"" Writer's Wanderings: Chinese Farmhouse

Friday, September 25, 2009

Chinese Farmhouse

A smile beams from a crinkled weathered face as the woman greets us at the door. The farmhouse is like a small condo made mostly of cement and stone or block. There is no color on the walls but there are colorful red banners displayed at the entrance and at either side of the back door with Chinese writing.

The couple lives on the first floor now but she motions us up the stairs to check out the three bedrooms on the second floor.
The husband stands in one room upstairs in a doorway that leads to a balcony overlooking the backyard.

We are told the couple has five children but they have all moved out to their own homes to raise their families. I find this a bit unusual since we have heard a lot about so many grown children living with parents and working the farms. Previously we were told that the farmers were allowed to have more children than others because of the need for laborers in the field. Still—how can this family afford to all have their own homes? Perhaps giving tours?

Back on the first floor in a corner is the "bathroom". I don't see a toilet but then I don't really search for one. The shallow bowl in the corner turns out to be the shower basin. I see the showerhead sticking out of the red pipe. At least it appears there is some sort of indoor plumbing.

The kitchen is most interesting. A large firebox holds two huge woks. I wonder if they build a fire under them with coal. The only picture I see on a wall hangs over the entrance to the kitchen from the living room. It looks like it is a relative.

The backyard is cultivated and every bit planted with vegetables. As we have seen along the way, every inch of available land is used to grow something. Cotton grows in the front yard and I notice one bush blooming. I’ve never seen a cotton bloom before. It is a beautiful creamy white flower about five inches in diameter and opens like a poppy. Next to it are two green pods that will mature and pop open with the desired fluffy white fibers.

Back on the bus, we continue on, passing a gas station as we near a town. Traffic is lined up—mostly trucks and buses—waiting to buy gas. We are told the price is government regulated and some stations wait for the price to increase before selling it so they don’t lose money. The guide says our bus driver had difficulty getting enough gas. I think he is making sure we appreciate the bus driver when our “time to say good-bye” comes. Translated it means “tip time.”

The Shangra La in Wuhan is a welcome sight. We scurry to our rooms to caress soft beds and fresh-smelling linens. Dinner is a buffet. It is surprisingly good but still very Chinese. There is sushi and a few dishes without all the gelatinous soy and curry sauces. As we are eating, we are greeted by an American who works at the hotel. She comes from Indiana and went to Purdue where she majored in hospitality. She is hungry to speak English and mingle with Americans. She goes from table to table pouring coffee and clearing dishes and meeting the others. She loves her job and living in Wuhan.

After dinner, Bob and I take a short walk, dodging traffic as we cross the street. It is a little less chaotic than Beijing. Our hotel is in the financial district so most of the buildings are closed for the night and there are no malls or entertainment areas nearby. It starts to rain and we hurry back.

In the hotel, we find a gift shop selling silk embroideries but the unusual quality of these is that they are stitched on a piece of silk so that they can be viewed from both sides. We purchase two pictures of sampans.

A long day. My eyes are heavy at 9 p.m.
Other China posts:
The Forbidden City
Tiananmen Square
The Great Wall
The Summer Palace
Wuhan to Beijing
Three Gorges Dam
Three Gorges and Lesser Gorges
Fengdu—The Ghost City
Cruising the Yangtze
Chonging—The Yangtze River
The Big Goose Pagoda
Evening in Xian
Beijing to Xian
Timid Tourist in China-Travel Day
China-The Trip of a Lifetime

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