This is Rural
Never have we stayed in such a rural place in China before. It’s so cool to be able to stay in a place that has not been very influenced by the big city life. Yes, of course we are dearly missing having access to cheese, coffee, and let’s face it, McDonald’s, in our backyard. However, to be able to look up and actually see the stars filling the night sky is such a difficult and precious thing to find in most places in China.
The people are different herel. First, there are the obvious things like language. The people in this area speak a dialect that is somewhat intelligible to those who speak Cantonese, but I’m assured that it is not the same. However, each town has a slightly different dialect than the next. For example, we visited a friend in a town literally 40 minutes away, and their dialect is very different than the city we’re staying in. Mandarin is also affected by this. Though most people are able to speak Mandarin, it is not their preferred language. I’ve been told by several local people that my “Guoyu” (“China’s Language” – meaning Mandarin) is better than their own – and I have to say that I mostly agree with them. 🙂 When people hear me speak Chinese, they laugh. But it’s not a mocking laugh. Many have never seen a foreigner before – let alone one that can speak Chinese.
Aside from that though, these people are country folk. Their lives are simpler. They are extremely nice and sincere.
The scenery here is different as well. Everywhere you go you see Water Buffalo. Today in the car I couldn’t stop singing the Water Buffalo song by the Veggie Tales. It was funny because everybody DOES have a Water Buffalo! They are used for working the land. These animals are huge. You often encounter them on the road and the cars definitely yield to them. If you hit one of these, the damage will be worse on your car than on the animal. It’s really funny to see these Water Buffalo in the middle medians of the main road eating the grass. I’m told these guys go for about RMB 5000 (USD 775).
Housing styles are different as well. Because it’s so hot here in the summer the houses are built to be cool. But another interesting thing is how the houses are built “up”. The below picture was taken at our friend’s house from his 5th floor…that’s right, 5th floor! Each floor doesn’t have a ton of space, but it sure makes good use of a little bit of property. For our friends, each level belonged to a particular member of the family. Even though they have 3 siblings, 2 of which are married, all of them live in the same house…and it’s actually quite spacious.
Each town’s street market is lively with business. There’s no need here for shopping malls. Everything is done at the market…and probably daily for most families.
One of the most interesting things about this to me is just how close the country side is to the city. This is pretty much true of most cities in China. The word “Suburb” means something else entirely here. Suburb as thought of as an American city practically doesn’t exist. Outside of the city there are no shopping malls, or fast food restaurant chains, or comfortable doctors’ offices…or for that matter, comfortable anything. There’s a strong push for urbanization in China. Part of that push, I believe, is because if you’re not in the city, you’re in the country…and that’s just not hip.