“I once walked into a housing estate and saw fountain statues of little boys peeing.”
A friend of mine once said this to me over dinner. She said she was new to Changzhou at the time, and like me, liked to aimlessly wander as a way to learn about a new city.
“Where is this?”
“Sorry, I forgot.”
“You know,” I said, “I am now going to obsessively look for that housing estate, now.”
She flashed an evil grin. “That’s why I told you about it.”
And, I went looking. I walked onto many housing estates over the course of a week, and I almost never found the weirdness my lady friend described. Eventually, I discovered something close, but it was not the urinating fountains my friend spoke of. It was a small statue of a naked little boy. This was on a housing estate on Zhongwu Avenue 中吴大道 near the bridge to Wujin / Hutang. As soon as I saw it, I started laughing, hard. It was not the first time I had seen this little boy.
Actually, it was a replica of an infamous fountain in Brussels, Belgium. It looks forged in bronze, and it depicts a little boy urinating into a small pool of water. The statue’s name is Mannekin Pis, and it’s a famous landmark, and souvenir shops make a fortune selling related merchandise to bewildered tourists with WTF on their minds. It’s even to the point where the statue has a dedicated blog.
The fact that there is a replica in Changzhou doesn’t surprise me. There are lots of new construction that actively tries to imitate European architecture and atmosphere. This housing estate, and the mostly empty shopping center next to it, has a decidedly Euro theme. As a reference point, there used to be a Tesco on Zhongwu. It’s that area. At Global Harbour in Xinbei, for example, there is a whole atrium with European style faux paintings. This is at the uppermost level, on the interior of a dome ceiling. As for the housing estate my friend stumbled onto, I largely suspect what she saw there were also Manekin Pis replicas.