Tag Archives: Jingchuan Park

Slow Boating Jingchuan Park

With summer officially over, the week-long National Holiday is upon us. Typically, this is a time of travel, but in the our current age of COVID, some may not feel the urge to to jump on an train, plane, or bus. Some of us may even have employers that actively discourage us from doing so. If you fall into that category, there is plenty of stuff to see around Changzhou.

The many public parks around town are actually some very easy places to kill time during the day. Jingchuan over in Zhonglou is one of them. This park is dedicated to a fierce warrior who came from Changzhou and died centuries ago. That warrior’s final resting place is in the very same Zhonglou public park that bares his name.

Though, I do get that I am one the rare people that likes going to places to seek out tombs, dead cultural figures of interest, and local historical anecdotes from antiquity. I do get that some people find that penchant of mine boring. And yes, my essay structure elsewhere on this blog is predictable and circular. My introduction paragraph is similar to my conclusion with a lot of meandering in between. Let’s change that. Let us speak of boats!

Jingchuan Park is one of Changzhou’s public green spaces where you can rent a boat and float around artificially created waterways. Notice I didn’t say the word zoom. The above picture looks very chaotic — like three boats were about to smash spectacularly against each other at high speeds. I can tell you emphatically that didn’t happen. The boats at Jingchuan Park only go like only a kilometer an hour on what feels like a low-grade moped engine that spits out a lot of burnt-oil smoke. Same as go-carts. Still. Our three boats still managed to hit each other under a very classical-looking Chinese stone bridge. Nobody got angry. Nobody exhibited the sort of homicidal road rage one might find on the highways running through Los Angeles, California. In Jingchuan Park, we just pushed ourselves off of each other’s boats and floated our separate ways.

Even at low speeds through artificially created canals, Jingchuan is an enjoyable place to visit by boat. This is especially true if you have somebody in your boat your care about and want to share a leisurely experience with. This is also especially true is your more interested in gazing into somebody’s eyes, holding hands, and want some ambiance for that type of thing.

A Hall of Changzhou Antiques

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When something is thrown out, recycled, or demolished, it is lost to history. This is why collectors are important people; a type cultural memory survives through them. Eventually, their passion for things can become museums that preserve history and cultural traditions. Changzhou has such people.

Out near the former Qishuyan district, there is the Hidden Dragon Musuem. This took a man’s decades long obsession with dragons into turned it into a folk display of everything from calligraphy to ceramics and empty baijiu bottles. There is something similar near Hongmei Park with a small exhibit of old snuff boxes, pipes, tobacco ads, and empty packs of cigarettes.  These places do not exist as for profit businesses. They do not charge entrance fees, and even if they did, the amount of foot traffic they generate would not pay their bills. This places exist because of a few powerful people recognize their cultural value and help protect them.

However, not all collectors enjoy support in that way. Sometimes, providing a cultural space for relics of older days can be challenging. Yi Mu is an old industrial space that currently is home to a variety of antiques. It’s also a space used to host tea and zen dancing events, and this is how I learned of the place, recently.

I enjoyed the event — it taught me, finally, how to correctly hold a caligraphy brush.

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However, I found the ambiance of the place even more intriguing. Here, you can see everything from old fire arms…

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… old chamber pots …

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… sewing machines …

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…. and there is much, much more. All of this works together to create a special ambiance that can’t be found elsewhere in Changzhou.

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However, unlike other cultural spaces in this city, the future of Yi Mu is uncertain. The owner’s lease is coming to an end, and there is the posibility that the property’s owner may not renew. Yi Mu’s owner has also had trouble locating adequate space should he be forced to relocate his large antique collection.  Hopefully, a way can be found to preserve this space. In the mean time, it can be found off of Qingtan Road in Zhonglou — just around the corner from the Jingchuan Park’s West Gate.