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Mother River shares her secrets

By Xu Wei (Shanghai Daily)

08:32, April 25, 2012

The fifth episode "Open A New History Chapter"

THE Huangpu River, known as Shanghai's "Mother River," has witnessed the city's growth from a small fishing village to a global metropolis and financial center. It has many tales to tell, from the coolies (kuli) toiling on Shiliupu Dock to the sweethearts who strolled and held hands along Lovers' Wall (qingren qiang).

A five-part documentary series about the Huangpu River, titled "The Huangpu River," is now being aired nightly at 9:30pm on the local Documentary Channel; the 45-minute episodes conclude on Friday. It will be replayed daily for the May Day holiday, starting on April 30 at 4:30pm.

The story of the Huangpu River is very much the story of Shanghai, its cultural heritage and development, says director Xu Guanjun.

It traces the origin of the name of waitan, or the Bund, and kuli, the "coolie" dock laborers.

It also depicts the development of Shiliupu Dock, which dates back more than 150 years and used to be the biggest in Asia.

Most older Shanghainese remember traveling by boat from the shipping hub surrounded by wet markets and produce vendors.

However, the dock declined in the last few decades as other means of transport were developed.

Now it has been transformed into a water tourism center, with a waterfront terrace and leisure facilities.

Landmarks along the river are featured, including the big foreign banking and trading houses and the 1,700-meter-long Lovers' Wall - an important place for hand-holding and snuggling when people lived in cramped quarters with little privacy.

Documentary "Huangpu River"

Through April 27, 9:30pm; April 30-May 4, 4:30pm (replay); Documentary Channel

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