For the past week I have been a scab for USAToday. I haven't actually written anything for them, but just in case the Tangjiashan quake lake bursts, then I should be there to write something up about the ghost towns of Beichuan, Mianyang and Mianzhu and all of the people whose houses and fields have been washed away.
People here are convinced that the Party will save them from any floods. Most people believe that the danger is over and that the lake will not break through its barriers and flood the Chengdu plain. In the foreign media, it seems to be a competition as to who can ratchet up the scariest headline. If the dam breaks, it will affect more than a million people and destroy the cities of Mianzhu and Mianyang.
Meanwhile, me and my man Andreas the Photographer are thinking of working on three different stories, all of them long and drawn out, complex and far-flung, insightful and underreported. We hope to sell them to universities or think tanks...hehehe
In Dujiangyan, we visited the tourist park around the 2000-year old irrigation project. The project itself and most of the works around it are intact and working. The only real casualty is the Two Princes Temple. A Daoist Temple built on the hillside overlooking the irrigation project which honors the Gods of Earth, Water and Sky, gives instructions on how to maintain the project in four-character verse and reveres Li Bing (head of the project back in the day) and his two sons.
Other than the loss of Two Princes Temple, there are cracks and shifts in the park's walkways and walls, but all in all it looks fine. The city hope to have tourists roam through and confirm this starting as early as the 20th of June.
Tomorrow we head back up to Qing Cheng Mountain and do some research on what was destroyed and what not up there. Part of the work is for the Sichuan Quake Relief people, the other part is for a *feature* on the impact of the quake on the tourism industry, from the big tour operators down to the actual sites and further down to Old Wang the innkeeper who ain't got no inn.
I wrote a column for antiwar.com the other day about China -- its kinda rambling, but the point was to A) show that aint nothing changed for the Party and B) there are sad similarities between the CCP and the Republocrats ...
I look forward to Portland and decompression time. my friends there think it will take me a year to un-China myself ...
These next few months will be very trying. Sometimes I wish i could fast-forward through to Portland.