Taoping Village & the Wenchuan earthquake, 2008.

I’ve just arrived back from a wonderful small trip. I took two days off work for it, for good reason; it only cost m 150yuan. Or about 22euro. For this, it included: 1 breakfast, 2 lunches, 1 dinner, transport, accommodation for 1 night and two entrance tickets to a village and a town. All that!! So of course, I really couldn’t let that deal pass. It was supposed to be about 390 yuan, but the Uni paid the rest. So it was great value.

We left Friday morning at 8:40 and headed north west and out of Chengdu. Here, there are no cities, no tall buildings, much less pollution, and not many people. Oh and plenty of mountains. Chengdu has literally no mountains.

So we headed to a village called Taoping. it belongs to the Qiang people, a small ethnic group in China. It has a history of over 2000 years. I think the architecture is beautiful, very unique.

The visitor sight heading to the village.

                                                       The visitor site heading to the village.

Inside one of the houses, they would put on a big fire.

                                          Inside one of the houses, they would put on a big fire.

A beautiful view of the surrounding area.

A beautiful view of the surrounding area.

The two watchtowers on the left.

                                                     The two watchtowers on the left.

The main watchtower.

                                                                   The main watch tower. 

After that, we travelled to another small town to our hotel, where we stayed there for the night. The next day we headed to a town called Wenchuan. People may be familiar with this name. This was where the terrible 2008 earthquake hit Sichuan. Wenchuan was really badly hit. There were about 12,000 people before it. And after, there were about 6,000 people. The town was literally destroyed. When we visited everything has been rebuilt again, but they decided to leave a high school untouched after the disaster. Now it is a tourist site Before the earthquake, the town was mainly an agricultural town, but nowadays it deals with tourism.

The front building where many of the students where at the time of the earthquake.

The front building where many of the students where at the time of the earthquake.

This front building was where many of the students where, and a lot of them died here. This was a 5 floor building that was used as classrooms. Some bodies still remain underneath as they couldn’t retrieve them. The clock shows the time when the earthquake hit, 2:28pm. This was when the students would have been in class.

Do you see how the steel railings are curved as the building collapsed onto it.

         Do you see how the steel railings are curved as the building collapsed onto it.

We were wondering were the railings put there after the earthquake, but we quickly realised that they were there when it happened. The stairs on the right show where the building fell from. This was the main escape route for the students, and it has withstood the earthquake.

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The front building grazed this one as it fell.

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When I saw this second building I thought ‘wow this one wasn’t as badly damaged’. Then the guide told us that it actually has 5 floors and not 4. The first floor collapsed from the weight of the top 4. Sadly, there was a male student that was killed here. He was the only student there. He was on the 3rd floor but went down to the first to escape. It’s there, when the floor collapsed. His body is still there as again, they couldn’t retrieve it.

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Another completely destroyed building.

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You can just about see the rim of the first floor window at grass level.

The stairway from the first building.

                                                        The stairway from the first building. 

After the earthquake, the people wanted to preserve this, so they erected the steel pillars so they will keep the building steady. On the right, you can see that the green pillar from the original building has been damaged, you can see the bars.I’m sure it would fall down easily!

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This third building, there was a class going on. When It happened, their teacher held the door up for them so that his students could escape. Sadly he died (body not recovered), and his little baby died also in the earthquake.

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They built these so the building wouldn’t fall completely.

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From what our tour guide said, this area didn’t actually have as many victims! This was one of the places that had the least, which I was surprised about. If this is the damage from one area, I can only imagine the catastrophic damage seen throughout the small town. When I saw the school, it reminded me of Orlando Studios. I visited when I was young, but we have videos. In it, there is a clip when we were queuing for the ride ‘Twister’, you know, that old film about a twister in America. I remember they made the buildings, outside the attraction, to be damaged, lob-sided and of course, like a twister had hit it.

And then I see the real thing here. It was extremely eye opening, how so much damage can be caused. Now when I hear of an earthquake that’s just happened, I’ll remember back to when I visited Wenchuan, and how deadly and catastrophic they can be.

Aisling.

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