I packed my back, and set foot on my journey with the drizzle in the Qingming Festival taking the green trains to shuttle among the mountains in Fujian, Guangdong and Jiangxi provinces so as to enjoy mountains and rivers, taste the beauty of nature, and seek the historical monuments hiding in the mountains.
On the eve of the Qingming Festival, one of my classmates asked me where to go in the coming holidays. At that point, I had no plan to travel, but realized later I had been stuck in the same place for long and that I should go out for a tour. Moreover, since a long time ago, I’d always had in my mind a dream of one day leaving my footprints all over mountains and rivers of China.
On April 6, in the city of Meizhou.
In the early morning, with the gentle rain, I was walking slowly in a silent street of Meizhou along the Meijiang River. Unconsciously I came to an archway, went through it, walked a short way ahead, and reached one pool, across which there was a gate, in the middle of which hung a golden plaque, which read “Qianfota Temple”, four golden Chinese characters.
I had already heard of something about the current temples, but my curiosity drove me inside to take a closer look at it. Sure enough, I entered it, seeing all monks being dressed in rags, who looked more like a swarm of worldly Buddhist priests than eminent monks at first sight. The monks standing everywhere, some incense in their hands, kept staring at me, wherever I went about the temple, which made me feel as if I had strayed into a slaughter house and have to watch my step in the temple. It seemed that I would only stand in awe of it as long as I saw a temple in the future.
Coming out of the temple, I went to the Hakka Town by taxi at 9 o’clock in the morning. The town lay in several valleys, of which only one valley close to the entrance I visited due to time constraints. Near the exit, I saw the interesting Hakka-style clay figures in the hillside on one side of the road, on which I was walking toward the exit while looking at the clay figures. Suddenly I felt very familiar with the scenes on the clay wall, and just then called to mind the country life in my childhood. Recently I had been going back to my hometown, but seldom found the kind of feelings in face of the village where all including the persons and things had changed.
On April 7, in the city of Longyan.
In the wee hours of the morning, I was twisting my way through the alleys alone in the dark night. Just at the moment when a patch of vegetable garden was jumping into my eyes I didn’t know how many alleys I had walked down. I had to shut my umbrella blocked by the fences on either side of the path lying through the vegetable garden toward which I was walking in order to continue to move ahead, and came to the end of the pathway, in which there was another alley so very narrow that I thought in my heart it should be a dead end again, through which I went slightly sideways. Coming to a slightly wider street, and glancing at the screen of my mobile, I realized that I had eventually wound through the area without roads on the electronic map, so my heart just kept hanging up was finally reset to its original state. Before that, I had been regretting of my choice. If I had known it, I would not have cut across the place; if I had taken the main roads, I would have taken a detour, but would have taken the easy way out.
I arrived at the Longyan Railway Station on foot at 5 o’clock in the morning. After I had breakfast in the waiting room, my train number K8740 still had not come. Then I took out my mobile phone to view the information about it, and knew it had departed from Fuzhou yesterday evening. The train had been running slowly all night within Fujian, at least three hours later of which it was to ease out. No wonder I had been hearing the complaint before that the train in Fujian was so very slow that people need to spend the whole day being driven away from Fujian; but recently I had also seen someone say the train now running in Fujian was extremely thrilling like flying in the sky. Whether slow trains or thrilling trains, they all had their own reasons for existing and might represent the products from different times.
Upon boarding, I found one row of empty seats, one seat by the window of which I sat on. My eyes were capable of nothing out of the window but the raindrops beating on the window glasses at that moment, with the hazy night being still brooding over the land of western Fujian, and then I could only close my eyes to take a short nap. My eyes opened, and the hazy night having cleared, the train was steering on the very high railway bridge, with the villages, the farmlands, the roads, and the rolling hills in the distance in sight.
The train flied out of the tunnel in the mountainside, rumbled across the high railway bridge spanning the valley, and plunged into another mountainside again, and so it had been rushing across the long tunnels and the towering bridges. Then suddenly, I felt as if I had come to a fairyland in the world with the train, just seeing a snow-white light mist haunting the woods like veils hanging on the tree branches, a thick morning fog surrounding the hilltops like peaks stabbing the sky, and the vapors curling up like the light smoke, rising slowly into the air from the valley floor, pouncing on the moving train, striking on the windows of the train, and disappearing in a moment.
The scenery on both sides of the Ganlong railway line, from Ganzhou to Longyan, was rather different from that of the Zhanglong railway line, from Zhangping to Longchuan. I had taken a train to go to Longyan from Meizhou last day, which had been running in the ravines along the Meijiang River and the Tingjiang River, having seen the river views and the green hills on either bank of the rivers, with the view not wider than today’s.
On April 7, in the county of Changting.
It was very difficult for me not to think of the age, fashionable but traditional, the time, having been filled with wars but also passion and dreams, and the epoch, where the culture had been plentiful and the talents had occurred in large number, as I was standing in front of a plaque, with the inscription of “National Xiamen University”.
On some day of the year of 1937, National Xiamen University had been forced to close, with Japanese troops having occupied the Jinmen Island separated from Xiamen only by a narrow strip of water. Three days later, more than 300 teachers and students had begun to move into the mountains in western Fujian holding books in their hands and carrying baggage on their shoulders; and 23 days later they had come to the county of Changting to continue their work and studies crossing over mountains and wading through rivers. In Changting, National Xiamen University had trained 15 academicians, 6 university presidents, and other hundreds of famous experts, scholars and professors. In the roughest of times of China’s Patriotic War, the youth of Xiamen University had carried the faith of ” one inch of the land of country one inch of blood” into fight, and had sprinkled their boiling blood to foreign countries.
At 8 o’clock in the morning, my train arrived at the Changting Railway Station. Coming out of the Railway Station Square, and passing through the streets, a moment later, I found the Sanyuan Pavilion, which had ever been the main entrance of the ancient city of Tingzhou, and then went through it, from which Tingzhou Examination Hall was across, which had become today’s Changting Museum, of which I made a tour. Stepping out from the Changting Museum, I was walking east along the Zhaozheng Road lined with shops in ancient style and unique bus stations made by woods to look like pavilions. I saw the Tingzhou Confucian Temple now standing empty and the former site of National Xiamen University in Changting on my way to the city walls in the Wolong Mountain. Coming down from it, I visited the Tingzhou Town God Temple, and then passed through the ancient street of Ming and Qing, “Diantou Street”, went out of Huiji Gate, and then went back to the railway station by foot around Changting City.
I found a restaurant near the railway station to have lunch, and left Fujian Province for Ruijin City in Jiangxi Province by train in the afternoon. I roamed around the former site of the central government of the Chinese Soviet Republic with my strong curiosity in Ruijin, and headed for Ganzhou by train in the early evening, which was the last leg of my trip.
On April 8, in the city of Ganzhou.
Ganzhou, the south gate of Jiangxi Province, population 9.16 million, 8.7 million (95%) of which is Hakka, which was the first stop in the south for the “Early Hakka Settlers”, is known as the “Cradle of Hakkas”.
At the turn of Northern and Southern Song Dynasty, with Jin State invading south, large numbers of fugitives poured into Ganzhou City, so that which, a small town in the mountains in Southern Jiangxi, became a metropolitan city of Southern Song Dynasty; and so it has the good reputation of “Song Dynasty City of Jiangnan”. Ganzhou was the political center of the boarding areas among Fujian, Guangdong, Jiangxi and Hunan Provinces, and also was the main thoroughfare between the Central Plain and Lingnan until Yuehan Railway Line went into operation, which would have passed through Jiangxi, but was built in Hunan, and now is the Southern Jingguang Railway Line.
I had originally planned to visit only the area of the ancient city of Ganzhou, but later I first went to Tongtianyan Scenic Area in the suburbs of the city, which is known as “Jiangnan First Grotto”, because I realized I didn’t have to take a whole day to achieve it. It was unexpected that I would spend six hours walking around it after I went there. Getting down from the scenic area, I felt very drowsy.
After my return from Tongtianyan, I was rambling along the Zhangjiang River, entered Song Dynasty City of Ganzhou through the Xijin Gate, walked about 500 meters along the Xijin Road, and saw a relatively old building. After I looked carefully, there was a stone stele above its front door, with the inscription of “Guangdong Guild Hall”. I walked into the alley beside the Guangdong Guild Hall, on both sides of which were the new restoring Song Dynasty residential-style buildings, and saw the City Walls of Ganzhou along the Zhangjiang River as soon as I arrived at the end of the alley.
Climbing up the Bajingtai standing on the city walls, I could clearly see the Zhangjiang River merging with the Gongjiang River beneath it to form Jiangxi’s mother river, about 500 kilometers of Ganjiang River. There were lots of jagged rocks and 18 Dangerous Shoals on the river bed, bloodcurdling and breathtaking, from here to Wan’an County, which was about 90 kilometers down the Ganjiang River. “In the Huangkong Rapids, I talked the fearfulness to myself”, Wen Tianxiang had written in his poem “Passing by Lingdingyang”, he had used the fearfulness that the Huangkong Rapids had brought him to express the fears in his heart for the situation in Song Dynasty having been rapidly deteriorating and the future of his home country unable to foresee. As Su Shi had been exiled to Lingnan, having passed Jiangxi, he had written the poem “An old man 3500 kilometers away, a body among 18 Dangerous Shoals”, where he had used the dangerous situation where he had been in 18 Dangerous Shoals in torrents to imply that he would have narrowly escaped death as long as he had gone to Lingnan 3500 kilometers away from Kaifeng, the Eastern Capital of the Song Dynasty. Now owing to the Wan’an Hydropower Station having been built, the rapids had been submerged under water, but the attractive scenery on both banks of the Ganjiang River was still original. Recently, every time I had gone to Shenzhen by train, but I hoped that I come here from my hometown by boat one day, and then walk on the Ancient Post Road of Meiguan having gone through millennium vicissitudes to go into Guangdong Province and hunt for the footprints of the ancients for thousands of years.
Getting down from the Bajingtai, and walking through the Bajing Park, I arrived in front of the Yongjin Gate of the Ancient City of Ganzhou, outside which was flowing the Gongjiang River. Standing at the city gate, I saw the Hedong Floating Bridge across the river lying distantly ahead of me; and then walking along the Gongjiang River for a moment, I got to the floating bridge, seeing many fishermen selling all kinds of fishes freshly caught from the river at the bridgehead, and a couple of persons jumping into the river from the bridge to swim. Coming to the middle of the bridge, I could palpably feel the rolling water flowing beneath my feet, which suddenly struck me that the green river in spring cutting through Jiangxi from south to north might be the most precious thing in Jiangxi, which no amount of money could buy, and that the river water being priceless, naturally there were some persons said to have set their sights on it. The bridge being too long, and my body and mind being too exhausted because of my strolling all day, I only came here and then returned to the Jianchun Gate, from which I entered into the city. Now the Yin Street, which was one of six streets of the Ancient City of Ganzhou, and other historical monuments of Song Dynasty, being close to me, I had no desire to visit them, possibly being too tired.
Walking in the old city district of Ganzhou, you can see the historical monuments of Song Dynasty everywhere. No wonder Ganzhou is called Song Dynasty City, and also someone has vividly compared Ganzhou City to “the History Museum of Song Dynasty”. Of course, what the ancients left behind today’s Ganzhou are not just the things with ornamental and investigative value. The Fushougou, a sewerage system built in Song period, is still carrying the burden of the drainage in the old city area of Ganzhou City. The Fushougou existing, Ganzhou City has never experienced a hit by flood or waterlogging for more than 900 years.
Founded in Tang Dynasty, Ganzhou City was surrounded on three sides by water. Then the designers selecting its location for military affairs, but neglecting the three rough rivers encircling the city, the floods would occur in the city when the rain spell coming. In the fifth year of Xining of Shenzong Emperor in Song Dynasty (AD 1073), Liuyi was transferred to be the Zhizhoushi of Ganzhou, who was a water specialist having become Dushuicheng for some times, and began to take charge of building the sewerage system. A few years later, the Fushougou was finished, with all the streets of the Ancient City of Ganzhou filled with underground conduits, which was named “Fushougou” due to the runs of the two main drainage channels resembling the two Chinese characters “Fu” and “Shou” written with seal character.
In the beginning of the summer in 2010, the dozens of cities in southern china suffered from the waterlogging disaster, with the heavy rain continuing, but only Ganzhou avoided the disaster, without cars soaked in floodwater, because of which, the media across the nation focused on the Fushougou in Ganzhou. Interviewed by the reporter of China Youth Daily, a Director of City Management from Guangdong Province recognized the sewerage system having been built in Ganzhou was the best one, but added that the system had been left by the ancients.