in the 1990s, nanshan district tried to jumpstart the district economy through culture. in a sense, the effort was premature, as the city has only just started seriously investing in culture. nevertheless, it seemed a good idea at the time. there were two cultural pushes in nanshan. one was commercial, the other historical. commercial culture took the form of theme parks; window of the world (世界之窗), splendid china (锦绣中华), and happy valley (快乐谷) are all located in overseas chinese town (oct or 华侨城, itself both a street administration area and a major international conglomorate), which is located at the border between futian and nanshan districts. in addition, the oct corporation built the he xiangnian (何香凝美术馆) museum and a cultural center (华侨城文化广场), both state of the art cultural centers.
historical cultural development took place in western nanshan, along the eastern banks of the pearl river. nantou, the county yamen during the ming and qing dynasties is located there as are the ruins of a cannon fortress, a rebuilt tianhou temple, and the imperial grave of zhao bing, half-brother to zhao xian (赵显), the last emperor of the southern song before the establishment of the yuan dynasty. (at the grave site the bing character is written with a sun on top. however, i can’t find this character in my computor software. i searched online and came up with two alternatives, which may be an indication that most software programs don’t have this character. anyway, online the sun is either removed and the child emperor’s name is written 赵丙 or the sun and bing are separated as in: 赵日丙.)
the theme parks have thrived, but the historical sites have not fared as well. in fact, shenzhen’s purple tour bus (line 3) regularly travels between the luohu train station and windows of the world (世界之窗), the line ending even before the historical sites begin. consequently my favorite tour bus is the 226, a bus line serviced by double-decker buses so old they have wooden seats and often don’t have air-conditioning. fun stops along the 226 route include: nantou (site of the old yamen, which combines historic remnants, abandoned reconstructions, and new village life), nanshan courthouse (near canku new village, site of a small temple to the god of cantonese opera), shenzhen university, shekou (including shuiwan new village, which was one of the first villages to be rebuilt and so examplifies mid 1980s new village architecture and building scale), seaworld, and chiwan port.
this past weekend, i took the 226 to two stops: end of the line and the left cannon. the end of the line is near chiwan port, part of the large network of ports that together form “shenzhen port”. at chiwan port, a security guard asked me to refrain from taking pictures, but didn’t actually ask me to erase already taken pictures. when asked, he said there were no reasons why i couldn’t take pictures, it simply wasn’t permited. so when i turned a corner, i started snapping again.
this stop is also walking distance to the imperial grave, which is marked by a statue of zhao bing and loyal imperial minister, lu xiufu (陆秀夫). after the yuan had defeated the southern song, the last two southern song emperors fled to guangzhou, where the government was re-established. however, zhao rixia (赵日正) was executed in 1278, when zhao bing assumed the non-existent thrown. however, the following year, the yuan armies defeated the last southern song loyalists, following which liu xiufu carried the eight-year old emperor into the ocean to commit suicide. the imperial grave was restored in 1911 and marked with eight characters: 大宋祥兴少帝陵. the zhao family geneaology tells how the grave site was identified: at foot of the mountain, an old monk went to inspect the coast, suddenly seeing a floating corpse, a flock of birds hovering above. when he brought the body in, its face was as if alive, and the clothing uncommon. he knew it was the imperial corpse and ceremoniously buried it on the sunny side of the mountain (山下古寺老僧偶往海边巡视，忽见海中遗骸漂荡，上有群鸟遮居，设法拯上，面色如生，服式不似常人，知是帝骸，乃礼葬于本山麓之阳). this whole story gets retold as the origin of “kitten congee (猫仔粥)”, a speciality of fujian province.
after visiting the imperial grave, i took the 226 back toward the left cannon stop. the left cannon in question is one of eight cannons that the qing placed above the mouth of the pearl river to defend against pirates. the remnants of a small fortress remain and a statue of lin zexu (林则徐) has pride of place in the plaza. li zexu used the left cannon in his efforts to rid the area of opium, efforts which eventually led to the opium war. this is one of the few remaining mountains in nanshan, and the peak has been left for walking and admiring the chiwan port.
what i love most about this site are the fengshui trees that have grown up the side of the fortress. and although the left cannon is a designated patriotic education site (爱国主义教育基地) not many people visit, making it one of the few relatively uncrowded green spaces inside the city. photos of my chiwan tour here.