Photos from this weekend: what’s left of the hutongs, the marriage market, inside a shuttered 100-year-old church building, the headless statue museum-restaurant (the 70’s were rough), and some neighbourhood shots. I didn’t take half these photos. Click them to see a bigger size.
Tianjin’s Marriage Market
I have to do an article on this marriage market! It’s just too awesome, and the people — hordes of parents and grandparents trying to arrange blind dates for their unmarried children — are super friendly and talkative. Some translations of the banners and signs that were hung around:
- “Hand-in-Hand Marriage Introductions” (手牵手婚介) — a banner on a matchmaking company’s booth
- “Help each other attack marriage” (互助征婚). “Attack” as in “tackle the problem”… I think… maybe “help each other request marriage”… I don’t know.
- “Matrimony Information Exchange Station” (婚姻信息交流站) — includes a “Man department” (男区) and a “Woman department” (女区).
Many people advertise their child’s stats right on their shirt. The man in red has a daughter, the man in blue has a son:
People also advertise from their bike baskets, or hang their child’s stats on lines in the “Matrimony Info Exchange Station.” Jessica interprets some details on an eligible bachelor for Nadina:
These two guys are perusing in the woman department:
Inside the crumbling “Purple Bamboo Forest” church
We finally got inside the long-shuttered Zǐzhúlín jiàotáng (紫竹林教堂) (photo gallery); workers were inside when we arrived. Neither the workers nor the residents knew what was to become of it.
Headless statue museum-restaurant
Finally returned to the headless statue restaurant — I don’t know what its real name is. It’s a museum-restaurant hybrid, full of “cultural relics,” which in this case means old statues, most of which were decapitated during the Cultural Revolution. I asked one of the attendants why they had no heads, just to see how she’d respond. She tactfully replied that there were some political movements in which people removed the heads. Points for being straight with the foreigner.
Nanshi during the Olympics
Since we were already in the area showing Nadina the town on a Saturday bike tour, we pedaled through what’s left of Nanshi, the hutongs that they kicked everyone out of for the Olympics.
They didn’t have time to flatten it completely before the Games, so they’ve built a massive wall around it. If you were looking at it, you’d just assume that behind the conspicuously high, long, connected billboards was a regular construction site. You can freely go in, but finding entrance points was a little tricky.
Inside was like a ghost town, only more depressing because there were more people still there than I expected. A few squatter’s shacks have been set up, some with brightly coloured flags flying from the roof, and there were still small children running around playing, so I wonder if some families are refusing to leave. There was still, to my surprise, remnants of one of the larger street markets selling vegetables. The key maker (photo) was still there, although the bathhouse (photo) across the street from him is nothing but the front wall. The tea house (photo) is gone. The vendor who originally helped me find Mr. Wu on my first return trip was still there in the same place with her cart, but she said she’s already moved out and just comes in to do business (I have no idea why). Two-thirds of Mr. Wu’s building is demolished. Mostly only some of the larger apartment buildings remain untoppled.
Scavengers were picking through the vast lots of rubble; one guy had a metal detector. The wall curved out of sight; it looked bigger from the inside.
We biked all over. There were lots of swimmers in the river (I want to swim so bad, but I would need a really good excuse to justify exposing myself to that “water”). The “Tianjin Incident” church (building) still isn’t open for viewing; the church (people) meet next door in a metal shed that’s decorated with spray-painted angels and Santa Claus with his sleigh and reindeer. I don’t know what that’s about, and I’m afraid to find out.
I had to walk to borrow a bike for this trip; it was a gorgeous afternoon so here’s some photos from our neighbourhood:
The three-wheel truck is called a “three horse” (三马 / sān mǎ). This one is parked at a neighbouring stairwell. On nice days, people often take their birds to the park, put them in trees or on that grass, and sit and watch them.