article by Cherry Cai

Over the Christmas break, I went back to my homeland—–China. The city my family lives in is called Ningbo. It’s not the kind of city that is usually a tourists’ destination, but it still has many fun and exciting things to see.  The Gulou, or drum-tower, is one of the places which draws me back again and again.

Many cities in China had a Gulou, and there are just a few of them remaining today. These kinds of buildings had their own important position in ancient Chinese towns. In peaceful years, drummers went onto the buildings and drummed to tell people the time. During times of war, soldiers went on the buildings to detect the enemies. The Gulou, in Ningbo, has served this city for over 1100 years. I need to say “thank you” to my ancestors for its existence. Today, what is behind the gate of the Gulou is a long commercial pedestrian street; the products those stores sell are usually some interesting handmade crafts.

History and daily life seem to blend together very well in that place. If you want to have a meal in a restaurant, there are many choices.  If you want to hang out with friends, there are many places to choose from on the street, or if you want to do some shopping, there are many options. I know it may not be the best way to carefully protect antiquities, but I still want those ancient buildings to be left alone for many generations to admire. Sitting in a coffeehouse, lifting your head from a fashion magazine and looking outside, you see the cornice of the one thousand-year-old architecture. You may somehow think of the names of past dynasties, of a great or failed emperor, or their beautiful mistresses…… Life is so enjoyable!