God of Thunder and Rock'n'Roll (archmage) wrote,
God of Thunder and Rock'n'Roll

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Well, Never Mind

I know, I promised pix and commentary from the Shanghai Tunnel Tour yesterday, but looking over the pix, it strikes me that they are very much a "had to be there" kinda thing. They don't really look like much, unless you were there for some reference. So, no pix to share...trust me, you wouldn't be interested.

I will say again, though, that it was a very cool tour, and they have more than one, so we are planning on doing the others eventually. Seems Portland had a rep as "The Unholy City" for a while, since so many men were captured and "shanghaied" here for so long...and it didn't completely stop until 1941. We got to see several of the trapdoors that sent sailors from a peaceful drink at the bar into a tiny holding cell, there to be dunk and drugged until they were sold. Saw an old section of opium den, as well as a few other areas, infamous for the shady dealings that occurred there.

Heard the story of Nynah, who got inside and sent information outside, hoping to stop these practices, and who instead lost her life, murdered (thrown down an elevator shaft) by those same slavers...and whose ghost is said to walk the area to this day. Laughed at the story of Joseph "Bunco" Kelly, probably the most notorious shanghai-er of them all, who always filled his orders and never turned down an opportunity -- this is the guy who managed to sell a wooden cigar-store Indian to one sea captain for even more money than a normal slave brought, and sold nearly thirty dead men to a few others, dead men that Joe had just happened to find, out of sheer luck.

Walking around in these dark and dusty areas gave me a serious sense of history and a feeling of pride...here I was, in a place most people didn't know even existed, let alone could get to. Right above me, I could hear the footsteps of people, blithely going about their business, eating dinner, talking, chatting, not realizing that, just 10 feet below them or so, we were discussing ways that "crimpers" would get rid of a body, and how this city saw the kidnapping and shipping out, illegally, of 1500 to 3000 men a year. Listening to Mike, our guide, telling the story of how he first entered the tunnels at the age of 7, and how he's been all over the city, seen more of these places than nearly anyone alive today, and how they are trying to salvage as much of it as they can in the face of construction, earthquake proofing, and general disuse...it made me wish I could be here more. I wanted to know more. I wanted to see, explore. When the tour was over, I thought "No! There has to be more!" I didn't want it to end. Even though I was having to duck and hunch my 6'3" frame through low ceilinged brick archways, carefully avoiding pipes and cobwebs, stepping lightly, lest I slide in the loose dirt in places...it was countered by marvelling at the things I was seeing, feeling, sensing. Looking over a pile of old shoes, and hearing how the slavers first took your shoes form you, since the floors were covered in broken glass (hence, you weren't running too far if you managed to escape), I could almost hear the crunching of those glass shards, the low lyric of hushed quick voices, discussing money, plans, devious undertakings...

Yeah, it rocked.

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