Photos of Dragons.
Photo Of Buddha with 1000 hands.
Tugboats On The Grand Canal China Tow Barges Between Suzhou and Wuxi.
By a journey on the Grand Canal, the group of tourists, added another type of travel in China to their list. Their boat took them on the Grand Canal, from Suzhou to Wuxi. There is a canal at Trevor, North Wales, that is conveyed over the Dee Valley by an aqueduct, but it is not used for commercial purposes, in the same way that the Grand Canal in China is used. Travelling on the Grand Canal certainly gave us much to think about. When we were told that many of the barges on the Grand Canal had concrete hulls, we wondered how it was possible for them to remain on the surface of the water and not sink. Some of them appeared to be heavily loaded with bricks, or trunks of trees, other loads were covered with tarpaulines, either to protect the loads from the elements, or from prying eyes. The use of a canal to transport goods would certainly relieve the pressure on modern day roads, but in 1987 the roads in China were not under that sort of pressure. Nevertheless, at the time of our visit, the Grand Canal was a very busy thoroughfare, not that we were prompted to complain, for the journey gave us an insight into the lives of the people working with the canal barges, and sometimes living in them as a family.
Although our canal boat had comfortable quarters below deck, we spent most of the journey from Suzhou to Wuxi outside; we had a much clearer view of the activities on the canal embankment, and also on the working boats and canal barges, we passed. The people on the boats and barges seemed to be as much interested in the 'foreigners' as we were in them, and they would always return a smile or wave that was directed their way. Our lifestyles may have been different but we shared one factor.... curiosity! For the people working on the barges, their busiest times would have been when their cargoes were being loaded, or being offloaded. Except for general maintenance, or, for the self-powered barges or boats, making sure they were avoiding any collisions with other barges, there were some times that the people on board could spend at leisure. A wide variety of activities on the canal barges were observed during our journey. For the women, their spare time seemed to be spent knitting or sewing, for the men, their spare time appeared to be spent cooking or sleeping!
People sleeping on the barges did not seem to be troubled when the captain of our boat sounded the klaxon as a warning to barges and boats ahead of us. There were different types of vessels on the canal. We did not see any splendidly adorned canal barges, as we had seen on films, on their way to Peking, loaded with tributes for the Emperor. We did see large self-propelled barges which had living quarters on deck, carrying adults and children. There were smaller concrete hull barges that had no cabins of any sort, and some of the barges were simply concrete hulls, propelled by oarsmen. Some of the small boats carrying cargo were fitted with sails and hand operated rudder, one such boat was loaded with bales of salvaged cardboard. The largest conveyors of cargo were the trains of connected barges towed by tugboats. The skippers of the tugboats seemed to use the klaxon quite frequently; they would have had very little leeway in steerage or speed, if any sort of obstruction crossed their course.
Barges And Boats On The Grand Canal China, Suzhou To Wuxi.
Click the large Canal photo above to get to the Grand Canal web pages
Although some of the cargo on the canal barges was under cover, we did see barges loaded with many different items, including rice straw bales, building materials such as bricks, sand and gravel, timber some of which was in the form of wooden planks from sawmills, other timber was of tree trunks being taken to sawmills. Other items of cargo were concrete blocks and loads of coal. It would appear that as a result of the transport facilities afforded by the canal and its barges, industries were prompted to manufacture their products nearby, evident by the tall chimneys of factories seen on the skyline, sending out plumes of black smoke. On the embankment itself we saw two lime kilns, and at another location, a brickworks from where workers using shoulder poles were carrying building bricks, to be loaded onto a barge moored at the landing stage.
It maybe that the Grand Canal shapes and governs the lives of all the people born and bred in the regions through which it flows. The Canal becomes a part of their lives, just as the coal mines became a part of the lives of the people of the coal fields in the UK. It was not unusual to see children on the Canal Barges we passed. School education had to be paid for so did they gain their knowledge from their experiences on the barges, on the embankments, and sometimes in the waters of the canal? We saw some children washing themselves in the canal waters, even though the water was not particularly clean. Children on the canal barges were supposed to wear lifebelts, but we saw none being worn. The canal people, whether living on canal barges or in houses on the embankments of the canal, were certainly special people in our eyes. They looked happy with their lot, and certainly had a friendly nature.
For more information about the Grand Canal of China you may wish to use the Wikipedia link at the bottom of this page.
''''' The Grand Canal of China, also known as the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal is the longest ancient canal or artificial river in the world. It passes through the cities of Beijing and Tianjin and the provinces of Hebei, Shandong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang. The oldest parts of the canal date back to the 5th century BC. Src: Wikipedia.com. '''''
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23rd June, 2007
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