After a few weeks of biggish rides, or maybe it was the yoga, my muscles were telling me they wanted another low mileage day rather than a big Sunday ride. That, and I’d gotten a little heat rash on last Thursday’s ride to Nandun’s “ghost city” and Shenqiu, so I decided to keep my Sunday ride local.
Steve had been wanting to see my new discovery anyway; the Qing dynasty manor house, only four miles away.
The manor is huge, with lower buildings enough along it’s lake front to house staff or a large extended family. It’s fallen into disrepair and would need a serious infusion of cash to restore it, as has been done with the manors in Dengcheng and Yuan Shikai’s former residence in Gangchalou. Some squatters have taken up residence around the edges but otherwise it seems vacant. From it’s location close to the smaller of the three rivers that merge in Zhoukou, it surely benefited from river traffic.
Few locals I’ve talked to even know it exists. The mother of a student said it’s “like the great wall”, well, it’s not that old, probably only 19th century. Another said it’s called “China 5000 years.” A friend who grew up in Zhoukou not far from it had no idea it existed. There’s no direct approach or even a view of it from any street, only the river levee. No one has been able to tell me it’s real name.
In the afternoon we rode back to it again with a few students and our colleague B.J. Though we couldn’t enter, we peered through cracks and made up stories. The students said the papers pasted around the gateway were Taoist and spoke of many “great works” performed. We glimpsed a pagoda and beautiful statuary.
It appears to have been open to the public at one time. We found what looked like a ticket booth, but parts of some roofs had caved in so maybe they just locked it up and walked away. What looked like stables along the road wall appeared to have been lived in at one time.
Alongside it’s high crenelated side wall was a cemetery. Sometime after the Cultural Revolution a largish building (factory? housing?) was erected directly behind. It seemed vacant, too. A large construction project was in progress on the other side. The road exits through a sleepy neighborhood out to a main street.
So my time in Zhoukou is nearly up, we’re in the middle of final exams, but mysteries still await. Some people say I know Zhoukou better than the locals, (I may know some locations better) but I wouldn’t know what I do know without my bicycle.