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PingTang (4th Sep)
 
  Expecting more today .. ..
 
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Steaming noodle in the morning. 
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Don't forget to fill the bowl with chilli soup.
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Ok, I see an alternative transportation for crossing the river.
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Lao Lin leads me walking up the road a couple of miles to see a school in their village.
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A "village" consists of several "groups" of about 10-20 families each. They spread a few miles along the road, or into the hills.
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Lao Lin is the head of his "upper river group". As we walk up the road, he says hello to everybody everybody.
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Just when I think I am taking a good PIC, I find my index finger at the upper left corner of the PICs. Sigh.
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I love everything I see along the road.
 
  After an hour's walk, we reach the office of the village. Here I meet the head of the village (HOV), Chen, and the communist party's secretary (the top guy) of the village (can't remember his name ).
 
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With a camera in my hands, crossing the river on this wobbly logs is a real challenge. 
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Chen leads us into the hills where the school is. He is carrying a bag of corn with him.
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And on we go .. ..
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Hi horsey.
 
  In just 15 minutes of walk into the hills, I see more of GuiZhou's people.
 
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Above a slope, I see someone working.
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Farming in GuiZhou is extremely hard. Looking from an airplane is one thing, seeing it at close range is another. I can feel the hardship.
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Cow-boy junior?
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Working hard to make the day.
 
  Talking about footwear .. ..
 
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Lao Lin is waling like breeze in front of me.
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Lao Lin is doing rock climbing.
img_7359s.jpgThis is Kam's foot with slipper assigned by Lao Lin.

Yes, slippers. We walked, boated, caved, climbed, ate in these slippers all the time. They work so well that I start to doubt if I need a pair of hundred dollar Nike for sport's sake.

 
  We reach the education point located deep in the hills. This point is for kids from the village. Even if kids can afford to pay for school, they may have to walk miles to school. It's not easy.
 
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That is the full view of the education point. 2 classrooms and 1 staff room.
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Making use of the penthouse, they have  another classroom.
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Kids, let's have a quiz. Who is from Mars and like to take pictures? The name starts with a "K".
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The back of the school.
  No body ever mention it but I can sense that Lao Lin is asked by local officials to bring me here. They think I might be able to help rebuilding this education point. Well, they didn't know I am not as grand as my grandpa. I am just a lone backpacker.

But anyway, I ask Lao Yang later whether this education point should get help from grandpa's education fund. Lao Yang asks back "is this structure collapsing?" "No." "We have other schools that needs immediate help."

Ok. I get it.

 
  Chen invites us to lunch at his place.
 
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In front of Chen's  house.
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In front of the house and look left.
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In front of the house and look right.
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Mud bricks of the house.
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Ceiling of the house.
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Wall paper of the house.
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Light bulb of the house.
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Chair, kettle, and flies.
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Chen keeps a family of piggies in his house.
img_7396s.jpgObviously, they are not pets. But the piggies are so cute that I just can't associate them with the word "food".

Chen says the piggies will be kept for a few months and then be sold on the market. What's gonna happen next? I don't want to think.

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   Chen's house is not any more glamorous than any other house in the village. In this corner of China, there is no "rich" people. 

img_7421s.jpgChen killed a chicken for my lunch. They haven't said but I can tell a chicken is an extravaganza here. 

Throughout lunch, they don't seem to move their chopsticks much. I know they are saving the chicken for me. I feel grateful but uneasy. I can't force them to eat. So?

So there is one thing I can do. See the bowls on the ground? They are not for soup, they are for - what else can it be -  liquor. So I fill up the bowl, raise it, and go "gan"! "Gan" means "dry", i.e. bottoms up. In most parts of China, there is nothing better you can do to show your gratitude than "gan"ning a few bowls of liquor with the host.

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Imagine a few bowls of liquor at lunch. I got high before I can eat a mouthful of rice. Oh, pumpkin rice. Love it!
  
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Chen is after all "well-off". Lao Lin's toilet is about 3x3x3 feet in size and doesn't have a door.
  If you have a weak stomach, don't read the following paragraph or YOU ARE GONNA PUKE!

I like everything about the village, BUT the toilet. Don't underestimate what's inside this structure. It's the village concept toilet. It's the worse nightmare of city folks.

It's a hole on the ground.  The poor people has a mud hole and the "well-off" people has a cement hole. There is no draining system. The "exported merchandise" simply piles up at where you unload them. When I squat down to "export", imagine there is a hill of other people's merchandise 1 inch away from my behind. I pray so hard that my feet won't fall asleep in the middle of the process. Please, not here!!!  

So I got nosey and look around when doing the job. I can't help but looking down. Wow, what are those little white worms doing on the merchandise? Look like they are surfing up and down happily. They look so creepy in scary movies but they look so cute in reality. While I am being sarcastic, I am looking for another hole to puke into. 

Later I talk to other GuiYang people and tourists from other cities of China, they admit they can't go back to village lives anymore, let alone that village toilet. Conclusion, village style toilet is really a special treat even by mainland Chinese standard.

(Why not a PIC, or a macro shot, of the toilet? It's simply too gross. I don't want KamLeung.com to be rated XXXX. Big NO, NO. )

 
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After lunch, we walk back home thru the rice fields.
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The oxen know how to deal with hot weather like this.
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My o my. Look at the cool water.

After a day of being here, Kam picks up village mentality. When it's hot, he doesn't go flip an A/C switch, he jumps into the river.

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Life can't get any better than this!  Even better, swimmers with see-thru underwear jump in right after me. Hot babes? Nay, they are Lao Lin and Chen. 
img_7116s.jpgThese are Lao Lin's duckies. They are set free in the morning and they come back by themselves to Lao Lin's doorstep in the evening. I call them "homing duckies".
 
  Spending a lazy afternoon checking out Lao Lin's house. 
 
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Picked from the hills.
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Picked from the ground.
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Ok, here is a recap of how Lao Lin's house looks like.
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The penthouse (upper right of the house) is a warehouse. This machine blows away the power on rice.
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Lao Lin's bed.
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Lao Lin's son's bed. Tidy compared to Kam's.
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Climbing into the left penthouse.
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What's up there? A coffin. Old people in villages feel secured to  have coffins in their house - they know they have homes after they depart.
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The roof I.
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The roof II.
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This is the  best room in the house. It's Li's, Lao Lin's daughter, bed. For hospitality's sake, Li leaves this room for me. 
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Newspaper and Hong Kong singer's poster on the wall. 
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Remember what Chen's house looks like and you would say this is a hell of a nice room.
 
  At night. It's political socialization time. The officials from the town and county insist they invite me to dinner. So at 5:30pm, they come to pick up me and Lao Lin. They show me around the county and then dinner starts.

During dinner, there are enough dishes to feed half of China's population and enough liquor to flood the Rocky Mountains. Yet Lao Lin is so tense all night with all these high officials sitting next to him. I can imagine honest him has never been trapped in a situation like this before.

On hindsight, I realize the dinner isn't there for me. I am invited so that the officials can pay for the dinner with government money. It sucks big time when I realize I am being used.

As soon as we are dropped off. I ask Lao Lin if he liked the dinner. With a naive voice and embarrassed look, Lao Lin says "I .. .. don't like it. I feel uncomfortable." The answer is so raw and straight-forward that it makes me smile. When asked the same question in Hong Kong, I would have said "Yeah, it was ok.. .. blah, blah, blah, blah." Why can't I get right to the point like Lao Lin does? 

Compared to Lao Lin, the officials and me are almost criminals.

 
img_7309s.jpg  It's past 11pm when we get to the other side of the river. Lao Lin hauls out his home made liquor and says, "my liquor is not good, but I think you'll like it better than what you had at the county." And he starts frying peanuts.

Same dim light, same wooden chairs, we are chatting the night away.

Although not at all chasing after material, Lao Lin does want a better standard of living. He looks up to city folks who have modern homes, convenience transportation and contact with the outside world. But I tell him I envy villagers who don't have to worry about paying off mortgages, don't have to choose which tie to wear to work and don't have to watch their cholesterol level.

I guess, if given a choice, 99 out of 100 villagers will move to city and 100 out of 100 city souls will stay in the city. That is a process in revolution that no one can ever stop or reverse. Nevertheless, we city folks shouldn't be too proud of what we have achieved because we pay huge price for such achievements. That huge price is called the peace of mind. 

    

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