|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.
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