Our eldest is close to the end of a month long trip in China, having the time of her life, exploring and experiencing a different culture. Though she has enjoyed the classic Chinese icons like the Great Wall and the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace, her most effusive writing has been about more rural experiences. Since this is in theory a farm blog, I thought I’d include excerpts from two emails. The first one is about her stay in a ger in Mongolia, the second is about her stay in a small town called Hongkeng, where they were given a room in a toulu (one for tourists, with toilets – not always a given in China). She sent pictures of the time in Mongolia ( didn’t include every picture), but I haven’t received any from Hongkeng; however Google images gives one an idea of what she’s seeing – I recommend dong a search for Hongkeng village and clicking “images”. I’ve included her quotes verbatim, so please excuse spelling – she’s typing on her phone.
Some pics i took while waiting for the sun to rise so we could start herding the sheep etc. So they might be kinda blurry cause there was no light and i had numb fingers since it was super cold. Some more pics of The home we stayed at, some of the herd we managed to round up by ourselves (a bit pathetic as we found out later, compared to the roughly 300 sheep that the 1 local guy on his scooter rounded up in the same amount of time by himself that it took 7 of us to find the ones in the pic). Me all wrapped up in a scarf they gave me and ready to watch the sun rise. A pic of the sun rising (can you see the wind turbines way waaaayyyy in the distance? It might be too blurry). And a pic of a hill marker- they use these as land marks so they can find their way through the vast almost never ending expanse that is the inner mongolian plains because they are nomadic and all of the inner mongolian countryside looks pretty much the same- like a huge sea of never ending grass and dusty dirt flowing on and on and on through rolling hills and rocky rolling sloppes and lumps and rises and massive flatish plains- so they put hill markers here and there both for navigation and for communication and so they can find each other when they move (they can leave each other messages at these markers using the placement of piles of certain rocks, paintings, carvings, and flags or other scraps of cloth).
Hongkeng toulu village is amazing- so beautiful and so unique and peaceful. It looks like nowhere else on this earth! I’ll show you pictures when i get home- cause they’re all on my camera not on my phone.
And yes the room we are staying in in the toulu we are staying in does have some of its own unique quirks, but it is definitely not that bad. For one thing there is really good airconditioning and honestly that alone is enough to make me really love the room. Also it is super clean and actually looks fairly recently renovated. The beds are pretty comfy too! And yes there have also been a couple of bugs etc but only (so far and thank goodness) in the bathroom and the hallway outside our room- not in out actual sleeping area. And bugs are just part of being in the countryside. And boy are we in the countryside! This whole village is an actual active farming village! Rice fields, bananas, taros, ducks, geese, chickens… and lots of other things! Sooooo cool! Mom you would love it here- the way the whole village farms the land as one and raises their own food and uses every square inch of good farm land… the young and the old, women and men, all work side by side… everyone works together but they just work slow and steadily- no hurry no stress- when they are tired they rest, when they are hot they move to the shade (and drink hot tea- yes you would totally fit right in)… they butcher their own meat too at each meal! If they are having chicken for dinner then when it is time to cook they just go outside (the chickens here just wonder freely around the village and surrounding farmland and jungle- they are seriously all over the place, especially around the toulus i think because they get food scraps there) and grab a chicken or two or 3 (however many they need) they bring it back into the courtyard and they can get it from clucking to cooking in about 3 mins flat! I got to watch one of our hosts do the whole process and i learned a trick or 2 that i will share with you when im home. I bet you never guessed i would learn this on my trip!!!