My Week Four

Trip Start Aug 21, 2008
Trip End Nov 2008

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Flag of China  , Guangxi Zhuang,
Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I am back in Yangshuo.  Started the week with the Mid-Autumn Festival.  It is a time when families gather.  A Chinese Thanksgiving.  It occurs at the harvest moon on the lunar calendar.  The myth behind the celebration is about a love story.  One of the traditions is to eat Moon Cakes.

The 49 Juice Bar decided to have a picnic on the island in the middle of the river.  We invited some friends and people who are away from home and can not get back.  We all had a great time.  Especially the kids.  We made enough food for a small army so some of the people from other parties would come by and join us from time to time.  We ended the evening with some fireworks.  The town of Yangshuo is packed this weekend no rooms at all.

We were invited to Arden house for dinner.  Arden is a local tour guide and his wife works at the hotel next to the juice bar and his sister in law works at the juice bar.  He lives a  miles outside of town.  First they said we would walk there but then they decided they would be kind to me and let my ride.  It was more like several miles outside of town. I rode with Arden's wife since he was already at the house preparing dinner.  It was a thrill ride, typical Chinese traffic.  Two lanes, each direction but no one seems to care about that. Once you get out on the country roads it is even more beautiful.  Arden rarely invites people out to is house so I felt very honored.  We arrived a little early so we decided to take a look around the village.

 It is one of the oldest villages in the area and his house is one of the oldest in the village.  Unique architecture.  On the edge of town is a sign with 10 of the most significant things to see in town.  Problem was it was all in Chinese.  I told him he should have that translated for the foreigners. I did discover that the village has a famous well and a famous garden with a lily pond.  We met the owner of the garden who gave use a tour.The village is a popular spot for newlyweds to come and get their pictures taken.  I guess in china it is not bad luck to see the brides dress before the wedding.  While we were there a van pull up and the wedding party poured out with photographers and started setting up for a photo shoot.   

We got the call dinner was ready.  We headed to Arden's house.  Down a little alley to a modern home not quite finished.  I was at first a little disappointed.  But this new three story house was the new addition for Arden family, his brother's family and their parents.  Before dinner they took us through to the old house which was kind of here and there.  As walls came down they just made it into gardens.  In the back was the original house.  Arden told me that his family has lived here for over 600 years.  However since he and his brother were doing well they decided to build the new addition.  This is very common, little by little the old building are disappearing.  However in Arden's case he wants to preserve parts of the old home.  One think I did not understand is with all the modern facilities in the new building the only bathroom was the old one outside the old house and the only water was still hand pumped from the old well at the old house.  As we were walking around Arden's mother was still bringing in things from the garden to eat.

We all sat down for dinner.  It was fantastic.  The main dish was "Beer Fish"  a local delicacy.  I am not a big fish eater but is was really good.  The rest was a typical farmer's meal lots of fresh vegetables.  I know they were fresh I saw them being brought in.  We had a wonderful evening.

I must have just made some sort of list I was invited to two more dinners.  However I could only go to one.  It was with some of the workers at the hotel.  They live in a small village up river about a 20 minute walk.  Once again it was an old farm home and a modern one side by side.  Again although the modern one is very modern it is basically a two story home with bedrooms and a living room.  The bathroom is still outside and the kitchen this time is still in the old house. 
After dinner in the old house we all moved over to the new house to watch the closing ceremony of the paralympics.  All the chinese I know watch the paralympics as much as they did the olympics.

Yesterday the school just a couple of doors up from my hotel open.  It is an English school.  The headmaster asked me to come and teach there but I had to decline.  She had told me she was going to have a lot of students coming very soon and needed more teachers.  She was right.  About 140 young adults from Hanian, an island province off the coast of China, arrived.  At first I thought a small army must be coming.  A couple of truck loads of beds arrived.  The a couple of bus loads of kids.  Last night as I sat at my spot on the river a few of the students came by and of course they must speak to any foreigner they can fine.  Out of 140 there are only 11 guys. So the ratio I have seen all along seems to continue.  I asked why and they just laughed.  I invited them to come by the 49 Juice Bar any time they were free.
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