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to PingTang [Flat-PondMore Detail] County (3rd Sep)
  Today looks like the day I have been longing for ... Well, be prepare for one of the climaxes of my GuiZhou trip.
img_7084s.jpgChang Wang Mian. Mian is noodle. "Chang Wang" together is "prosperous" while "chang" alone also means "intestine". Chinese like playing with words, don't they?

It's a GuiYang style noodle but available also in DuYuen. In a nutshell, it's intestine and chilli. 4x but a little too hot for breakfast.

img_7094s.jpgAfter breakfast, Li Zhu Ren tells me my village home for the coming 2 days is in PingTang county. I am then escorted to PingTang in RASO's 4 wheel jeep.

I have a full brain of expectations when the jeep zooms past hills and small towns. But I also have a feeling that everything is too formal for a backpacker. Will it get better? Only god knows.

  My new home!
Hello my new home at the other side of the river.
Here comes my host, Lao Lin,  skillfully boating himself across the river.
The river in front of my new home. Anything down that way? No need to hurry, got lots of time to find out.
  Li Zhu Ren seems to know the area well. He boats and shows me around and get me orientated for my new home.
The poison of modern civilization has found it's way into innocent villages. Villagers are charmed by the convenience brought by modern gadgets but have no idea what the  leftover can do to the environment.
Villagers are rebuilding their homes but cement bricks are not quite affordable. So they pull sand from the river to make bricks.


Sand bricks.
And the hole they put on planet earth after making their bricks.
img_7123s.jpgFresh from the river. But are you supposed to let go the small ones so that they can have sex and give birth to more fishies?
  Ok, ok. I don't want to be critical all the time. Here comes the good things.
My new home's close-up.
Stone and mud walls of village houses.
My new neighbor is processing corn in front of his house.
Corn is food. The leaves become pig food. The center is burnt for fuel. When you are not plentiful, you can't afford to make garbage.
This dinning room/eating area of the house.
The front room. Red stripes of paper holds places for the families' ancestors.
A chair in front of the front door.

What a thoughtful description.

Looking up at the front door. The worn out piece of white paper has script written on it to keep evil spirits away.
The store room.
Peeking into the store room.

No naked bodies. Too bad.

Rice field in front of the house.
Grandma Lin working on her corn. When was the last time I saw such a hearty smile in cities? That is exactly what I am looking for coming to a remote village.
My new neighbor offers me some chestnuts.
City folks like me doesn't know a ding around here. What is this porcupine-like fruit?
I wouldn't guess right in a million tries. It's the chestnut I am eating.
Shed cases of cicadas. It's a Chinese medicine. 
  Food time.
Grandma is making Tofu.
Mrs. Lin is cooking.
KFC offers chicken in barrels. The Lin family also have rice in that size.
We gather to eat. A pot in the middle and low chairs. First time I eat like this. The fella (male) who has his pants rolled up is Li Zhu Ren. The others are .. ..I will tell you later.
It's that sour fish hot pot again with a big bowl of chilli 2x
on the side. A plate of veggie 2x and a few bottles of beer (highly unusual because beer is too" low voltage" to them) is out lunch.
Corn rice 3.5x. That is a nice twist to the boring rice I eat everyday.

I feel guilty admitting the food is not good at all. But I am not here for gourmet food. I am here to live a village life.

Chinese call you a "rice barrel" when they mean you are stupid.

But at Lao Lin's house, a rice barrel is just a rice barrel. Try to think the simple way in a simple place.

Ok, here comes the standard beverage. Tea? Wrong! It's liquor.

Lao Lin is being gentle he uses a teapot, not a gasoline tank on me.

It's Lao Lin's foot at the back.

img_7213s.jpgWhat happened to lone backpacker Kam?

While the team of officials who escorts me to my new home waits for a boat to retreat, I have a chance to count. 9!!! That is, 3 from DuYuen, 3 from the county, 3 from the town. One of them even carries quilt and bed sheets in case Lao Lin's bed is too dirty. Gosh. I know they want to express their hospitality but they have no idea that is way more attention than I wanted.

  Although I asked Lao Yang for an informal and discreet trip, I don't think I am getting it. Once local authorities are alerted, they simply wouldn't listen to Lao Yang and leave me alone. Never.

What happened to lone backpacker Kam?

  Anyway, they have left after lunch. The last thing they said was "Mr. Leung, we are leaving now and we will be here 9:00am sharp on the 5th to pick you up". 

I can't wait - for them to leave.

I ask Lao Lin if they have left someone to watch me. Lao Lin says no and I am relieved.

Houses in the next village. These are luxurious apartment by their standard.
Houses of wood. Lao Lin's standard.
A few more luxurious apartments.
They still use clay to seal their walls.
  Now I am all alone with Lao Lin. Finally.  

I have no idea how to deal with this new found friend of mine. He is very shy, maybe partly because I am brought to him by a team of government officials, and maybe partly because it's out of respect to a rare friend from Mars. 

In half an hour of orientation conversation, I see again the basic facial expressions that are born with human beings but are later replaced with controlled muscle movements. In a simple place like this, the honest city Kam has all of a sudden become excessively skillful.

Easy, Kam, easy.

  Lao Lin suddenly says "do you want to take a boat up the river?"

Yes! Yes! By all means!

Lao Lin takes his boat up the shallow pebbles.
I am sitting at the front of the boat while Lao Lin is pushing the boat with a bamboo stick at the back.
img_7238s.jpgRiver flows underneath, hills stand tall on both sides. All I can hear is cicada and Lao Lin's bamboo stick going in and out of the calm water. The sound, the rhythm in a sunny warm afternoon, my o my,  is soooo tranquilizing.

Slowly, we move up this beautiful river. For the first time in my travel history, I feel like I have a huge piece of the world all to myself. Oh boy, just this one moment of solitariness is worth the whole trip. 

Rocks on one side .. ..
Rocks below .. ..
Rocks on the other side .. ..
Dragonfly on the boat .. ..
Dragonfly in the water .. ..
  This is not exactly what I asked for - this is MORE than I asked for!

But wait. There is still surprise ahead.

Lau Lin ask me if I want to check out a cave. YES! YES! By all means.
  So Lao Lin pulls the boat up a shallow area and park it. He guides me up a hill and holy smoke!!!
I see this huge natural arch. Without a wide enough wide angle lens, I can only capture this much of the arch. Conservatively, it's about 7 story high.
Lao Lin says "follow me, my friend from Mars."

Just kidding, until now, he still calls me Mr. Leung. More work needed to break the ice.

At the entrance of the cave, we look back at the arch. Wow.
That is the entrance of the cave. Want an idea how big it is? See Lao Lin in the middle right part of the PIC?
According to Lao Lin, if we had torches with us,  this cave can take us to another county in 25 minutes.
If found elsewhere, this cave could have been a huge attraction. But in GuiZhou, this is just another cave. I am looking forward to coming back with torches. But for now, we have to stop at where natural light can reach.
On our way back, we see a free show on the river. That is how villages wash themselves.
On the opposite side of the river next to the road, Lao Lin's village is building new houses. Local government is planning to plant peach trees all over the remote side of the river so that when the trees blossom, they attract tourists. 

Another piece of the original GuiZhou will be wiped out, proudly, by modernization. Shoot.

  More fun after dark.
Grandpa Lin prepares dinner.
It's tofu, chicken and, for sure, chilli. Not seen in the PIC is, of course, liquor.
Frying peanuts for what? Here, we don't chat on ICQ, we chat face to face drinking liquor and eating peanuts.
In the cool night, in dim light, we sit on the wooden chairs and chat the night away.
Boiling water. For what?
img_7310s.jpgLao Lin asks if I want to "wash my feet". But I  scratch my head. Why?

So he follows up. That is a custom of farmers'. Before they go to bed, they wash their feet, and put on a pair of cloth shoes made by their wives.

So what he means is "would you like to retire to bed?".

  Rarely in life that good times last. Today is an exception. It's a long nice day. 

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