Posts Tagged With: lotus

SZECHWAN PROVINCE

It’s a long ride across Szechwan Province and we talk among ourselves about how political our guide, Vicki, is. She was very open about Tiananmen Square, the skimming of tips on the ship and the workers hot, miserable quarters where they have to live and about her own family and so on.   We had a paid family visit and we speculate what it would be like to visit a family that is not paid. I get elected to ask. And, much to our surprise, she instructs the driver to pull over on a side street in the next village we come to. The picture above is the one I took on our walk back to the bus, but the building was the first one we came to.

The building was divided into three units, a small store, a barbershop and a meeting room. A guy was getting his haircut.

And a bunch of older men were playing majong in the meeting room in the middle of the afternoon.

As we walked past the building, I saw a  stack of reeds and hay in front of a pond. We learned later that the pond supplies lotus roots and leaves and edible fish for the table.The roots feed the pigs along with another pond weed, the leaves are used to wrap things. Food can be eaten from them wrapped picnic style and carried to the field in a cloth sack.

On the right was a group of houses with people out in front raking cotton. Each house had a garden in which I saw chard, lettuce, cukes, beans and squash, spinach, radishes.  The houses are modest and close together.

It appeared that all members of the family worked the cotton at every place.

And Vicki confirmed that this province is known for its agriculture having at one time provided the entire food supply for China. Now, only 7% of the land here is used for farming and this area is predominantly cotton.Some areas have wheat and orchards and other ground crops.

We are unsure whether we will  be able to get inside one of the houses so I asked if we could approach. Vicki asked me to pick out a house, and I did.  She knocked on the door and asked the lady of the house if we could come in and see her house. She felt honored to meet big nosed people for the first time.

We walked past her garden and there was a pig sty in front of her house. Super clean, no unpleasant odor.

She agreed to allow us to have our picture taken with her. With Vicki as our interpreter, we learned that she has two grown sons, one is working at the dam as a silt catcher, the other is an architect in Beijing.She farms with her husband who was out in the field.

She showed us her kitchen which only had room for two people, really, with a column rigged with a huge gas wok.  A shelf held a few implements. No table, nor chairs to sit and eat that I could see. I took the picture surreptitiously because Vicki couldn’t fit in the room with us and I didn’t know how to ask.

The same for the bedroom, a double bed that stretched from wall to wall. Very small areas in which you could barely turn around. When we stepped back outside, Vicki said the woman was apologizing for her housekeeping, though the place was very clean.

She looked at me oddly when I took a picture of her broom. They all use these straw brooms they make themselves. Bathrooms are communal outdoor pit toilets.

We asked Vicki if we could offer her money as a  thank you for her hospitality. Vicki said yes and we did and she wouldn’t take it and kept refusing until Vicki insisted she  take it. She was lovely, and positive and everyone enjoyed the visit through Michal and I. But, if the reverse happened, could you see an American family inviting a tour bus load of strangers off the street into your yard, and even two people into your  house?  The others stood around and watched and got to peek in through the door. All the neighbors were watching us.

On the way out, the fellow who had been in the barber chair was finished with his hair cut. I asked him if I could take his picture. Then I showed it to him. The fellow standing behind watching is the store proprietor and not to be outdone, he whipped out his cell phone and asked me if he could take MY picture, then showed the picture to me. I felt like and idiot, the ugly American. I didn’t even own a cell phone at the time.

We loaded back into the bus. We see motors like this everywhere.

People here seem happy and content. They have a great community life, everyone knows everyone else in the neighborhood. Life is simple and good on the farm.

These people are obviously taking their cotton to market, but we also saw hot peppers and loads of pigs going to market.

We continued our long bus ride. Vicki pointed out many farms with ponds and a shack where the farmer sleeps at night when his fish get big enough to eat. He protects his fish so no one will steal them. They raise mostly cod and eels. Raising fish for sale is quite  profitable as is the lotus roots they harvest from the same ponds in the winter. In summer they grow a seed used in tea. It is very bitter-tasting but the locals like it.

In New China, under Mau, the farmers suffered the highest taxes. They were made to take risky ventures. He asked them to make iron. They couldn’t market it and transport it to the cities and their efforts failed. They weren’t skilled and didn’t strengthen it properly and it was weak steel. When the people in the provinces claimed the Yangtze was dirty and making people sick. Mau demonstrated how wrong they were by having a newspaper reporter take his picture swimming in the river, instead of taking steps to clean it up. He raised his Red Guard from high schools and elementary schools because anyone who didn’t join was subtly punished. The people were offered rewards, things they desperately needed, to encourage their children to become part of the Red Guards, or join themselves. He instructed the people to capture “useless” song birds to eat when they were hungry. He sent out plans for cages and the people practically decimated the song bird populations for a tiny bit of protein, on his instructions. That is why Chinese people value song birds in cages, explained Vicki.  They are very rare in China now.

We arrive in Wuhan City, population, 8 million.  More tomorrow.

 

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AN IMPERFECT GARDEN

We are up early to visit the UR Garden. The designers took great pains and cost to turn this  beautiful,  former government employee’s home, into a centerpiece of Chinese garden architecture.  Walled gardens are meant to shut out the troubles of everyday life. To do that, a garden must have balance, and elements that instill peace and serenity.

A perfect garden will have  a hill, water, rock, plants, a building and trees,  the major components.
The plants and shapes and positions of everything in the garden have special meanings. If you plant a pine tree for strength, you must have two, a female and a male pine tree. If one dies, you must remove the partner tree and replant two new ones to replace them with their relativity in size maintained for “balance”.

The rock and hill must be a  size to complement its surroundings, not overshadow it.   Gates, bridge rails and doors are smooth and pleasurable to touch. Walkways flow.  Windows and doorways have form and interest to please the eyes.

Bamboo represents strength and resilience and music as the wind passes over its hollowed stems in a gate or a structure.  Each plant is chosen for its symbolic meaning. A flowering plum represents rebirth and renewal when it blooms on bare wood in the spring.   A lotus is purity. Peonies symbolize wealth.

A carved historical event.

A  requisite lion.

A protective dragon.
After this painstaking cultivated garden was matured, a contingent of Chinese garden experts came from Vancouver, Canada to see it. They commented on how “beautiful”the garden was. Not perfect?  When asked why it didn’t meet expectations, it was  because above the wall, in a small corner,  could be seen, a modern condominium in the distance. The cure will be heighten the wall or move the condominium if necessary. They take the poetic aspects of their peaceful garden very seriously.

In the afternoon we cross the river to the Yangtze market to pick up last-minute souvenirs. Several of us take tea at a lovely tea house. We are let loose in the market place within walking distance of our hotel. Three of us go to the Hip Hop Market and gawk at merchandise for teens, babies, grandchildren, ourselves. Very expensive stuff.  Shoes like we’ve never seen in our lives before. Stiletto heels six inches high. See through blouses and bathing suits. This is China?  It was a gas. We dashed from store to store like unruly kids to take it all in.

That night, at our  farewell dinner, we  traded  email addresses with our new friends and said our goodbyes.  I don’t remember  our  farewell dinner  but, I’ll never forget  China.

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More Info On The Flooded Campground…

Prior to yesterday and for a couple of days I reported about my canceled reservations for the Thousand Trails RV Resort at Manteca, California because the campground was flooded by the San Joaquin River.

Here’s a photo from the Manteca Bulletin Newspaper…

To read yesterday’s article associated with this photo, click this link…

http://www.mantecabulletin.com/news/article/22267/

In other news…

This morning I’ll depart VFW Post #1267 in Sacramento and drive the about 50 miles east to Thousand Trails Ponderosa RV Resort at Lotus, California. I’ll be there for a two-week stay.

All original material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2011
For more information about my three books, click this link:
http://lulu.com/panamaorbust

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I’ve Been Flooded Out…

of my next campground reservations.

Yesterday, just before noon, I got a call from the manager of Thousand Trails Turtle Beach RV Resort in Manteca, California informing me that the San Joaquin River has overflowed its banks and the campground is flooded and not expected to open for at least another month. So, they canceled my April 3-17 reservations.

So, what to do? Some Internet research showed me my Thousand Trails options. First option double-back 80 miles to where I just left at Thousand Trails Morgan Hills. Total drive double-backing then to Mary’s home…250 miles.

Next option…Thousand Trails Ponderosa RV Resort in Lotus, California. Total drive to campground then to Mary’s…190 miles.

This location is only about one mile from where gold was discovered. 2001 is the last time I’ve been to this campground.

My plans are to depart my current location in Tracy, California this morning and slowly work my way in that direction and arrive there Sunday morning for a two-week stay.

All original material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2011
For more information about my three books, click this link:
http://lulu.com/panamaorbust

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