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Beiwu follow-up 9: a well-earned rest

July 24, 2012

the newly built Beiwu Jiayuan

a street corner of the old Beiwu village, as it used to be

the old village site is now a park

Beiwu’s Big Change


Source: Beijing Daily

This, this is Beiwu?

Stopping at the Beiwu village intersection, this reporter stared blankly.

At the foot of Yu Quan Hill, the old and shabby village remembered from two years ago was nowhere to be seen. As far as one see, there were trees and luxuriantly green vegetation, the clear blue water of the lake, a vibrant thriving summer day.

“You are looking for Beiwu village? It is now changed into something called Beiwu Jiayuan!” Following a passerby’s direction, I went to the western side of the old village site, and found a modern residential complex.

“Welcome again to Beiwu!” waiting for me at the north entrance was the party branch assistant secretary Guo Yuming, already from afar enthusiastically stretching out both hands in welcome.

When you enter Beiwu Jiayuan, if you don’t look closely, you would take this to be a residential complex of the very highest quality. There are 34 buildings, six stories high, all the same in appearance, with reddish brown tiles, elegant and graceful. Gingko and London planetrees on both sides of the road add a lush green touch.

“Come, take a look at my house.” Hearing that the reporter had returned to Beiwu, 60 year old Guo Guiming enthusiastically invited me. Her family had two residential units of 85 square meters. “I made sure to request the top floor. There’s another 40 square meters above, under the roof, that could easily be made into a small loft,” she said, letting a little pride slip out.

Taking the elevator up, we entered the living room, spacious and bright. Through two open doors there was a large refrigerator, a 46 inch t.v. and, on the wall was a 4 character phrase, “flower opens wealth and rank.” Most unique was the terrace. Before a glass window that dropped to the floor there was a tea table, with several types of tea to try. “These days, I have the free time to spend sampling teas,” she says, smiling. Guo Guiming had permed her hair to have a slight wave, she wore a black-green knit blouse with a string of pearls, on her face was a relaxed smile –at first glance, she had taken off some years, she hardly looked sixty.

“I always liked beautiful things, but in the past in the village it wasn’t possible to wear them. The coal ash in the air was bad enough.” She said the hardest thing about living in a one story house in the village, was the cooking in the winter. Every household compound had rental units, and the smallest room used at least seven or eight thousand catties of coal during the winter (1 cattie =500 grams), and many used as much as 10, 000! There was too much to store in one’s compound, so some was piled out on the road. When they finished  cooking people threw out the coal ash, and the wind whipped it up, and it made everything dirty!

Now they all cook with natural gas. “In the beginning I was afraid to use it, thinking it was too expensive. But after a while, what do you think? I moved in here in the eleventh month of last year, it was just the time the central heating was turned on. Until the 3rd month I did not use the heating, and when I calculated what I had spent for the winter it was 800 yuan, whereas I used to have to spend seven or eight thousand for coal.”

Her days pass by in beauty. She loves to stroll in the park. “No need to go elsewhere, when I can go out my front entrance and roam in Beiwu Park!”

This Beiwu park she speaks of, is on the site of the old Beiwu village. The village was turned into a public park and green zone, with a total area of 300,000 square meters. The day this reporter returned was a nice day, the wind was clear, the clouds light, Beiwu park at one edge connects into Yudong park. The whole area is fresh and green, making one feel happy and carefree.

In the plan, Beiwu park is divided into an east and west section.  The western part is already finished. There are flowering trees, wandering paths in thick vegetation, beautiful scenery. Besides this, there are also places for sports and exercise, such as basketball and pingpong.

“Living in a place like this is something I previously never dreamed would be possible.” With a happy sigh Guo Guiming said, I hope to live twenty more years, thirty more years, so I can enjoy a well-earned rest in this comfortable nest.”

konjaku: Gu Qinglin, chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultive Conference, visited Beiwu Jiayuan on 2011-02- 16. He inspected the whole residential complex and visited a villager family at their home. (Xinhua net, photo by Ma Zhancheng)

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