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Yanhe is a small town with a population of approximately 28,000 and is located on the Wu Jiang (river) in the north east of Guizhou Province. The main part of town where most of the shops and busineses are found is on the steep slopes of the west bank. For this reason the main streets tend to traverse roughly parallel to the river steadily climbing before changing direction to reach higher levels.

A typical Yanhe street (left) .............................. . A large flight of steps rises up beneath the buildings (right)

The more affluent shops and hotels are towards the north of the town and the busy pavements along the main shopping street are fenced from the road for safety with gaps at intervals. Alongside the river itself is a relatively new promenade that runs along the top of the huge stone embankment walls. Steps lead down between the houses to a sunken street filled with vegetable and food stalls and lined with many colourful umbrellas.

Market alley (left) .............................................................................................. Main Yanhe market (right)

At the far end is a small chicken and duck market. At a few places the promenade is linked to the streets behind by small bridges which lead onto the quieter end of the main shopping street. A wide and tall flight of steps climbs steeply and impressively between large buildings to the next level however there are also many small flights of steps at various points that pick their way up between the appartments. Below the promenade the mud and rocky river banks are lined with many river craft designed with flat bottoms to negotiate the river at low flow. Out on the water there are many rocky reefs which must be carefully navigated and these create nasty standing waves and eddies. These boats provide a useful taxi service for local people who live in the surrounding villages. Also along the banks local fishermen tend multiple fishing rods and their lines stretch out into the ebbing waters.

River boats and anglers on river banks beneath the town

The river is crossed by two road bridges at either end of town and due to the large fluctuations in river level, huge reinforced dry stone walls made from big blocks are being laboriously constructed with tower cranes along both river banks to protect the town buildings. This significant engineering project already stretches for hundreds of metres either side of town. 7 kilometres to the south is another large construction project to build a dam. The river has been partially claimed back with a long concrete wharf that has been engineered along its centreline. The slopes on either side have been excavated and quarried back to soud bedrock and then reinforced with tie bars and concrete. Two high level but temporary suspension bridges allow traffic across at this location one at a time!

Dam construction site north of Yanhe

The east bank of the river is far less developed although a main road with shops and businesses does run roughly parallel to it but well inland. From the main part of town a large cemetery occupies the hillside on this side of the river.

The river defences protect Yanhe

Yanhe's bridge in the south part of town

From Yanhe the Wu Jiang flows through a limestone gorge about 9km kilometres north of town and continues northward toward Chongqing where it meets the Yangtzee.

An impressive gorge cuts through the limestone hills north of Yanhe