I-7: This Old House - Oh Hai - CycleBlaze

October 31, 2019

I-7: This Old House

Out of everything I posted from the House, the most commented on item was a movie poster for Black Cat Detective (a cartoon that ran from 1984-1987).
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Apparently, Lenovo's warehouse is much closer to Fuzhou than to Hangzhou. Back when I thought that there's was actually the slightest snowflake's chance in hell that Lenovo China would honor my international warranty (because despite grumbling about my magical ability to break expensive things under those exact conditions that required free repair both Asus and Samsung honored their warranties), Hangzhou told me it would take "3-5" days for a new screen to arrive; Fuzhou told me "2-3" days and then it arrived two mornings' later.

I paid for two nights' hotel at the place across the street and had been considering the possibility of moving across town to a couchsurfing host's place instead of paying for a third night. Instead, I get a call while I'm still eating breakfast and I head over toot sweet and get it fixed. Bonus, unlike my previous two laptops (the Asus had the screen replaced once, the Samsung twice), the design on the Lenovo means that I get to keep all my stickers!

Laptop fixed, I go back to the room to pack up and get out. Since I had the bottle bags off when the bike was taken to the bike shop, I do a bit of reorganizing so that everything up front is stuff I want to have with me, which I don't want to send back, and which I almost never need to use. Even though it means that changing a tire (so far no flats this trip) will be even harder, I'm pretty pleased with myself for managing to get the pump squoze in to one of the bottle bags.

A kitchen in the House
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A different kitchen, also in the House
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Upstairs corridor
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The physical structure of the plaster is mostly some kind of hollow reed
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First stop of the morning is the Fuzhou Decathlon. Obviously, I could mend my bike shorts. I've got a needle and thread. The Pearl Izumi pair I have has even been mended once before (possibly with that needle and thread). But I don't feel like it and, as I've been frequently doubling up with a super lightweight pair of shorts ever since I discovered how much easier it made my daily laundry, I've been able, up til now, to manage by strategically wearing one regular pair of bike shorts (with holes) and one underwear weight pair of bike shorts (with holes in different places).

I buy another pair of underwear weight shorts, a pair of regular shorts, a squeaky unicorn, and bar ends that end up being determined not to fit my handlebars after I've tried to install them and gotten them into a scratched up and unreturnable condition. (I could have tried to return them but it would have been an asshole move.)

I get some nice snaps that you'll have to imagine (because my camera lets you take pictures without a memory card inserted) of a handful of old looking buildings near the Jiefang Road Bridge as well as some stealthy shots of an otherwise mundanely dressed woman in comically high high heels riding a bike with her heels on the pedals. There was also a church and some definitely old buildings being rehabbed, the waterfront, a bridge to a park, a view across the water of a Mazu Temple, the usual sorts of interesting things like that.

Luckily, I also took a picture with my phone to share on WeChat
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All sorts of cruft is scattered about ranging from random things of historical interest (like the owner's father's collection of movies from when he worked for the Bureau of Culture and traveled from village to village showing movies) to garbage (scattered remains of the inventory of a cousin's attempt at a shop 10 or 15 years ago).
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Lattice overlooking the main hall
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Other lattice overlooking the other side of the main hall
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During a late lunch, I start poking around at the maps to figure out my best likely destination for the evening as well as secondary and tertiary options. Then, after a bit more time spent studying the map so that I'd have some idea of where I was and where I was going and wasn't 100% trusting what the voice told me regarding lefts and rights, I was off.

I made it almost the whole way out of the city too.

But I saw this warehouse looking building that was definitely old. Could have been a factory. Big rectangular thing. Not very many windows with the windows it had being small and mostly shuttered. Sitting in, of all places, a big green parklike bit of landscaping alongside the road.

I ignored the insistent recalculating and the instructions that I get back on the road and followed a bit of a rubble strewn dirt driveway up onto the landscaping and into a modern brick plaza in front of the warehouse factory historic building which, frustratingly enough, had a sign stating it was a recognized historic building and nothing else.

Exterior of the House
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This picture with a brief history of the House appears to have been taken when the modern buildings surrounding it were all knocked down and converted to parkland.
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Drinking tea
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Central lattice from above
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The outer latch was open but when I pushed on the door to poke my head in at the ruins that were probably within, the inner latch was locked! So I went back to taking pictures (including a panorama that doesn't exist) of the outside and was just about ready to go when someone came and opened the door.

No one has lived there for the last three years but the family member who ownership officially fell to has been in the habit of using it as his hangout place to sit and drink tea with friends. He's also somewhat lackadaisically doing some cleanup of decades of detritus and repairing the things that are desperately in need of repair (like rotted out window frames). In theory, the house is supposed to be sold to the government some time this month to be made into a museum but they still haven't gotten the paperwork to him and he refuses to officially move out until he has actual paperwork in hand.

Built in 1907, the house has two courtyards and more rooms that I could easily count (as it's a bit of a maze). Satellite view puts it at 37 meters by 24 meters so, even with the giant courtyards, the two storeys plus a basement put it at least 900m² of living space. He says his grandfather (or was that great-grandfather?) who built the house had 7 sons and 1 daughter and that most of the families lived in the House.

Looking at the entryway from the main hall
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In a room that was used as a school (not sure if school room or dormitory) for a while, a small poster about limitless devotion to the great leader Chairman Mao, limitless devotion to Mao Zedong Thought, and limitless devotion to Chairman Mao's Revolutionary Line!
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Scars of the Eight Immortals
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Vandalized door
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Born in 1962, he's not quite old enough to remember when the main hall had carvings of the Eight Immortals Crossing the Ocean but, for the major pieces like that, he can point out the scars and tell me exactly what used to be there.

By the time tea has been drunk and the House has been photographed, and explored, and photographed again (including one room with intact carvings which are so special and so valuable and so worth stealing should the wrong person hear about it, that he actually waits until his other guests leave and locks the outer door before taking me to see it), it's obviously late enough that I'm not leaving Fuzhou tonight. 

(I got photos of the intact carvings. The light was terrible. The photos aren't very good. And given the decades' long fear that they be taken, I wouldn't share them even if they were good photos.)

My possible couchsurfing host has contacted me though to ask what I'm up to, and, as he actually lives relatively nearby, I go meet him for dinner. Since I eat noodles every day, I convince him to go to a real restaurant next door to the noodle shop he suggested because while Muslim noodles are all fine and yummy, I want a normal meal. 

Rafter dragonfish
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A crib underneath what was once a mobile
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A marriage certificate from 1963 that looks more like a Ketubah than a modern Chinese marriage certificate
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A once mended but again broken pottery jar
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It turns out to be an absolutely terrible restaurant though. The scrambled egg with bits of dried turnip, for example, appears to have had the turnip and the egg separately fried and then jumbled together on the plate.

Then back to his place for laundry doing and more tea drinking (he makes an herbal tea that turns the water bright blue) and storytelling and, eventually, sleep. 

This would have been the House's library
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Today's ride: 22 km (14 miles)
Total: 1,444 km (897 miles)

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