I had forgotten just how small and “out there” Luzhou is compared to Chengdu.
My bus ride uptown today on the 201 hugged the river, then entered the city to wind through narrow streets lined with trees. To the right and left, hundreds of little family-run shops overtook the broken sidewalks. The bus passed by tiny one-room furniture stores and tool shops, their cement fronts hiding the wooden structures underneath. Many of these structures have been here for 100 years, repaired so many times that it’s hard to tell their original appearances. Only their ancient Chinese tiled roofs betrayed their age.
Alleyways snaked upwards toward the city center or downwards toward the river.
Luzhou is a very hilly place, unlike Chengdu. You’ll rarely see a bicycle anywhere on these streets, which is a strange sight coming from China. Too much huffing and puffing to pedal your way through this terrain.
What you will see in such rural cities as this one are “pull workers.” Pull workers are those who haul furniture, store items, blocks of coal, lumber, construction supplies or anything else one needs moving from one part of the city to another. They pull their heavy loads on a cart composed of a wide, long wooden plank balanced on two wheels.
You can find most of the pull workers at the sports’ stadium where they are lined up, one after the other, waiting for business. The outside stadium stalls house a number of cheap furniture shops. A majority buying furniture will hire these leathery-skinned, thin and muscular men to drag their new buys back to their apartment buildings.
They do a fairly good business around the stadium, which is located in old Luzhou. They’re a lot cheaper than hiring a truck although it might be awhile before your things arrive. Pull workers can cost as little as 50 cents for a few blocks to $5.00 for a longer, tedious ones.
Like I said, Luzhou is a very hilly place with steep inclines and weaving roads. It’s not an easy task to lug wardrobes, beds, mattresses and cabinets around this city. It pains me watching these men strain, struggle and sweat with their loads while slowly making their way up our Luzhou streets.
Luzhou’s business district is still fairly vacant of giant department stores with spiffy entrances and sparkling floors. We have some but they are far from the beautiful, modern ones in the capital city. I did notice, however, that Luzhou is trying to step things up a bit. There are two very large buildings being erected, making our pretty downtown a muddy mess in some places.
From the looming scaffolding and central location, I’m guessing these will be department stores, not the hundreds of apartment complexes enlarging the city at every turn. This new shopping center covers an entire block and happens to be right next to the church. I’m guessing when it’s completed, it will be the crowning glory of an up-and-coming city which is trying to look more like modern China and less like a backwards river town.
Personally, I like the backwards river town image.
The best part of Luzhou is, of course, the waterfront. We have a lovely area alongside the Yangtze River called Binshan Road. Binshan Road is blanketed by a canopy of trees lining the wide walkway. Lots of little sitting places surrounded by landscaping allow strollers a pleasant view of the river. There’s also the many tea houses along the road as well.
My camera’s rechargeable batteries went dead on me today when I was walking along Bing Shan Road. I promise pictures of this area of Luzhou another time. No visit would be complete without it.
Stay tuned for other Luzhou entries soon. Classes have had me pretty busy this week but I’ll try not to slow down too much on the blogs.
From Luzhou, here’s wishing you “Ping An” (Peace) for your day