Sunday, June 08, 2008

The Grand Canal

With 5,000 years of history, China is a haven for history buffs like me. As I learn and marvel at the ancient architecture, I am beginning to feel a twinge of pride about my Chinese heritage. This civilisation is part of my DNA and it's been such an exciting journey of discovery.

Last week, I got to spend a couple of days in Suzhou & Wuxi before the start of one of my leadership courses and took a trip on the Grand Canal. It is China's second largest man-made structure (after the Great Wall) and it's a shame that many of us have yet to hear of it. This amazing engineering feat was dug entirely by hand!

Aunty Jo Jo's maiden voyage on the Grand Canal from Suzhou to Tiger Hill

(Excerpt taken from the Lonely Planet - 9th Edition)
The world's longest canal once meandered almost 1800km from Beiing to Hangzhou and is a striking example of China's sophisticated engineering prowess Today, only half of it remains navigable. The Grand Canal's construction spanned may centuries. The first 85km were completed in 495 BC, but the linking of the Yellow River and Yangzi River was undertaken by conscripted labour between AD 605 and 609. The canal enabled the government to capitalise on the growing wealth of the Yellow River basin and to ship supplies from south to north.

Today, the Jiangnan section of the canal (Hangzhou, Suzhou, Wuxi and Changzhou) is the most accessible part of the Grand Canal and still used for delivering supplies (and some tourists!), as it has been for over a thousand years.

No comments: