 1 Yuan note and put it in the collection slot at which point he stopped grumbling and continued the journey.
A bee keeper had set up his tent and hives amidst a grove of trees. (photo) A shepherd followed her flock (photo) and we passed what must be the glass bottle capital of the world. (photo) All arranged by size and colour. A man wearing his shirt at the customary half mast position shoveled sand into a mixer (Photo) and another drove a tractor pulling bricks through a village street. When he passed me I noticed only one of his lenses was present. There was no need to get out for the river because there was no river to be seen. No bridge, just a built up area for traffic. The river bed was full of rubble and farm plots. (Photo)
The young guy in the seat in front of me was busy telling someone on his phone about the laoshi on the number 29 bus. He got off after me still talking and we both headed to the same place. I’m not convinced he didn’t have plans to strike up a conversation, but I did loiter a lot and he was shy. I was happy to be left to my own devices.
I investigated Fuqian St opposite the bus stop. It is the original old world street in the city. (Photos) It’s looked rather tacky with quite a bit of neon and numerous modern advertisements and didn’t have the fresh appearance of the renovated and newly minted Ancient Culture streets of some other cities. However, its time has come and it was in the throes of renovation and major paint works. Amazing what removing the grime and applying fresh paint and the presence of blue sky can do. (Photos) Mature trees had been planted and seating was under construction. (Photo) Not sure how they expected the stone to stay on the bricks with almost dry concrete, but that’s how it was being done. (Photos) The imposing building at the end of the street is called Qingfeng Building. (Photo) I didn’t go that far this time. Last time it had many elderly chatterers around it. Now it has rubble & the workmen’s tent.
One of the local shopkeepers was outside using a brush and water to write in on the concrete step. He gave me a wave. (Photo) He doesn’t look like an ordinary Chinese, maybe because he is an “arty type.” My vast exposure to Chinese culture has indicated that the ones involved in the arts have a more distinctive style to their appearance. He sells paper, ink, some small antiques/bric a brac, embroideries and art works. (photo) Fortune tellers and sellers of funerary offerings also inhabit the area. (Photos) Some of the fortune tellers wanted to talk with me but we didn’t get far, but I did get to sit down for a while. There is a temple behind the street too and it had scaffolding around parts of it. I didn’t return there.