Tag Archives: chongqing

Stick Stick Men

stick stick man chongqing

I met these ‘stick stick’ men in the Chinese city of Chongqing.  Like many cities along the Yangtze River, Chongqing is very hilly with winding steep stairs cut into the rocky cliffs which lead from one location to another. The ‘stick stick’ men make up an army of thousands of porters who walk around with their bamboo poles. These poles or sticks can form a yoke over their shoulders which they use to carry produce, baggage, textiles, appliances and even construction materials for strangers who hire them.

I marveled at the amazing strength of these men who climb up steep hills with heavy burdens. They work long hours for just a few dollars a day. Many are farmers who have been displaced because the government has flooded their land to build a huge hydro electric dam on the Yangtze. I spoke through an interpreter to some of the men. They are working to earn money to provide food for their families and an education for their children.  They are at the bottom of the Chinese social ladder but they want better prospects for their sons and daughters. Hope for a good future for the next generation inspires Chongqing’s ‘stick stick’ men.

stick stick man chongqing

Other posts about people in China……

Bamboo Gorge Boat Trackers

Faithless? Definitely Not!

Ai Wei Wei- Giving the Finger to his Home and Native Land

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Filed under China, Reflections, Religion, Travel

Three Gorges Project Yangtze River


Dave and I stand outside a temple on the Yangtze River in 2004. Dave is pointing to a mark by the temple door. We were told the waters of the river would reach that height on the temple when the Three Gorges Dam project was complete. The project was finally declared complete this past July according to this Reuters article. The Chinese government built the dam to provide hydro-electric power and to control the flooding of the Yangtze.

I was reminded of our trip down the Yangtze River by a photo taken by Edward Burtynsky called Feng Ji #9. It is on display at the Winnipeg Art Gallery and I often point it out to visitors on the tours I give at the gallery. It is one of a series of photographs taken by Burtynsky to show the effects of the Three Gorges Project. Burtynsky is a photographer who specializes in capturing the landscapes created by what he calls the ‘plunder of the earth.’ You can see Burtynsky’s Three Gorges images,  on his website.

Over a million people lost their homes as the Three Gorges Dam was built and the Yangtze River rose.

Four hundred year old houses and eight hundred year old bridges were demolished.Terraced fields that represented centuries of hard labor by local farmers were washed away along with palm trees, lush vegetation, factories, schools and apartment buildings. Winding mountain access roads which communities worked together for generations to build with pick axes and shovels are gone.

Also tragic is the loss of thousands of cultural and historical relics. Temples, statues and monuments disappeared under the rising waters. We saw White Crane Ridge a rocky outcrop near the city of Fuling. It contains twenty carved pictures and over 300,000 Chinese characters which record the history of the river beginning in the year 763.  It is now underwater although the Chinese government has turned it into an underwater museum. 

At one point our river guide pointed to writing on the cliff walls. These are recently painted versions of original poems which have already been submerged by the flooding. Each Chinese emperor penned some literary verse after observing the beauty of the Yangtze’s Three Gorges. Artists then carved their words into the rock. All this poetry dating back thousands of years, now lies under the water, to be viewed only by fish and the occasional fool hardy scuba diver.

   In the city of Chongqing we met artist, Lui Zuo Zhong. For twenty years he hiked the regions that were to be flooded taking thousands of photographs and doing hundreds of sketches of the people, scenery and landmarks. Mr. Zhong has worked tirelessly to create a painting as long as a football field which depicts the riverbank of the Yangtze before the flooding began. Although he does not have the proper funding to display the mural in a climate controlled setting, he has opened a small outdoor museum where his work of art hangs under a tin roof.

He autographs and sells printed reproductions to fund his fight to preserve the unique beauty and culture of the rapidly disappearing Yangtze Three Gorges Region.

Here I’m standing at the Three Gorges Dam with some of our traveling companions. 

This art piece is said to show the Chinese people fighting with the Yangtze. Over the years the river has caused flooding and destruction. In building the Three Gorges Dam China believes that at last they have conquered the Yangtze, harnessing its power to provide electricity to a nation. But at what cost? 

Other posts about our Yangtze River Experience………

Bamboo Gorge Boat Trackers

Stick Stick Men

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Filed under China, History, Hong Kong, Nature, Travel