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Published: February 6th 2006
Yesterday，the Dog year has started and the Chicken year ended. Happy new year!
The Chinese new year is a holiday that lasts 1 week. Its other name is the 'Spring Festival' and indeed the last 3 days have beed shining and it does get warmer. It is an early spring. The street of the western tourists has the obvious name of 'West street'. But nowadays, during the holiday, its name does not hint its habitants, as it is filled with many more Chinese tourists then western ones. The main events in this holiday is fireworks, lots of firecrackers, all day long and dragons procession. The dragons enter to the shops and bless them with 'Happy New Year'.
One fact the I have known about Chinese people is that they all the time and every where. Well, I did not witnesed the phenomena very widely. On the contrary, very seldom did I see them spit. But, it might be related to the fact that here is a very touristic place they maybe they are more civilized here.
The second fact that I have known about Chinese people is that they eat evreything. This fact happaned to be true. They eat
everything that moves. Beside the regular stuff of beef, pork, chicken,ducks etc, in the market here I have seen dogs, rats, pigeons, rabits. Since we are used to eat the regular stuff, when it is comes to dogs, it feels horrible becuase dogs are known as our sweet pets. The poor creatures are put in a very crowded cage until they are executed. They also don't waste anything, all parts of the animals are sold and eaten: legs, nails, heads, etc. The most common animal here seems to be the chicken. It is a very common sight to see a Chinese person walks in the street, holding a chicken in one hand.
What about bird flu???
Each day I was either wandering or cycling around the villages and the landscape. Only in the villages you are exposed to the 'real China'. In the city, you see the relatively reach Chinese people and the ones that can efford to themselfes to travel. However, about 700 million Chinese (out of 1.3 billion) are poor villages. China's GDP (gross domestic product) in indeed very high but the gaps between rural poor and urban rich is one of the largest in the world.
best day here was yesterday when I went to a cycling trip in the surronding villages with Fausto and Timo who are 2 very nice guys staying with me at the hostel.
We started the trip actually very late, at around 14.00 (that was happans in this touristic place where there are so many restaurants and pubs, you hang around late).
At around 17.00, we arrived to a family house at a dead end. We started to ask them, in a broken Chinese, where is the way to Yangshou. Instead of showing us the way, they invited us to dinner.
We had doubts about it. On one hand it was late (we still had some way to cycle). On the other hand, this is probably the wet dream of many backpackers, to mingle with the local people and better then that, to have dinner with them. So, eventually, we agreed to the kind offer. We could not resist this one-in-a-life mingling opportunity.
The minute we had agreed, they gave us beer and rice cakes as the starter.
The pork was already coocking in the wood oven outside.
2 minutes after, our host picked a chicken, sloughtered it and was then
preparing it for dinner. Again, bird flu...We have also seen a fish to be cooked as well. We did not know if all this fuss was for us or they would eat all this anyhow and this was actually their new year's dinner.
It all looked very good (well, maybe excpet the chicken) but then we have realized that it will take us a long time and it would be dark by the time that we would eat.
Now, the problem was how to say this to them so they would not be insulted. And, of course, there was the language problem as well.
With the Mandarin phrase book and hands language we tried to explain them the problem.
After several minutes, it looked like they understood. One of our hosts went off and returned after a minute driving a vehicle carrying a wagon. What they understood is that we would like to stay for dinner but we don't wish to ride at dark. So, we tried again our Chinese and hand gestures skills and after the second time they understood and it looked like they accepted our sincere appologies. They then drew the way back to Yangshou on the
ground and tried to explain us the way.
Actually, the men were talking while I was shooting (you can see the pictures).
Before we left, we paid our host for the beer and for the rice cakes. It was too much but they were such a nice family so they deserved every penny. And also, we had some very good photos as well, you know, cute kids - not asking for money in exchange, slauther of a chicken, the usual stuff...
Our host did not want to accept the money. Eventually he did but tried to give us some change that we refused to take. The problem was solved by the grany who gave us some oranges.
We rode back and asked every person on the way how to continue. Eventually, we have arrived to Yangshou already at dark, tired but satisfied.
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