The Brand New Sanjiangkou Park

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As it has been often said, a forthcoming subway system usually changes many things within a city. One of the more fundamental things is urban planning. That became evident in Xinbei, recently. The construction barricades came down from around Sanjiangkou Park 三江口公园. I decided to go out and take a stroll to see what was there.

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At first glance, it’s a typical ecological park. It’s across the street from the Changzhou Foreign Languages School / Trina International complex. There’s a BRT stop between the two, but there is also a subway station being put in here. That subway station is referenced in the directional signage.

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Besides the more typical things you might find in a public park, a few things stood out to me. Yes, I am a 45 year-old man with a beer gut, but part of me will always have a teenage skateboarder hardwired into my brain. Once a spot hunter, always a spot hunter. For example, the above photo. It looks like a totally skate-able series of flat banks. There are also plenty of stone benches around, too. In short, this park has a few potential skating spots. However, if I’m being practical, I also saw a security guy zipping around on an eBike. So, skating the above may not be quite feasible. And then, I got a real shock.

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I actually ran into an concrete mini-ramp. Behind that, there’s a flat bank with a rail. This is next to basketball and tennis courts. An astroturf soccer pitch is also close by. Obviously, a security guy won’t be yelling at you if you’re here. So, yeah, while I really don’t ride a skateboard anymore, I got totally enthused about this. And then, Changzhou decided to repeat a bit of skateboarding history, again.

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The mini-half has some unsafe spots. This is exactly the same problem that popped up with the park that was put in the basement of Laimeng downtown like a year ago. The metal ramps over in Qingfeng all got rusty before that was shut down. There is one hopeful thing, however.

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While the construction barricades came down, there is still a significant portion of Sanjiangkou that is still under construction. So, it’s a possibility that the damaged concrete will be found and fixed. The above photo is also a reminder that what ever is to be here has not fully come into existence, yet.

So, for me at least, it’s going to be interesting to return in a few months and see what Sanjiangkou actually becomes. Who knows? Maybe the damaged ramp will be fixed? Maybe I’ll dust off my board and ride it? Probably not. I’m not the guy I was in my twenties, and I think I’m too afraid of falling down and getting a boo-boo.

Old Qingguo Postcards

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From time to time, I sometimes buy philatelic products — especially if they have a greater Jiangsu or regional Jiangnan theme. This isn’t so much for myself but for my father. He’s a lifelong stamp collector, and his interest in Chinese stamps mostly comes from me giving them to him since I live here.

So, recently, I happened on a collection of Qingguo Lane themed postcards. These actually already have the postage printed on them. In terms of stamp collecting, this is something that father would term “postal stationary,” which is a smaller niche within stamp collecting.Yes, there is something infinitely more nerdy than stamps: the people who collect pre-postage marked envelopes and post cards. But who am I to judge? I collect Magic: The Gathering cards. The nerd gene is strong in my family!

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While the English name of the set seems to be Elegant Rhyme of Qingguoxiang, these cards really have nothing to do with poetry. The Chinese title of 唐氏八宅  seems more practical. It can be translated as the Eight Houses of the Tang Family.

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The cards themselves are relatively simple — black line drawings on a tan background. However, since Qingguo recently was revamped and reopened to the public, I decided to see if I could actually find the places depicted on these cards.

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A majority of them did correspond with actual locations. Interestingly enough, some didn’t. The locations actually don’t look like the pictures, either. How could that be? There’s an easy answer to that: these postcards were issued ten years ago in 2009.  So, these cards are commemorating the Qingguo that once was. As for the homes that are no longer there, it’s possible that they will be at some point. What was recently opened was just a first step. There are plans to add to Qingguo over the years.

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I took the above photo back in 2014.That was before the area was cordoned off and thoroughly demolished and rebuilt. My guess is the Qingguo of that year also didn’t look like what is on the China Post issued cards. Qingguo of that era was crumbling and nearly derelict. Despite these disparities, the cards themselves can be taken as a celebration of the area in general. Historically influential Changzhou families — like the Tangs — did live here. Still, the disparity of what was and what things are going forward is a typically accurate display of this city’s extremely quick economic development.