A useless guide around a fascinating building site

Tianjin Travel Blog

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People i met here, who contributed to and improved my trip: Julia (Russia)

I had a restless night aboard the train, waking up at constant intervals. I was petrified someone would try and steal my day bag and had nowhere to put it other than next to my head, which really didn't leave me much room to get comfortable. It was also a problem to get a good temperature, as their thick blankets were making me sweat, but without them it was too cold. So even though it was before 06.00 when i was woken up by the train steward, i was pleased to be getting out into the new day.

Eventually we managed to figure out which bus would take us somewhere near the centre and 30 minutes later we were been dropped off, still a little clueless as to where we actually were. Julia spotted the roof of onion domed Xikai Church and we used this as a reference point to work our way towards the Treaty Port Architecture, on Jiefeng Beilu.

Once at the impressive Jiefeng Bridge, our wonderful Lousy Planet Map showed that all we had to do was follow this road down and we would come to all of the old colonial structures.

It therefore came as quite a shock to see huge gaps and piles of rubble where the buildings that we had come to see were supposed to be... well, at least according to the map. It soon became evident that there was nothing to see, so we decided to wander off down an adjacent road and thank goodness we did! The Lousy had been up to its old tricks again and produced a thoroughly inept map, as it had labeled Jiefeng Bielu as the road coming off the bridge,when it was actually a road running parallel to this.

The street was undergoing major refurbishment work with rubble and dust taking up the majority of the street.
Most of the building facades were thankfully visible and it was enjoyable to see what the Europeans had left behind, most of it been rather impressive. A lot of the buildings had been built to house banks from all around the World, and today they seem to host the majority of powerhouse banks within China.

Reaching the end of the street, we found a nice little park and went in to watch Chinese people at their finest. Men and women of all ages (but mostly old) were playing table tennis, different versions of hackysack, mahjong and doing some general exercises on fitness machines that were installed in the park. Julia joined in by performing some aerobics (see photo!). To me, this was a much more enjoyable experience than the previous day in Chengde and had set us back 180RMB ($26) less.

Continuing on a circuit around the city, which is home to nearly 10 million Chinese people, we were confronted with major construction sites at every turn we made. Apparently the council planners had decided to give the place a major face lift, but the only problem is that they were trying to do everything at once, rather than a little at a time. This meant that all of the work that had been started, but pretty much nothing completed, which is a feeling that i get when walking around Beijing as well. There was a grey tinge to the air and when you rubbed your finger round the edge of your nose, it became black!

Around 10.30 we had to stop for a drink and to cool down, as it was turning into a sweltering day.
Refreshed and ready to go again and next destination was Xikai Church, which we had seen earlier. The French built Church had suffered a turbulent History, with damage caused both from the Cultural Revolution and an earthquake. It made for a pleasant stop, before heading back into the town centre, where we wandered the streets of the antique market.

Our last destination for the day was the Hai River, which we had a brief walk along and took the chance to have another look at the Jiefeng Bridge. Although we still had 90 minutes before our train was due to leave, we decided that it was sensible to start making our way towards the station, as we really couldn't afford to miss the bullet train back to Beijing, bringing to an end a pleasant day out in Tianjin. I think this is one place i'd like to come back to in 5 years, when hopefully all the building work has been finished, i think it should look pretty spectacular!

Deats says:
You do right mate, it does what it says on the front :D
Posted on: May 01, 2008
Johnb42 says:
LOL@ lousy planned it!!!!.......I'm using rough guides myself so far so good with them!!
Posted on: Apr 30, 2008
Deats says:
Dont get me started mate hehehe
Posted on: Apr 28, 2008
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photo by: vivien_huang