Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Apr 09 2011

To a village

Having gone to bed so early, we got up with the sun the next morning. It was shining in the window over another dilapidated tulou just behind us that I’d missed the night before, huddled among newer, uglier buildings. Before breakfast we walked over to take a look; the round courtyard was full of garbage and stray animals, and only a couple of people lived there, apparently. I wondered if Mr. Lee in fact came from this tulou instead of the one across the stream.

After breakfast, we drove to the “King of the Tulous“, a splendidly restored/maintained structure containing a small city of concentric circles, with lanes in between, around a temple-like structure. Here we could go upstairs, though there was a photographer waiting there to take pictures of tourists standing on the railing. The day was warm and bright, and I wondered what it must have been like to live in such a little castle centuries ago, in one of the upper rooms facing the veranda, with a small window to the outside, one of a huge clan.

We hadn’t planned on hiring a guide, but a local woman kind of “adopted” us with her cheery good manners, a refreshing change from Mr. Li’s complaining about how slow we were. She took us all around the tulou, pointing out the various wells, the school areas, etc. Mr. Li was jealous and took her to task for this when he thought we weren’t looking. She brushed him off, though, taking us to the two adjacent tulous, both square and newer, though still centuries old. One of them was apparently held up by scaffolding, and an old woman who had married into the clan at 60 lived there alone. She had wallpapered her little room in bright blue.

We hiked up the mountain against which the tulous had been built to get a better view of the community. The trail was lined with tea stands. The samples we drank went extremely well with the local peanuts. At the top of the hill, where a pavilion for tourists was being constructed, another young man waited with a camera to take photos of any tourists that came up there. He said we were the first that day. After we talked for a while, mixing Mandarin with Minnan as usual, he said to me, puzzled: “You look like a foreigner. You don’t sound like one, but you look like one.” The others in our group were getting bored with these kinds of statements and said I should just tell everyone that I was a Uighur.

Back at the tulous, we had lunch in one of the newer ones, built only a few decades before. The food was delicious once again, simple dishes like mifen, but very tasty. I wondered if the slightly salty well water had anything to do with the taste.

The drive back towards “civilization” started out nice as we traveled down winding mountain roads, but all too soon we were back amidst the industrial swirl of noxious chemicals, garbage and general nastiness. We stopped at a small fruit stand that featured pitiful specimens only a quarter of the size of those in Taiwan, yet more expensive.

Thankfully, we were headed back out into the country, for our next destination was a small village in a valley called Shanchong. We arrived at the old house-turned hotel in the late afternoon, putting our things away in the modernly appointed rooms. After Mr. Li’s place, it seemed luxurious indeed, with a/c (though it was cool enough without it), TVs, nicely appointed bathrooms and showers. The sound of screaming pigs gave me pause, but I was assured that they were just being pigs, not being slaughtered. At least most of them weren’t.

We walked along the pleasant riverside; the village was also amidst construction/renovation, apparently hoping for tourists. Teens draped themselves across scooters, talking on cell phones. A man led a cow across the road, and across the stream was a field of yellow flowers; women washed clothes in the stream under the huge trees. There were no streetlamps. Dinner was at the first restaurant we came to, and the food was great once again. I’d been worried that the cuisine might be more like Guangdong dishes, which I generally don’t like, but everything so far was delicious.

After dinner we had tea with a middle-aged local man, Mr. Lin, whom we’d met near the hostel. He lived next door and spoke Minnan exclusively until he reached the limit of our language abilities. It was apparently strawberry season in the village, and we ate quite a few as we chatted.

posted by Poagao at 8:34 pm  

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment