I have a mad crush on rural China. The second I am any where near farms and village houses I literally start salivating in happiness. There is something about agriculture that kick-starts a lust usually reserved for Brad Pitt look alikes. I realize I’m romanticizing a lifestyle that is brimming with poverty and back breaking work but my common sense has little affect on my so-called heart. In other words, I can’t control it. I wouldn’t last two days in a corn field or probably even a backyard garden patch but man am I enamored.
The past two weekends are the reasons for the ranting love affair paragraph above . First, I went on a 15 person staff retreat to Bingyue Guo (Ice Valley), a tiny slice of the South with karst mountains, temples, chilly waters and of course amusement park rides. What, you didn’t know that scenic spots aren’t complete without zip lines and dinosaur statues? Chinese people like to make even the most beautiful things more entertaining. In the evening I sat around a whole charcoal lamb with sad little burnt black eyes singing outdoor karaoke with the Chinese locals. Too much wine and too little food later I had some similar bonding moments with my squatter toilet. Lesson: Don’t drink while taking cold medication on an empty stomach! Despite this, at 6:00am the next morning I woke up and went for a walk, through the cornfields, beside the stone lined streets. It was ice cold, my breath curled up in white vapor matching the chimney smoke and the rising sun lite peek holes through the clouds. It was beautiful, peaceful. I was only three hours outside of Dalian but rural DongBei (north east) China is another world completely. It actually felt like autumn. It smelled like autumn too but autumn smells different here. A slight smokiness mixed with dry corn. The leaves don’t turn bright orange and yellow but a dark red brown that makes the hills look slightly toasted, like bread rising.
This past weekend was a different experience entirely with rural China. We became a little bit more ‘intimate’… got to know each other better that is. Stay tuned for that story when I have the time and energy to get into the complexities of that relationship!