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Out of my window I can not only see 江尖公园, but also the last remnants of the dilapidated houses which must’ve filled the area until not so long ago. Out of curiosity I thought I’d go and have a look at these last surviving pockets and also have a look at the development on the island.
The first picture looks across the canal to the south-east and apart from one building missing half a roof, the place doesn’t appear to be in any danger of being demolished – for the time being. In the second picture, the rubble in the foreground is new. When I had a look at one of the earlier pictures I took, I found that the building was still there. It wouldn’t surprise me if someone was actually living in the last surviving hovel. There was some guy snoozing on a sofa nearby and when I went to have a closer look from the other side, some dog barked at me in a proprietorial fashion.
This, on the other hand, is nouveau 古老, but doing it’s best to look as dilapidated and worth for demolition as any of the aging and decrepit parts of the town. When I went in, there were two people having a quiet snog near the door and, unexpectedly, flute music. On the left-hand side of the second picture was an area which looked like it might’ve been a stage. Some guy was there practising playing the flute, his music being quite suitable to the setting, I thought. The building on the right has some historical significance because there were a couple of stones on the other side, one of which gave the details about the place.
If I understand the sign on the left correctly, the building is the former site of some (state-owned?) paper company. It also gives a date of 2003, although the area doesn’t look neglected enough to have been abandoned six years ago. The other sign no doubt explains the significance of the place.
On the other side is this small branch of the canal which was mostly the preserve of this purple water flower, probably a species of water lily. At the far end is a lock which probably hasn’t been used in some time. The fishermen might also actually catch something because in the water near the lock, I could see bubbles in the water and a shoal of little fishes. There was also something larger there because I heard a loud splash and looked down to see that something had violently agitated the water, although I don’t know what. The fishes themselves seem to be clustered beneath some drain perhaps waiting, as Dryden said in MacFlecknoe, for the morning toast.
[22.08.13. Much has changed since I took these pictures. The ancient street was eventually opened, but that took some time (and I ought to go back to see what’s there); the old houses were eventually demolished, but that also took some time; they’ve been being replaced by a cluster of high-rise buildings, but that’s also taken some time. Five years after I arrived in Wuxi, the project, called 县前三号, still has a long way to go.
23.09.14. Another year has passed and, as it turns out, the ancient street on the island is almost entirely deserted apart from a couple of restaurants. The high-rise buildings have risen, but as far as I can tell, they’ve stopped rising and, it seems, no work is being done behind the green gauze in which they’re wrapped like concrete mummies. The hoardings alongside 县前街 were removed a few months ago as if the project was about to enter some new phase, but I think that may be no more than prolonged decay.]
My attempt to track down bike shops in Wuxi by searching via Baidu yielded very little. I managed to find shops for Merida (bikes for bicycle couriers and other wide boys) and Giant, but nothing else. I went back to the Giant bike shop on 人民西路 where they have one model that I might consider, yet it still has fat tyres. Not as fat as the tyres of a mountain bike, but fat enough and not what I want. It seems that Giant don’t make normal bikes, as I discovered when I went to the website. A search for something general such as 自行车专卖店 produced nothing useful.
When I was going to Ajisen last night, I saw a woman with a fairly new Emmelle bike (not the first I’ve seen since I got here), but searching for Emmelle yields nothing. Also, I’m not sure what the Chinese for Emmelle is, which meant that I had to search for the name in English.
However, I thought I’d go to Metro today, partly to see whether they have any bookcases like the one I already have and partly to see whether they have a more promising selection of bikes than, say, Carrefour did. I also have one other option, which is to post a question about bike shops on wuxilife.com. Sad to say, though, the word “bike” obviously generates images of electric bikes in the minds of foreigners. I might consider one the day I can’t out-accelerate one.
[23.08.14. The Giant bike service centre in Wuxi has now migrated to 东瑞路 (Dōng Ruì Lù), and is not far from the intersection with 西沪西路, although it can be easy to overshoot, and is on the wrong side of the road if you’re coming from town. There may be another Giant shop on 学前路 towards Nanchan, but it’s been awhile since I’ve been down that way.]