First off, I thought Dagu was the swampy planet where Yoda lived! But no! Apparently it is a gun emplacement that defended Beijing's port city (Tianjin). The website describes it thus:
'The Dagu Kou Forts, also called the Taku Forts... [were] built in 1816 to protect Beijing, the capital of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). As a heroic symbol of China's fight against foreign invasion, the emplacement is considered one of the three treasures of Tianjin by its people.' I'll come back to the last sentence in the quote in bit.
Getting there was fun! We took the light rail from Tianjin station (a bargain at 90p for an hour's journey). I do have to say that if you are ever planning to make a film and need a set for that post nuclear apocalypse scene then the place to come and scout for locations is anywhere along the that journey.
The fun was by no means over. Having left the station we quickly got a taxi for the 5 minute ride out to the fort and the museum. The guy dropped us off outside and pointed over the road to where it was. Unfortunately, 'over the road' meant crossing something the size of the M25! God was it filthy! I think, literally, every second vehicle was a massive lorry transporting coal and leaking dust so the road was covered in a layer a black coal sludge.
The small museum that went along with the Forts is excellent with most things translated into English.
The military significance of the forts is all to do with Opium wars as it was here that the British invaded/landed to reach an agreement with the Emperor re Opium and access to ports and so on. I said I would return to the language of the place and so I shall.
It talks about the valiant Chinese defence eventually being over run. I thought they ran away. It mentions Tianjin being taken without a shot being fired. How was that possible with valiant defenders? My favourite bit was when it talked about the opium trade. Several million ounces of silver were drained from China each year by the British. No mention that this was in return for opium that the Chinese couldn't get enough off.
I'm not saying that this was either side's finest moment, but a little balance please.
Century of National humiliation
There is a reason I am banging on about this. It is really important to understanding China toady. China was 'humiliated' by the British, the Japanese and the West in general. It is only through a united and strong China can this, firstly, be rectified and secondly stopped from happening again. And, guess who can provide that firm leadership and lead China back to its rightful place?
The final part of the museum is this very unsubtle allegorical frieze. It firstly shows China being over run by foreign (British) armies, then brave communists fighting off the imperial yoke, in the picture you can see below these soldiers being watched over by Mao from the Forbidden City.
It then seamlessly segues into modern China with images of birds nest, space travel, buildings in Hong Kong and so on. (apologies for the picture quality on this one.)
It was then out into the cold to look at the actual fort. Looking out, it is not immediately obvious what the fort was defending, I was expecting open sea and an estuary. It could be reclaimed land spoiling that effect. You can also see what a pig of a day we had weather wise. This was definitely fog and not smog for once!
Following a long, cold and wet wait for any kind of taxi back to the station (This place is in the middle of nowhere) we had an excellent lunch.
There were no English menus so we chose something that the table behind was having that looked good and, as an added bonus, it gets cooked from raw on your table. It took a while for the ingredients to come. When they did one of my companions claimed the meat moved. At which we all laughed.... until we realised it was true. The meat was still twitching. We had ordered a massively spicy garlic fuelled hot pot of very freshly culled frog meat. It was, I have to say, fabulous, but was it spicy? Oh yes!
All in all a really interesting day out, but I'm not sure I could be bothered to go back.
This will be a blog about my latest shots and what I liked or was trying to do with them
I am a teacher of Economics and have worked in various schools in Europe & Asia. One of the things I love doing is getting out and about with my camera.