Kung fu Cadillac: Wudang Mountain's wonderfully bizarre cars

Lifestyle, Culture, Travel | by Stephan Larose
Posted: June 9th, 2010 | Updated: July 13th, 2012 | Comments

A Jetsons-style communist cadre coupe?

When thinking about Wudang Shan, the first thing that pops into people's minds (if they even know about the place) is probably not "cars." They might think Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, tai chi, or even the Wu-Tang Clan (the RZA and Ol' Dirty Bastard got the name for the hip-hop crew from the film Shaolin and Wu Tang). But three-wheeled pedi-cab with reverse-opening Lamborghini-style doors? Probably not. Well, we're here to change all that. It's a bizarre trajectory, but it's one you almost can't help but fall into. If you're like me, you go to Wudang Mountain to film a documentary about the rapid commercialization of the area's Taoist/kung fu culture and the much-reduced, audience-friendly Disney-esque final product that lies at development's inevitable end. You interview monks, you photograph temples, you summit mighty peaks, you shoo mating monkeys from atop your filming equipment and traipse happily through river valleys... but eventually, you end up back in town. It's there that the city's ramshackle roots and lovable small town soul are on display for all to see. On the mountain you'll find crumbling old temples and shiny restorations, yes. But in town, you'll see the faces of people who lived in mud-walled huts not 15 years ago, just about the time the appearance of the first paved road signaled the coming of major changes. And though the buildings that have sprung up around them have changed the face of the city indelibly (and seemingly overnight), the faces of Wudang's people, and the hopes animating the smiles that light them, change little and retain much of the past. And for some odd, and one whimsically hopes, sentimental, reason the same has gone for their cars. You'll definitely spot an Audi or two, and a good gaggle of shiny new buses, but as the pictures below show, if you are wandering downtown between hikes to Purple Heaven Palace and Tianzhu Peak you'll find an amazing assortment of interesting vehicles, some looking as circus worthy as they are ingeniously improvised.  So be you a car afficionado or not, you'll find entertainment simply stopping at a corner for an hour and enjoying the sights proffered by that magic carpet we commonly refer to as traffic... enjoy!

Your typical Wudang Mountain taxi

The Wudang all-purpose, long-haul, 150cc semi moped truck

The luxurious El Camino-class 150cc sport utility-ped

Check out this Wudang Mountain taxi 's rakish reverse Lamborghini-style doors--and in racing yellow, no less.

Agricultural locomotive power: pre-industrial push cart vs. post-tiny-baby-step into the industrial era mini-tractor.

Derelicte! A car that Ben Stiller character Derek Zoolander might have driven during the Mugatu phase of his career. Notice the convertible feature on the cab, special touches like that don't come cheap!

You got a license for that? Hauling steel on a motorbike, just another perk of the less stringent regulatory atmosphere that prevails here.

Though in the West, "hybrid" refers to something a little different, clearly this vehicle is an ingenious hybrid incorporating design aspects from both the luxurious El Camino-class 150cc sport utility-ped and the improved aerodynamics door-less Lamborghini-style door micro-taxi-ped. Now that's innovation!

Meals on wheels! There's no engine powering these wheels, but they deserve inclusion for the beautiful practicality they offer the common hungry man, woman and child.

More Wudang Shan content on ChinaTravel.net Features: Wudang Shan: Kung Fu with a Sweet Mountain View Forum Posts: Wuhan to Wudang Shan? Wudang Shan: Hiking Zhenwu's Peaks Stephan Larose's Wudang Shan Photo Diary: Daily Life Travel Guide: Wudang Shan All pictures by Stephan Larose.
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