me in the piazza

I'm a writer, publishing both as SJ Rozan and, with Carlos Dews, as Sam Cabot. (I'm Sam, he's Cabot.) Here you can find links to my almost-daily blog posts, including the Saturday haiku I've been doing for years. BUT the blog itself has moved to my website. If you go on over there you can subscribe and you'll never miss a post. (Miss a post! A scary thought!) Also, I'll be teaching a writing workshop in Italy this summer -- come join us!
Previous Entry :: Next Entry

Read/Post Comments (2)
Share on Facebook



Now, Jieyuguan is a completely different kind of place. A center of China's petrochemical industry, it's a new city built more or less from scratch in the 60's. The plant employs about 110,000 of the city's 160,000 residents. The rest are the schoolteachers, restaurant workers, barbers, etc., all the service professions that gather around a company town. The plant's fairly clean, and unlike Lanzhou, which is built along a river and surrounded by mountains, Jieyuguan is on the plains, so the wind blows and whatever pollution there is can disperse. The broad avenues are bordered by wide sidewalks; bike lanes separate the two. Even the smaller streets are wide by Chinese standards. Everyone has indoor plumbing, and for all these broad avenues, only 1/10 of the population has cars so far. You've read all about how that's changing in China, but for now Jieyuguan is a nice place to live.

We got here by overnight train. A lot of the trains have been diverted to the earthquake area to help in the relief effort, so we were lucky that not only was our train not cancelled, but it was a new, smooth-ride, high class train. We had high-class berths, too, what are called "soft sleepers." Chinese overnight trains have 3 classes: soft sleeper, hard sleeper, and seat. Soft sleepers have quilts, matresses, pillows. Quite comfy, four to a compartment, with a toilet at either end of the car. (The other two classes are exactly what they sound like, by the way.) It was lovely, very reassuring and secure lying there cuddled in my berth.

The highlight of our stay here, to me, was a visit to an underground tomb on the edge of the desert with beautiful painted bricks depicting everyday life in the Han dynasty. I don't have photos -- not allowed -- but when I get back I'll find a link for you. The vast numbers of tombs, excavated and unexcavated, even as-yet-undiscovered, is staggering. Dynasty after dynasty, these were cultures that buried the dead with possessions for the afterlife (what my friend Charles calls "tomb trash") and out here in the desert even the wood and cloth sometimes survive for over a thousand years. The painters and potters, weavers, embroiderers, and bronze-makers, were extraordinary artists, and what they created so long ago is not only breathtaking in its age and intimacy with people so long gone, it's flat-out beautiful.

Read/Post Comments (2)

Previous Entry :: Next Entry

Back to Top

Powered by JournalScape © 2001-2010 All rights reserved.
All content rights reserved by the author.