Nanjiecun #2: Wandering in the Blistering Heat

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June 14th 2019
Published: August 9th 2020
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Once again, I was surprised to wake up hangover free. We headed out for some breakfast and decided to check out the town next to Nanjiecun. We walked through the tunnel in the city wall, Choayangmen Gate. Inside the tunnels, there were some great sculpted murals on the walls of the tunnels. I enjoyed looking at those and it was another reminder that Nanjiecun is different to the rest of China. Through the other side of the tunnel, the contrast to Nanjiecun was quite stark. While Nanjiecun is quite stark and utilitarian with its red trimmed white building, this street in Linying County was full of traditional looking Chinese architecture and was really pretty. There were quite a few restaurants on the street and we just headed into one for breakfast. I had reganmian (hot dry noodles), which I found out is not only a Wuhan speciality, but Henan also has its own version. The noodles were really good and I really enjoyed them. I was sad that the portion was rather huge as it meant that I had to leave some of them. After breakfast, we decided to take a bit of a walk around Linying County. There wasn't really

Hot dry noodles
too much to see in the part that we were in. We made our way to a shopping area, but there were quite a few empty shops and there weren't a lot of people about. It had that kind of forgotten, neglected feel to it that quite a few places in China have in my opinion. Although I could understand why there weren't many people about as the weather was absolutely scorching. We were also able to visit the tower at the entrance to the town. I was a little surprised, but on reflection probably shouldn't have been that the shrine inside the tower was dedicated to Chairman Mao. It was great to stand on the tower and see the contrasting views of Nanjiecun and Linying County.

We headed back into Nanjiecun and came to the covered walkway that we had briefly seen the day before. This walkway is in the residential district and I think was built to protect kids from the harsh sun and the rain when they were on their way to and from school. It's a really good idea and I liked that there were quite a few old people sitting around on the seats in the walkway as it gets people out of their homes and socialising. There were quite a few propaganda posters with quotes from former leaders of China and Soviet leaders. At the end of the walkway, there was smallish building that contained a hairdressers. Since we were in the residential area, we went to visit a family. I was a little apprehensive about this, as it felt really weird to me, that we would just knock on someone's door and wait to be invited in to hear about their lives. We headed into one of the apartment blocks and knocked on a door. No one answered, so we decided to head to a higher floor and see if we could find some people who were at home. We also passed some propaganda/informational posters on the walls of the apartment building. We were in luck when we knocked on the door of the next apartment and a couple that were in their late fifties or early sixties invited us in. They didn't seem to be put out at all by us just showing up. I suppose it might happen as tourists come to the village and are eager to learn about what a locals life is like. We were able to find out a bit about their lives. The husband was a delivery driver for one of the firms in the collective and the wife was retired. They were not originally from the village, but had moved here when they were young for better opportunities. It surprises me how many people move here from other places. It seemed like quite close knit place as one of their mother in laws lived in the opposite apartment and their son, his wife, and baby lived in one of the apartments on one of the upper floors. Their daughter however had moved away, to a larger city in the south of China if I remember correctly. I liked their apartment and it was a good size for the family. There was a large picture of Chairman Mao hanging on the wall. I remember seeing those in hostels when I first visited China in 2006, but haven't seen any since then, or maybe I just don't notice them anymore. I asked the family what had changed over time since they'd been living in the collectivist society, but there weren't any changes that were specific to the commune, just general changes that had happened to the whole of China, such as how a cellphone is an integral part of daily life and the abundance of delivery (take out food and online shopping). It was really nice to visit the family, it added a rather unique dimension to the trip.

We took a walk back along the covered walkway near the schools. We had wanted to go into the schools but for obvious reasons they didn't let people in. We had a walk around and came to a small bookstore that was on the green. It was nice to have a look around, although everything was in Chinese, so I wouldn't have been able to buy anything. We came out on the main street and decided to grab some lunch, although it was quite late by Chinese standards. There were a few restaurants on the main street and we went to the Hui Muslim one. We were the only people there when we arrived and the owners were really friendly and chatty. They told us about how some random foreigners had knocked on the door of their apartment a few years ago. Lol, it sounded just like what we had done. The food was pretty god at the restaurant. We had another really good eggplant dish that was different to the other ones we'd had so far on the trip, and a spicy chicken and cumin dish that was yummy. After lunch, we headed back to the hotel to escape the last of the midday heat.

After resting for a bit, we headed back out again, not that it felt any cooler. We took a walk around the town, it was super quiet and we didn't really see anyone else about. They were probably being sensible and sitting in air conditioned bliss. We walked around the streets that we had driven through on the previous day's tour. We passed factories and office buildings. We had a look around the local supermarket, which was well stocked, cheap, and didn't smell; I'm looking at you Carrefour. We also came across a traditional bathhouse, which I have never seen in China before, I've only seen and frequented the more modern spa types. I don't know if I would like to visit an old school style one. While on our walk, we came across the local TV studio and blagged ourselves an invite in. I'd never been in a TV studio before, so that was a new experience for me. It would have been nice to see something being filmed, but we weren't that lucky. Outside, it was too hot to walk around for any longer so we headed back to the hotel and sought refuge under the air conditioning and the room's tinted windows.

We headed out for dinner. It was a little cooler, so that was good. A small market set up near the city gate/tower and it was nice to see the different stalls selling foods such as fruit, bread and other snack foods. We headed through the town and chose a restaurant to eat at that was pretty busy. That should be a good indicator that the food is good, however this wasn't the case. Since we weren't too hungry, we just ordered a few dishes to share. There was a spicy meat dish, which wasn't very nice due to the cuts of meats used. It was all the stuff that most people in the west would discard and was a bit too crunchy for my liking. The bamboo tofu was delicious as was the peanut, carrot and celery dish. There was another meat dish that was better than the first, but still not amazing. After dinner we took a walk around town, it was nice to be in a different place, a smaller town as watch life go by. The town was rather busy. Since we had walked pretty far, we took a taxi back to Nanjiecun and headed to East is Red Square. I was surprised as it was a lot busier than it had been the previous evening. It was filled with families out enjoying the evening. Maybe because it was a Friday night, so people were out celebrating the start of the weekend.

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