Country folk

Posted on May 18, 2012

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Thirty adults.  Fifteen kids.  Three rustic dwellings.  One pizza oven and a dog.

The pizza oven was an unexpected addition (as was Dan Dan the dog) to what was a fantastic couple of days up at a small village near Simatai last weekend.  Naturally, the pizza oven, not being indigenous to these parts*, was knocked up by a local tradesman after receiving a pdf print out from Google, and ably fed the hungry hoards, as well as some of the neighbours.

*Despite the long-running argument that it was the Chinese who introduced pasta/noodles to the Italians and not the other way round, nobody here has yet tried to claim the pizza, or so I believe…

The three “cottages” if I can call them that, with raised concrete sleeping areas (kangs – that can be heated with a small fire underneath in winter which is, by all accounts somewhat smokey) sit in the shadow of the Great Wall and so waking up to the sounds of chickens after a night of pizza and Yanjing around the fire, we headed up a steep path for 45 minutes in the sunshine onto a crumbling (and possibly somewhat dangerous part of the wall) that the tourists don’t go to.

And nor, it seemed, should we have.  For no sooner had we gotten to the top and started admiring the fantastic views, marvelling not only at how an army of workers had managed to build it but also questioning quite why the steep and treacherous terrain would be made all the more secure from attack by the addition of a wall on top (alright, yes, it was mainly a way of getting troops from one place to another, but Great Road didn’t, for some reason, sound as good as Chang Chen) than one of the local  farm women started hollering up to us from down in the valley.

From such a distance, it wasn’t practical to make out whatever it was that she was trying to tell us, but not to be undone, she covered the 45 minute trail to the third crumbling tower that we had reached in a fraction of the time it had taken us in order to escort us down.

We never did understand fully why we weren’t meant to be up there on a holiday, nor did she make much effort to explain.

Instead, we whiled away the rest of the day playing Tarot, trying to prevent kids from falling off roofs, drinking Cassis and generally having a very pleasant and very rustic time – something most of the people here cannot for the life of them understand…

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Posted in: China, Great Wall