Pictures of Zhuzhou, Hunan, China.

I spent feb 2004-feb 2005 in Zhuzhou, Hunan, China, teaching english at Zhuzhou Technical University. It was interesting. Here are some pictures I took with a Canon A85 the month before I left.

If you're on PC Press F11 to fullscreen this window. That'll make things look a lot better.

update: jan 4 2008: These pics are old now - most of the construction has been finished, and the place looks a lot better now, at least according to an email & pics I received from my old boss there.

Updated pictures from Zhuzhou (bottom of this page)

A lot of people have misinterpreted this. Particularly the city gov't of zhuzhou. ZZ was great - the students there were friendlier and nicer to me than any others I'd ever taught. I made my first real Chinese friend there. The food was way better than it is here in beijing. I took pictures of the ugly stuff because it was more raw than what you see in beijing. I don't care for the style of "modern" china very much. Zhuzhou's where I first got interested in photography, because every day you would see something interesting. I would love to go back there some day.

Update aug 9 2011: I have added some more pictures I took in zz in 2004-2005, and also added some from a recent trip back. love zz!

Behind the university, a fish pond area

Some China garbage next to the tree (brightly colored undefined plastic bits). It appears in the corners, in drifts. In winter there are lots of interesting shaped trees to go with the white skies. You can click the picture to center it in the page!

Zhuzhou City

Near the school gate. The campus is surrounded by a broken glass-topped wall except for two gates. They like gated compounds here. You can see the typical white tile architecture. Also China style shops - open holes in the first floor of every building. It really gives streets a different feel - you can see inside all the stores and restaurants.

4 years later, it's completely changed.

On the road into the center of town. This is a bicycle rickshaw. I like his sweater. These guys ride all day yet half the time their bikes are in terrible condition - squeaking bent wheels, iron handlebars. 12 cents worth of oil or cloth would make a huge difference if you're pedaling all day. The peasant communal mindset doesn't encourage fixing things up.

Loading a truck with those huge green packages you see everywhere here.

A choke point on the way to town which attracts lots of vendors.

A vendor. He was friendly. I'm not sure about the guy in the background. In China there's no "turtleneck = snob" thing. So to me everyone looks pretentious during winter. Strangely though, "turtle" is like "ass" in english - an animal name converted into an insult. So don't call anybody "turtle-head"!

A little park near there. Wherever you go in Zhuzhou there are parents and grandparents walking around with their kids. They really bundle the kids up, too, except for a huge hole in their pants so they can pee wherever.

A road in town... That's the station up ahead. Most streets are about this hectic, although usually there isn't quite so much driving on the wrong side of the road. Some times of day this road converts to one-way, but nobody's sure when.

The Other Side of the River

An old lady walking around a huge barren construction site, picking up certain kinds of garbage. Nice new apartments in the background.

A nice older building, with a tree growing through it. Most buildings in the city are way uglier than this. Out of the city the buildings look are older and better, and there's less garbage everywhere.

a Hunan red dirt road along the river.

This concrete pond was in the middle of a bunch of vegetable fields. In the lower left you can see it was built in december, 1981. Supposedly it's for storing fertilizer.

All along the river there are huge piles of sand, and boats dredging and sifting. I have heard it's all illegal... nobody's sure.

Chinese construction site. Awesome. Bad fog.

Near my house there is a thin dirt road running between huge fish ponds on one side and small piles of garbage/houses/fish ponds/bottle sorting plants on the other side. They recently rebuilt the canal along this path, which covered the narrow road with a foot of mud that never dried for a few months. That made it tough for all the bike/motorcycle porters who go back and forth on it.

4 years later, construction's done and it's a normal road.

Same place as the last picture, but turned 90 degrees right. For some reason in Zhuzhou all the porters, taxi drivers, and cooks wear suit jackets all the time. Fleeces are the next level up from there, and leather jackets are above that. The white rocks were used to rebuild the canal wall. They'd pick a good sized one, line it up, and push it off the side of the road to fall onto the half-completed wall.

A kid I bumped into along this path. There were lots of them playing in the huge piles of sand. Fun! No labor/workplace safety enforcement has a bright side!

This is the same road, closer to my apartment. Construction attracts a crowd. They were smashing down those trees with no regard for the power lines overhead, and of course all the smoking loungers came over to watch. I saw when they built those pink buildings - first a concrete & steel frame, then red half broken bricks piled to make walls. Then those are covered with tiles which stay clean for about a week. There is almost nothing inside the walls of buildings here... wires and pipes are added later, stuck onto walls and out windows. Also, more China garbage.

Two kids. The white piles on the other side are lime, exposed to the rain.

ok, that's it. I don't live in Hunan anymore...

Some more pictures added 2011:



  1. after a big snowfall.

  1. three men of zhuzhou. by the bridge near the university gate.

  1. dumptruck almost flipping over. I think the driver was a bit surprised at how the truck started to rise into the air!

  1. welding on the sidewalk. I love the sparks!

  1. on the university street during break when nobody was around.

  1. the opening of the new shopping center near zz station.

  1. one of the areas that is much cleaner now.

  1. two workers.

four guys walking below smoggy skies. 2005.

a young boy walking with a plastic flower. 2005.

a bulldozer working in smog. 2005.

a boy and a motorcycle, one foggy night. 2005.

some push carts. 2005

many motorcyclists. 2005

  1. motos from above

  1. sorry for the bad exposure. a train full of identical cars is pretty neat looking.

  1. a really nice family who ran the little store I always went to.

  1. chaotic dirt construction site.

  1. fish ponds & apartment buildings.


  1. girl peeking around a moto taxi driver.

  1. really friendly people in the central square.

  1. near the tunnel.

  1. incredibly beautiful, green canals. this area used to be SO dirty!

  1. zz station.

  1. in the pedestrian underpass underneath the center of town.

  1. red girl

pedestrian flyover in zhuzhou, 2010.

the fish pond is clean now! 2010.

  1. downtown zhuzhou has public dancing every night. it's mostly older people that go, but sometimes you can see a young couple out there. I love it.

  1. futuristic transportation in zhuzhou!

  1. a view west across the main bridge

  1. legs & wheels

  1. discipline ice cream

5.1 celebrations. 2010

2010, a red haired girl walking next to some construction.

2010, a view into one of the new public transportation vehicles all over the university area of zhuzhou.

I've got a flickr account with more pics of zz, and the next place I went, Beijing. http://www.flickr.com/photos/kouchi/

my email is ernestfrench@gmail.com

New pics I received from my old boss:

This used to be a huge garbage filled pit. It looks a million times better now. Wow.

The wall, hedge, and trees are all new. Looks nice.

(Facing the opposite direction). This used to be the mud road. Main street outside the uni is ahead, on the other side of those apartments. I think the canal's on the left from here.

The turnabout is new.

This used to be the hole in the wall shops.