On Qingming, I went to Jintan for the day wanting to learn more about the district. As noted elsewhere on this blog, it takes about a hour on an express bus from the city center. While that sounds bad, going from Wujin to Xinbei on the B1 line can be just as long. The main difference is that the BRT costs 1 RMB, whereas the Jintan express will run you about 15.
I spent a few hours with a Chinese friend, ate at KFC, and decided to return home. I walked back to the bus station, and that’s when I realized I made a travel blunder. Since it was a holiday, all the buses were booked. And the express departs frequently. Everybody else was returning from the holiday.
I had to kill an hour and a half. So, I whipped my phone out, summoned my Baidu Maps app, and located a church nearby. Not a complicated walk either. I went north from the coach terminal until I found Beihuan Road 北环路, and then I made a right. Stopped at the first cross I saw. It looked like the plain chapel I saw in Benniu, but only big and square — almost like a shabby, not-aging-well hotel with a red cross on it.
I like to do this thing I call”working the map.” If I am going to go out exploring, I first look at my Baidu maps app, smoke a couple cigarettes, and then figure out my destination. I do this by entering Chinese keywords. One of them is 基督教堂, which is “Christian church.” I am by no means a Christian, but I find churches culturally interesting to look at.
In Changzhou and China in general, Buddhism and Taoism are the most commonly practiced religions. The various shades of Christianity were more of a Western export just a few centuries ago. That came by way missionaries. What I have learned, though, is that Changzhou has more Christian churches than what one might expect. They usually are, however, hidden.
That could be said for the one in Benniu Township 奔牛镇. This is Wujin’s northwestern arm. Getting in there basically involved my riding through Xinbei and Zhonglou. Benniu itself is not as developed as some of the other parts of the city. The road quality consists of dusty concrete rather than tarmac or asphalt.
As for Benniu Christian Church 奔牛基督教会, you have to drive through an alleyway and a small housing district to get there. It’s a humble chapel as opposed to a imposing cathedral. The congregation is likely tiny. The only thing to really distinguish it as “Christian” are a couple of crosses.