Sunday, April 15, 2012

Songji Ancient Town

Spring continues here in YC and we spent the weekend exploring a few things that we had heard about here and there. First of all, I've been experimenting with making some less garish HDR pictures. I'd been wanting to get a photo that looked like what my eyes see from our apartment window in the evening light... but somehow it always just came out looking like a grubby bunch of concrete buildings. Finally, with the help of some clear sky and HDR processing the full beauty (?) of suburban Yongchuan as seen in my brain can be revealed:

It looks like this in my brain, if not in reality
On Friday we learned that the circus had quite literally come to town. Entertainment is pretty scarce around here, so we went to check it out. Sadly my fears of doped-up ferocious animals being interfered with for our viewing pleasure were founded and China really is the land that animal rights forgot. On the positive side, the acrobats performed some death-defying (literally) feats high above the concrete floor on bamboo poles and swinging metal contraptions. The only animal act that I didn't feel so bad about was the small-monkey-doing-a-handstand-on-an-elderly-goat-balancing-on-a-podium trick. That's a new one to me.

That's entertainment.
I'd read about Songji town on someone's blog (see, they can be useful) and we finally got around to visiting on Sunday. A couple of hours country-road bike riding got us there and we found what we were looking for without too much trouble. Since the original blogger's visit in 2009 things have moved on a bit and there were quite a few signs (in English!) to tell us what we were looking at.

A Songji tractor. Different to a Chelsea tractor.
Water street
More HDR fun with some roof tiles
Whilst getting on with the usual struggle of ordering some food in a street restaurant, we heard the welcome words "Can I help you?". This is how we met "Tremor", a young college instructor from Yongchuan who was keen to practice his English with us. In a deal that I still don't understand, he paid for our lunch in return for him helping us order it. We chatted for a while and walked together with his students down to the town beach (of sorts) on the Yangtze. Whilst the Mother River isn't the cleanest, people were enjoying paddling in the fast flowing shallows, flying kites, and watching the ships race by in the current. The sun had come out and we enjoyed a very springlike ride back to Yonchuan, through the sprouting rice fields.

Beach boy
Spring sprouting