Gongtan is a town in Youyang county of Chongqing city situated along Wujiang river, a branch of Yangtze river meeting at Fuling, a city in upper stream before famous Three Gorges. Although as an aged community with 1,700 year-old history, Gongtan is too old and rustic to flaunt itself and, so small too that you can hardly find it in a standard map of China. Nevertheless, some crazy backpackers from different cities have set their feet on that remote corner and brought back with astonishing report and impressive photos – an unforgettable place especially so when it is up against its final destiny of being flooded in a couple of years due to a controversial hydro-power plant project.

Gangtan is a rare example of nearly intact old town: most of its buildings were set up in Ming and Qing dynasties in typical southern China’s “Ganlan” tectonic style. The old town extends in a swath along Wujiang river. Owing to a slope terrain, many waterfront houses weigh only partly on the ground meanwhile the protrudent part is supported by wood stilt standing upon the river shore. The torrents of Wujiang river have accompanied generations of town folks in highs and downs of their life. Used to be a booming town as an important trading port on edible salt and other daily-use necessities, especially after a landslide near Gongtan occurred in 1875 that blocked Wujiang river for a lengthy time. All cargo or passengers downstream and upstream had to stop at Gongtan for further transferring. Tourists today can only imagine those illusions of crisp life of this port town when strolling on slate-paved alleys, passing by mansion complexes used to be owned by business gurus or facing those flung-up rusty tow stones at river shore. Still it’s hard to picture this isolated quiet town in backwater of today’s China as once a hundred-odd years being a wealth converging place and a paradise of revelry for sailors. Yet, little legendary tales have been come down although Gongtan has been spotted as an arena for shooting some story films as well as a site of photographing and painting fanciers. The weathered log and timber frame houses are perfect sources of nostalgic feelings. But all of these will woefully disappear like a shining pearl to be dropped into the ocean.
In this edition, we lead you to this town and catch the last glimpse of weighed past of the people been living there so long.

The following pictures and some text are offered by courtesy of “深蓝海shi”, “为爱放逐天涯”, “大雨如注” and “Ami000” (The names quoted here are their IDs on BBS of www. Tianyaclub.com)

Anyone who is interested in visiting Gongtan town may fly to Chongqing city or to take a train to Jishou city in western Hunan province at first. There are buses departing from either city to Youyang county then you need a short-distance transfer to Gangtan town. You may book scheduled flights between Hong Kong and Chongqing or book our city break of Chongqing that offer flight and hotel accommodation together at China Travel Service (HongKong) Limited.
For any comment or question about this article, please contact by email intweb@ctshk.com

 
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