Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Feng Jing

Feng Jing is one of the many "ancient water villages" that surrounds Shanghai. It is not one of the more famous ones, which is nice because it means it is not crowded with tourists.

There are several things worth seeing in Feng Jing. The cartoons on the walls of one of the old houses are very amusing, and worth browsing through. Outside of that same house, there is a "4 century old tree" that is really creates some fantastic views, especially in early winter (or late autumn, I would imagine). The leaves that sit at the base of the tree right now are a bright yellow, and create a perfect atmosphere for the old village.

Also of interest in Feng Jing are the remnants of a panic-driven era several decades ago. There is a large underground bomb shelter, big enough to hold hundreds of people if needed. According to the signs posted there, only about 10% of the place is presently open to viewing. I cannot imagine the extent of the shelter, as the portion I saw was already quite overwhelming. It made me think of the bomb shelters that many families in the US built in their back yards during the 1950s. It's rather telling, isn't it? In the US, each shelter was built to house a single family. In Feng Jing, the place is big enough to house the entire village for a prolonged period.

Other signs of a more paranoid, ultra-patriotic time still survive in Feng Jing too. There are countless Mao buttons hanging in one museum, many propaganda posters that are very dated, ration coupons for various items, and even a small fighter plane that the village helped purchase. The sign beside the plane reports that it was responsible for shooting down 3 planes of the "US agressors" during the Cold War days.

Feng Jing is a place worth spending a day. It is pleasant for walking about, and it certainly gives you a feel for a China of days now past.


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