Liuzhou Laowai

Random thoughts on life in Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

Liuzhou Bridges 5 – Hongguang Bridge

bridges

Hongguang Bridge (红光大桥) lies upstream from Liujiang Bridge, halfway to the railway bridge.

hongguang map

Work started on the bridge at the end of September 2002 and it opened to traffic on August 8th, 2004. It is just over 1 kilometre long (1040m).

This is one bridge that really made a noticeable difference; prior to its opening, getting to the railway station from the city centre was a headache. You had to go over Liujiang Bridge, then traverse the full length of either Fei’e Road (飞鹅路), or go through Fei’e Road No. 2, which seemed to be permanently jammed even back in the days when there were a hell of a lot fewer private cars.

The eastern approach to the bridge is via Liantang Road (连塘路) which runs from the south-west corner of the People’s Square and on the western side it drops down to Fei’e Road, nearer the station.

Hongguang Bridge

Hongguang Bridge

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Hongguang Bridge looking west.

I tend to walk under this bridge more than I cross it. One of my favourite walks in Liuzhou goes under the eastern end of the bridge, passing through Binjiang Road (滨江路, literally River Bank Road) for a bit. Note the map above incorrectly gives the Pinyin as Bingjiang Road, one of many mistakes on the map – Liujiang Bridge is rendered as Liujianh, for example. Chinese people aren’t very good at Pinyin.

Hongguang Bridge as seen from Binjiang (Riverside) Road

Hongguang Bridge as seen from Binjiang (Riverside) Road

A few more.

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For an amusing aside on the name, see this old blog. Well, it amused me.

It’s a Dog’s Life

I’m not a great animal lover. Unless they are on my plate for dinner. But this pisses me off.

This guy has been around for years, although I hadn’t seen him much of late. But he has reappeared. Twice this week I have seen him. Once sitting on the wall outside the traditional medicine hospital and another time on the pedestrian street.

He walks along with this little dog following him, pulling this insanity wagon. The man has yoked the mutt to the carriage with a home-made harness. The wagon plays some bizarre music and is full of nonsense.

It is clearly too heavy for the dog which was limping and panting for breath in the heat. He used to have two dogs; they other has presumably died. No surprise.

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Unfortunately, the locals seemed to find it all very cute.

 

Beware of Beards 2

Last month, I posted about some posters which appeared in Liuzhou showing, in cartoon form, dangerous men with beards.

Here are more in the series.

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Liuzhou Bridges 4 – Guangya Bridge

bridges

Virtually opposite Wenchang Bridge, across the “peninsula” lies one of Liuzhou’s newest bridges, Guangya Bridge (广雅大桥).

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The bridge runs from Guangya Road (广雅路) on the eastern side to the western side at Hexi Road (河西路) on which lies the important Wuling car factory. The combination of Wenchang and Guangya bridges gives easy access from the residential east of the city to the industrial west.

The bridge opened December 30th, 2013 with the usual pomp and circumstance of an opening ceremony. (In China they can’t open a bar of chocolate without an opening ceremony.)

Opening Ceremony, December 2013

Opening Ceremony, December 2013

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Opening Ceremony, December 2013

The bridge is busy early in the mornings and again in the evening, but during working hours is almost deserted The photograph below was taken at 11:30 yesterday morning.

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There was a bit of a commotion when these boards of nails were attached to the bridge on a stupid attempt to stop would-be suicides. More on that here.

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Some more photographs

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Five Star Pomposity

It is fairly common to see staff of the more genuine hair dressing salons and of restaurants lining up on the street outside their work premises for a pep talk before opening for the day. You even see them doing silly so-called exercises. But for a totally over-the top experience you have got to get to Liuzhou’s WuXing (Five Star) Department store (柳州五星商业大厦) on a Monday morning between 9 and 9:30.

The large state-owned store has its staff line up outside the building for a grand flag raising ceremony.

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A couple of revolutionary type songs are sung, someone makes the usual speech then the flags go up. First the Chinese flag, of course. This is accompanied by the national anthem, of course. Then two company flags (i.e. advertisements) are solemnly and slowly raised to more music while all the staff stand to attention. Well, nearly all. One member of staff is clearly more cynical and expresses it most eloquently.

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When that’s over a pseudo-military group of women led by men (of course) marches off into the sunset. Well, to the end of the building, where they all change from their fancy dress and go off to sell stuff.

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It is hilarious to watch the pomposity. It’s just a shop! And not a very good one.

Liuzhou Bridges 3 – Wenchang Bridge

bridges

Ten years ago, Liuzhou’s then top hotel, the government owned Liuzhou Hotel (柳州饭店) lay at the end of a cul-de-sac. This made it a very quiet, peaceful sort of place where the country’s leaders could have a good time when they were required to visit Liuzhou. Pretty much all the top guys have stayed there except Mao and, so far as I know, current leader, Xi Jinping. It is also where, in July 1954, North Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh, met with Chinese Premier, Zhou Enlai to discuss tactics in the fight for independence from France. More here.

That all changed and now the hotel is on one of the city’s busiest roads. What happened?

Very simple. Liuzhou Government moved its headquarters from San Zhong Road to a new building immediately across the river from the hotel, dragging the People’s Hospital and Liuzhou High School with them. But they needed access to the city centre (and more particularly, the train station, which they found couldn’t realistically be moved for their convenience), so they built a bridge. The middle classes followed them into their ghettoes in the east, creating more and more traffic problems as they all needed a car each – and the bigger the better.

bridgesignAll through the planning stages and the building, the bridge was to be called 友谊大桥, or Friendship Bridge – the name coming from the street on which the hotel is situated.

Maps were printed showing this name and road signs erected.

To everyone’s surprise, when the bridge opened on September 16th, 2005, the name had been changed to 文昌大桥, after the road on the other side.

To this day you can see road signs have been modified at the last minute by sticking not quite matching plastic over the planned name.

After Wenhui Bridge, the river winds north for a while, so this bridge runs west-east rather than north-south like the first two in this series.

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The bridge starts at Liuzhou Hotel and ends right beside the the new government HQ, near the Radisson Hotel. Or vice versa.

Liuzhou Hotel

Liuzhou Hotel

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Liuzhou Government HQ – Liuzhou Lubyanka

The bridge doesn’t see much pedestrian traffic, but should you decide to cross it on foot, look out for the plaques on the sidewalks depicting and explaining some of Liuzhou’s sights, not all of which can be seen from the bridge.

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Wenchang Bridge

Wenchang Bridge looking west.

Wenchang Bridge looking west.

Wenchang Bridge looking east

Wenchang Bridge looking east

"Youyi Bridge" under construction

“Youyi Bridge” under construction

Friday Food 134 – Laba Beans

Friday Food is an occasional article about one of the more unusual food items to be found in Liuzhou that week. This week my new addiction.

laba beans jar

What you are looking at is a jar of beans. Soy beans. And the contents of that jar constitute one of the most addictive things I”ve ever put in my mouth.

Hunan Laba beans. 腊八豆. If you can’t find them in Liuzhou, it’s because I’ve bought up all stocks before telling you about them.

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Laba Beans

Laba is a traditional Chinese festival, the origin of which is lost (although there are many theories). The festival is celebrated on the 8th day () of the 12th lunar month () and it is customary to celebrate by eating 腊八粥, a rice porridge.

That porridge dish bears no resemblance to what I have in my jar, so I have no idea if there is a real connection.

These are just soy beans with Hunan cured pork. Ingredients as listed are soy beans, vegetable oil, Hunan style cured pork, salt, ginger, rice wine, chili pepper, sugar and unidentified spicing.

Pork and beans. What more do you need?.

Hunan Cured Pork - 湖南腊肉

Hunan Cured Pork – 湖南腊肉

The jar suggests they can be added to stir fries, served with noodles (good idea) or fried rice (ditto) etc. But I have a better suggestion. If you are right-handed, take the jar in your left, grab a spoon in your right and shovel the beans and pork straight into the hole in the lower front of your face. If you are left-handed, go home; China doesn’t do left-handedness. See here.

¥12.90 for a 280g jar.

Liuzhou Bridges 2 – Wenhui Bridge

bridges

Wenhui Bridge (文惠桥) is Liuzhou’s most iconic bridge. Its red arches and the view of Panlong Hill (蟠龙山) with its two pagodas in the background just say “Liuzhou”, especially in the evenings when the lights on the bridge and on the pagodas are lit.

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Wenhui Bridge and Jiahe Hill- July 2013

But it’s actually two bridges. The original bridge opened to traffic in 1994 and is 587 m long in total. The river span is 483 m. It runs between Dong Men, the old East Gate (东门) on the northern side and the junction of Jiahe Road (驾鹤路) and Rongjun Road (荣军路) on the southern side at Jiahe Hill (驾鹤山).

The original 1994 bridge is the western half. Soon after it was built, it became apparent that its capacity was insufficient for the growing needs of Liuzhou’s traffic, and for a while the bridge was one way (south to north) only.

Obviously, the bridge couldn’t be widened. So, after years of discussion, it was finally decided to build an identical bridge right next to the first.

Original Bridge as seen from Dong Men

Shops, restaurants (including my then favourite pizza place) and homes were demolished to make space It was said that the “sister” bridge would open in 2010, but after various delays, it finally opened in August 2013. The budgeted cost was 183 million yuan but, although no final information was ever released, the various delays must have pushed that up.

and then there were two

Now the old bridge carries traffic from north to south, while the new part goes in the opposite direction.

Wenhui Bridge looking north

Wenhui Bridge looking north

Wenhui Bridge looking south

Wenhui Bridge looking south

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Wenhui Bridge – Night

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Wenhui Bridge Reflection

Between Wenhui Bridge and Liujiang Bridge, on the south bank, is Jiangbin Park (江滨公园), a pleasant place for a stroll. There is also a river walk pathway on the north bank.

 

 

Liuzhou Bridges 1 – Liujiang Bridge

bridges

For Jo.

Liuzhou is proud of its bridges over the river. They are particularly proud that there are so many. This apparently glorifies the city in some way. Some of them are interesting, so I will be doing an occasional series of posts about some of the more interesting.

Liujiang Bridge

Liujiang Bridge

Liujiang Bridge (柳江大桥), popularly known as “No. 1 bridge” (although this is a misnomer, as we shall see) was built at the height of the cultural revolution. Work began in March 1966 and the bridge opened to traffic on Boxing Day 1968.

608 metres long, the bridge straddles the river Liu (NOT Liujiang river please! Jiang means river) in the city centre, between Longcheng Road in the north and Yufeng district in the south. It is just left of centre in the first picture.

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Liujiang Bridge – Looking North

Liujiang Bridge - Looking South

Liujiang Bridge – Looking South

The bridge conveniently provides a visual measure of the water level in the river at this crucial point which is prone to severe flooding. I have seen the entire road surface of the bridge under water.

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Liujiang Bridge was the first road bridge in the city, but the first real bridge was the railway bridge further to the west. It opened in 1950.

Liuzhou Daily

Liuzhou Daily

The beginnings of the bridge can be seen on the top left of this picture from 1948. Click on the picture to enlarge.

Liuzhou 1948

Liuzhou 1948

You may be thinking you can spot another bridge just to the right of centre in the photograph. This is actually the first bridge, but isn’t a real bridge at all. It’s a load of boats tied together.

Boat Bridge - Liuzhou

Boat Bridge – Liuzhou

and a closer look

Boat Bridge - Liuzhou

Boat Bridge – Liuzhou

This boat bridge was originally built in 1944 to help Liuzhou citizens flee to the south to escape the Japanese army which had taken Guilin and was marching towards Liuzhou. For more pictures from the evacuation and occupation of Liuzhou, see here.

After the boat bridge was dismantled, a ferry service existed at the same crossing point. It remained in operation until around 2001. I used it a couple of times. It was quicker and more reliable than their new river bus!

Wet News

It has been an odd week in Liuzhou news. Here are a few of the highlights. In fact, only two are wet.

1. An 80+ year old man wet his pants while waiting for service in a Liuzhou bank. Yes, this made the local newspapers and prompted the editor into sending an unpaid slave intern to see if any banks had lavatorial facilities for customers. None had. Customers cannot use staff facilities for security reasons. Do banks anywhere usually have public toilets?

2. A middle aged woman decided on Friday to end it all and following usual Liuzhou practice jumped off Liujiang bridge into the river. Unfortunately for the woman, said to be in her 40s, a passing river bus rescued her against her will and she was finally dragged off to hospital, somewhat wet.

Rescued

Rescued

3. A Liuzhou woman has gone to court to claim compensation for her lack of a sex life. Her husband is unable to perform after being hit by a van while riding his e-bike and badly injured. Liuzhou Yufeng District People’s Court accepted the the case, reportedly the first time such a case has been allowed. Her husband’s claim for disability compensation was successful and the court awarded him 480,000元, to be paid by the van driver, his employers and their insurance company. His wife was awarded 70,000 for her loss of marital pleasures.

4. There have been complaints that many of the city’s green rental bikes are being vandalised. 17 were vandalised in just two days. Mainly, a case of  tires being deliberately slashed.


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