Trip to a Remote Village in China
By Sumiitra Yiohan Sooriaarratchi
Wuyuan is a magical, mystical village nestled in a valley of Jianxi Province.
We arrived at Wuyuan in high spirits and were eager to explore this idyllic place. Most of us were visibly shaken by the bumpy bus ride. However, everyone was ready for the adventure. At first sight, Wuyuan is a sleepy little village but as you dig deeper you uncover a vibrant village full of activity and smiling faces. On a personal level it was a treat for the senses and the soul: the bright green of the rice fields, the gentle stream undulating its way through the village, the willow trees hanging gracefully above the water and the mighty stone bridges. What could be more delightful?
Every street is lined with quaint shops selling everything from tea, trinkets, lucky charms and jewellery to hats, musical instruments, artistic nude photographs (more on that later) and Chinese “Kama Sutra” carvings! What an unbelievable mix of the best things in life!! Wuyuan is also filled with interesting architecture, antique shops stuffed to capacity and former residences of famous kung-fu masters.
Just as all this was unfolding before my eyes; Tom, Alex and Sherylinstarted sampling the local rice wine (60% alcohol) also known as “Chinese Water” – Crazy forest people. The perfect way to get high! Meanwhile, crazy girls Zita (Ms Shanghai who loves strippers and snakes), Jean (Ms Hong Kong/Super fierce Ping Pong Player) and Tom helped me to choose the best green tea at the local store. Besides shopping for souvenirs we were also able to appreciate the beauty of the simple life that the villagers enjoy. Jill would even mention later on that her most remarkable personal moment was the sight of a mother and child sitting together in Wuyuan. It reminded her of the special things in life that we all take for granted. Good one Jill. Cheers!!
A few hours later we were treated to a fabulous lunch of local delicacies. It is interesting to note that all the ingredients in our meal were sourced from the gardens and farms around the village. The Organic Extravaganza was simply delicious and perfect in every way. This is a good example of simple organic living that is both sustainable and self-sufficient. The people of Wuyuan are lucky to have a healthy coexistence with their environment. Click, click, click. Photos galore. Angie, Ruby, May, Lavender and Ricky were busy taking photos of Dr Pei a.k.a Jackie Chan; who had just put on his farmers hat and sun glasses – born to be in show business!!
There was just a bit more drama before we left thanks to my wise purchase of the wonderful nude photography. The whole team simply couldn’t believe it and were literally laughing their guts out! However, Dr Pei supported my choice by saying, “Its art!” I agree with Dr Pei!!! Ha ha ha!!! I will never forget this awesome village. By the way I have to add that on a subsequent visit to China the Kama Sutra carvings were almost confiscated by the immigration authorities at Hangzhou airport. I had to explain to the officer that it was a gift for a friend and that the piece of art was actually from China!!!
With our Wuyuan adventure complete the next destination was the country side of Gu Tian Shan where we had a fantastic dinner at a farmer’s house. This was my introduction to “Chinese water” courtesy of Dr Pei. Free flow of alcohol and good food inevitably led to renditions of love songs from one BFF (Best Friends Forever) to another (Tom and Sumi –that’s me. a.k.a Stripper/Mr Hemp). Songs about flying, Alex-I believe I can fly, and Chinese songs from Ruby!! Jill and Dr Pei even performed numerous magic tricks! The star of the night was Dr. ‘Jackie Chan’ who somehow managed to turn a piece of cloth into a rabbit….or maybe I was so drunk on “Chinese Water” that I imagined the whole thing! Wow what a night!!!
This day-out came to represent our entire stay at the CRCC. It was serious work, followed by fun and even more extreme, crazy fun. That’s how all things should be. An experience I will never forget.
Before concluding I would like to leave you with a quote from one of my favorite bloggers – The Moneyless Man, Mark Boyle –because I felt that I was living up to his advice on my trip.
“Some people tiptoe through life so carefully, so as to be sure of arriving safely at death. Life is the most incredible adventure. Don’t be afraid of it. Take risks. Step outside your comfort zone. Feel the four seasons on your skin. And stand up for what you believe in, it’s precious. Be the change.”
Peace and Love to my Forest Friends I will never forget you….you will always have a special place in my heart!! Together we are an unstoppable force of positive change! Cheers! You Rock!!!
* This trip was part of an HSBC Climate Partnership training program at the CRCC – China Regional Climate
Center in Gu Tian Shan – together with EarthWatch.
Photos courtesy Zita Y Chen