The Hun River
The Hunhe or Hun River looks like a little river on the maps of China, even on the maps of Liaoning, and I had seen the brown waters from the comfort of my speeding taxi on the way in from the airport. I have this thing about rivers, and whenever I visit cities with a river, I always end up on the bank for a walk. For most Chinese cities – as with many other cities in Asia – rivers have yet to become a desirable urban feature. Even in cities like Seoul and Brisbane, the riverfornts have only begun to develop in recent decades.
However, the Hun River at Shenyang has to be one of the foulest rivers I have come across in China, and that is saying something. Getting to the riverside was a major task involving crossing several six-lane divided highways, four highway slip roads and then joining a long gaggle of cyclists crossing the bridge after a long day at work. I began to regret my determination to see the Hunhe, as my nose gradually detected its presence long before there was any visible evidence I was close.
The fetid stench grew stonger as I approached, but I had diced with death too much crossing the highways to give up without seeing it. I made it onto the end of the bridge, where, 6 metres below, the swollen brown river stank its way past Shenyang. Whether this is a river or a unique chemical mixture could not be determined, but it did make me wonder where on earth it gets so polluted, given that there is not much industry upstream of Shenyang other than the city of Fushun.