Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/107

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
103
A VISIT TO THE HANGCHOW BORE

succeeded in managing them so well. Curious foot-boats here take the place of the slipper boat so common in the Canton Delta as a rapid passenger craft. They are long narrow affairs and owe their name to the peculiar fashion in which they are propelled. A single boatman sits in the stern and yulows, or wiggle-waggles a large tail oar, and at the same time operates a long oar slung over the starboard side, by means of both feet placed on the inner end—one on the round handle of the oar, and the other on the flat side of a good-sized wooden block attached to the oar-end at right-angles. These boats carry passengers, mails and parcels between the intermediate places not served by the launch-trains or on the side canals.

On both sides of the canal, especially near Kashing, fine granite memorial arches and several pagodas stand conspicuous, having escaped or baffled the destroying hand of the Taipings, though most other things in this region suffered woefully. At one turning point we noticed three graceful pagodas standing side by side.

But the most frequent and most notable feature encountered during a trip on these canals is the really wonderful series of bridges under which the traveler passes. Wooden bridges, granite bridges, crude bridges, artistic and picturesque bridges, dilapidated bridges and bridges in good repair. Bridges with sloping approaches and high curving arches, bridges with one arch or with several, all devoid of prominent keystones. Bridges crowned with shops or pavilions. Bridges whose sides are covered with verdant vines and with small trees clumped at either end. Bridges from the tops of which expectant fishermen let down the great umbrella net and blame the passing boat for the non-appearance of a decent "catch." Bridges which sometimes by their massive piers and narrow arches so reduce the waterway and increase the stream's flow that the spice of danger is added for the voyager whose craft may be a little over normal size. Later, while returning from a side trip to Mokanshan on a dark and rainy night, the cabin loft for servants at the rear of the house-boat we were using was almost completely demolished by crashing into the corner of one of the side arches of the bridge at Dongsi.

On some of the straight stretches of the canal as many as three bridges were sometimes seen from a single position, for every village must have its bridge, and settlements are so frequent that a canal is a veritable "stringtown on the pike." When the canals pass through towns and villages, the natives seem to exercise their best ingenuity in obstructing the already narrow space to the utmost passable limits, by building overhanging porticos and pavilions or by mooring their craft on either side without regard to the resulting constriction. In many cases these bridge arches have more than a half-circle of opening and are fine examples of the stonemason's art and skill. With regular and