At night the trucks come out. Forbidden before 7pm, yellow dump trucks come rattling out of pits.
Tires are washed as they leave and tracks of mud and clumps of clay trail down the pavement like sentences in Braille, telling of towers to be where there are holes.
Wide shouldered, they barge down the roads, preserving their momentum at all costs. Every night, up in apartments in buildings which the trucks left long ago, you can hear them, engines rasping when empty, clearing their throats when full.
One hot summer day I found a manmade hill behind a wall in Zhujiang Xincheng (New Pearl City), a grass covered ziggurat on a line drawn from Citic Tower in Tian He to the GZ TV Tower on the Pearl.
On top of the hill, looking towards the river and the tower, was a zone that I thought would be a spine of glass and steel and concrete towers.
One day I looked and the hill had been inverted: the trucks had taken it and its subterranean mirror away. Then trucks brought it back, spreading it out thinly across a grey skeleton built in the ground. Ramps pierced the ground and tracks were cut.
Now it is a small part of a park, which swells and diminishes symmetrically along the tower-to-tower line, stretching 1.5 km from river to main road, 350m at its widest. Where there was hill, there is water.
Originally posted June 1, 2011