Recently, I returned to one of Changzhou’s wastelands, but this time, it was more by accident. I was trying to ride my bike out west for the afternoon. I was on my way to Zouqu in Wujin’s western arm. However, I always in the habit of trying new shortcuts on a whim, and sometimes those shortcuts pan out. Other times, I end up in a strange place.
On this occasion, I ended up by the Chairman Mao statue near the Metro supermarket. This place is odd because you have one of China’s founding fathers juxtaposed with barren land and shattered red bricks. As it turns out, the wasteland near that statue looks more extensive and post apocalyptic than at first glance. There is a road that bypasses the statue and goes into only what I can assume “once was” a neighborhood. I had seen those road the last time I was there, but I didn’t ride down it because twilight was quickly fading into night.
When I returned, the sun shone overhead and I now knew I could safely cut through the area. It was hard not to think of a weird science fiction film. An armless, naked female mannequin stood on a red pedestal. She leaned against a dirty white wall with corroded stains. Further up the road, it looked like a field of rubble and debris — as if a bomb had been dropped and the place was being cleaned up afterwards. The strangest thing, perhaps, was the people. You can still see people living here, selling things, and playing with their children.
Again, this isn’t the first time I have seen a scene like this in Changzhou. It probably will not be the last, either. It’s likely an ongoing thing in contemporary China. Destroy the old; build the new. In a few years, this wasteland will probably not be here. It will likely be replaced by a new high-rise housing development, a park, or shopping center.