Melanie Spiller & Coloratura Consulting
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Letters from China: January 19, 2010
After the little unnamed village, we trekked for six hours across the terraced hills. Again, the porters carried our bags, but this trip was as much down as it was up, so it didn't feel as arduous as the first schlep. In the new village, there is plenty of new construction, and we were very fortunate that the weather cleared and let us take gazillions of pictures. You can't believe the extent of the terraces. It is many generations of work. The people here are called Dazai, and the village is Ping An. I would be very interested to know whether that shows up in a search. Heh. Population must be about 300, all minority people.
Next, we visited Tung Lou village (which means the "long-haired people"). It is occupied by the Yao who want you to pay to show you their hair. We didn't. But postcards revealed that the hair is about ankle length. They comb it to their foreheads and then wrap it around their heads with a knob in the front. It looks like a hat, really.
Then we visited the Dong minority village of Chengyang, which is near the city of SanJiang. SanJiang is kind of unpleasant and dirty, but the little village was very pretty. We were fortunate enough to catch a festival of dances after which they tossed an audience member in the air.
Now, we are in another Dong village, which burst suddenly out of the construction dust as this beautiful oasis of quaintness. Apparently, in the 60s, Chairman Mao and Chou En-Lai visited here because this is the largest Dong collective. There is a photo in the lobby of the hotel showing all the adult townspeople and the two famous men. It's probably a couple of thousand people in a six foot-long photo.
They sure eat a lot of pork here. Everywhere we go, all the dishes have pork put in them--even breakfast! Our leader always has to order something special for me, and the chef looks at me like I must be mad. But I am getting all kinds of interesting greens with ginger and garlic, and egg dishes that make you want to just dive into them (apparently, they put a slosh of chicken bouillon with some salt and sugar into the scrambled eggs, but first they stir-fry up a huge amount of chives and some cilantro and a little green onion. Sometimes, they flip it over to make a frittata, but it's best when just scrambled. Yummy!)
It's nearly time for dinner, so I'd better sign off. I'm having a GREAT time.
From there, we went to another, larger, Dong village, where the local school children couldn't get enough of us. It was fun being celebrities. Today, we took a brutal car ride of three or so hours over the bumpiest road you ever imagined. There is massive construction everywhere, so between the potholes, the piles of brick and sand, and the massive trucks lumbering precariously close to the edges of things, it was not nap time for anyone. :-)