If Chenzhou is a work in progress, provincial capital Changsha is a recently opened jigsaw scattered across the floor. I am here purely for a one day visit but I misunderstood my environs and in seven hours I barely scratch the surface of Wuyi Square (the cities main shopping district) and Tangerine Island – literally the centrepiece in the Xiangjiang River but I don’t make the statue of youthful Mao at the southern tip before I am forced to turn back to the metro and in turn the south railway station. For fear of how long it will take (I thought it was an hour but again time ran rings around me) my evening meal in town is aborted in favour of returning to said station in time. I have heard of a decent pizzeria near south station but the proprietor has her phone switched off, which means either overpriced fast food or finding something of interest at the bakery, always a game of chance as Chinese cakes can have anything from red bean to pork floss to egg in the middle. My gamble pays limited dividends, no pork floss at least.
As mentioned in my last post, Chenzhou isn’t the most walkable city though compared with Changsha it’s a lesser known utopia! Changsha is not only experiencing growth skywards but in its metro system. Two lines are open with around four under construction. All of this means that getting from point A to B can present some pain in the cranium! Many of the central city streets are barricaded off – inevitably they have to build it, but an otherwise simple walk can turn into more minutes eating up more time. Something else sadly evident is more beggars. Some praying to the ground, others with horrific burns. Part of me wonders what the story is, how did they end up so badly injured. Above all I wish I could help but the cynic sees only the hidden gangs profiting from these unfortunate souls. And possibly as startling, was this the future of Chenzhou?