"Shan Bei" and other villages.
Trip Start Aug 05, 2011
101Trip End Oct 08, 2012
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The first trip is composed of two bicycle rides around Yizhou with my new friend and co-worker who seems to enjoy finding new villages as much as I do. I prefer to ride with a buddy just in case something goes wrong, but I have been known to explore solo when "buddies" are not available. I do pack a tool kit and phone most of the time I'm out there.
The second trip was a bus trip to the mythical village of "Shan Bei"
The grumpy boatman initially wanted 600 kwai for the three hour trip, which is a months salary for most of the locals, but our Chinese co-worker bargained him down to a mere 150 which is only a weeks salary. He also bitched and moaned about how heavy we were but we failed to feel sorry for him. At one point I had to jump out and help him pull the boat up some rapids. I have a lower opinion of Chinese boat pushers than I do the taxi drivers. So we enter this giant cave with a ceiling at least 100 feet higher than the water and threaded our way about one kilometer through the darkness and finally out the other side.
Once on the other side we walked past the village and then though some jungle and bamboo forests, and into another cave where we were led on an interesting hike through a cave and were able to inspect the various stalag-formations which were most interesting. The guide (old farmer woman), was in far better shape than the rest of us. She walked up and down the myriad of stairs in near darkness with the grace of a deer
The village was just a few old houses surrounded by fields which were watered by ancient stone aquaducts built long long ago. As we gathered around on tiny stools in her living room the cave guide/farmer woman served up a big bowl of corn porridge and ground up some garlic/squash/peppers, much like they eat in the American Southwest. I could have been in some Kiva near Taos eating the exact same thing. After eating three bowls of the excellent fare and complimenting the elderly woman on her home and village, our Chinese co-worker jokingly suggests that I stay the night. I agreed that I could live in such a paradise and I wasn't joking at all. My love for farm village life is a great love but there is absolutely no way a foreigner could be accepted as a permanent resident especially with a lack of language ability. Oh well, I must be content to admire these ancient places as an outsider: and I have thousands of local villages that I can easily admire from my current location.
I will keep this one short again and just let the pictures do the talking.