I hope you’re diggin’ the new set-up! This one allows the photos and text to be a bit bigger. Well, I guess I’m still an American at heart, but I like this set-up a bit more. Anyway, onward to the new post!
Where we left off last time, Jason and I had just finished relaxing and attempting to get over our colds after coming back from HK. Now we’re on our way to Li Ping.
The road to Li Ping County is an adventure in and of itself as it takes a full two days just to travel there. The trip would not have been nearly as fun if it weren’t for our group. Kevin, Tim, and Helen are Chinese nationals… and by the way, ladies, Kevin’s single and looking to mingle! And he cooks! Rebecca, Amy, and Amy’s sister Lucy were our fellow expat friends– Rebecca and Amy have done a lot of work in minority villages so they were able to coach us through the entire experience.
Our first stop was Kaili, a small city a few hours out of Guiyang City. It’s becoming more popular for tourists to explore minority villages (we all remember Jason’s infamous “The pink ladies gave me wine, bumped my butt, and thought we were engaged” incident, right?), and Kaili is somewhat of a hub that leads to these minority villages. It was interesting to see a small portion of Miao culture and eat some delicious Miao foods, including their sour fish soup! It sounds weird, but it’s so good! JoJo, our friend whose family gracious hosted us, and her mom paid to have the “special treatment” where Miao women come and sing a traditional drinking song and serve everyone wine, and by “serve,” I mean “force-feed.” Just a foreshadowing of things to come in the village…
We walked around windy Kaili, which- with its hills, wind, and “special buildings” as Kevin called them- also reminded me a little of San Francisco. As Jason and I walked around after dinner, I got a little misty just thinking about my family back home and the warm familiarity of the places I grew up in and loved so much. When we got back to the hotel, Jason and I left the rest of the group to spend some time alone and watched one of Van Damme’s finest, Sudden Death. Okay, I’m going to post later with one-liner reviews of the movies and books I’ve watched and read in China, but my review of Sudden Death would go something like, “One nudity scene short of being everything I hate in guy movies” or “Proof that Jessie Spano was on to something when she called all men ‘pigs’ back at Bayside High.”
Anyway, it was fun to just sit with Jason and again and laugh at the shear tavesty that this movie was to the art of filmmaking. The movie was suddenly interrupted by a confusing phone call, followed by a knock at the door. I went up to see who it was and I was met by a very pretty girl who looked about 18-22 years old who was just as confused when she saw me. Immediately, I knew what was going on. I saw an older woman behind her who I assumed was her “manager” and she half-smiled and said probably the one English word she knows, “Massage?” Womp. Womp. Womp. As she left, my heart broke for her. After hearing the stories of other women who are in the same line of work, I was reminded of how important it is to be salt and light to the people of China… and also how much work there is to be done! But that’s another story…
After a luxurious night’s stay in Kaili, we rushed off to take two buses to a nearby town. The rides over were beautiful and passed by village after village. It was so interesting seeing all the agricultural terracing (called ti tian in Mandarin, literally meaning “ladder field”) and the unique buildings. After our bus rides, we climbed into a long and narrow boat for an indefinite amount of time. I noticed that Kevin and Tim were speaking excitedly to some of the locals on the bus and quickly informed us that it would be a five-hour boat ride to our next destination. My heart sank… I was sitting on the ground of a cold, loud, violently vibrating, crowded boat, I was getting hungry, and I really needed to pee! Not to mention that we knew we had one more hour-long boat ride, plus an hour-long hike after our first boat ride. Fortunately, I fell asleep for 2 hours and the boat ride ended up being about 3.5 hours.
We finally reached our first boat stop and met our friend Hank who greeted us with warm smiles and proclamations of how happy he was to see us. After the day we’d had so far, the feeling was definitely mutual. We took one more short boat ride, then prepared for an hour-long hike to Hank’s village. Hank’s village is a beautiful cluster of wooden houses and curvy pathways bisected by a river that was dried up for the winter. His relatives came and met us about halfway through the hike and frequently referred to us as “gui pengyou” which means “precious friends.” This set the precedent for the rest of the trip.
If you want to read more details about what we did in the village, read the next post!
(Photos are on their way!)