Saturday, May 31, 2008

May 31, 2007 - Visit to a farming village

One year ago today, we took a tour that was one of the most important things we did while in China. We toured a rural farming village about 20-30 minutes outside of Nanchang. This village, according to our guides, is probably very similar to the area where Sophie was born. It was so interesting to see how the majority of the non-urban population in China lives. It was something that we will never forget.

These ladies and their babies came to greet us as we got off the bus.

Before we walked through the village, we walked down a road and looked out over the land being farmed. This farmer was hard at work in a field.

He left his bike up on the road.

K thought that the brick pattern in the buildings was interesting.

The children in the village were just adorable and were SO curious about us.

This little girl was all dressed up for some sort of pageant at her school that day.

As you can imagine, a busload of caucasian families with Asian babies and a few older siblings attracted a LOT of attention in the village that day. Everyone was so polite and thrilled about the babies. Our guide did a lot of translating for us so that we could talk.

Notice the little bare cheeks in the baby's split pants!

This guy was a character...

And this woman's face had SUCH character. She was THRILLED to see all the babies.

We were permitted to look inside of this residence. It was sparse. EJ turned to me and said, "Gee, they don't have much furniture." To which I replied, "This is a moment to be very thankful for everything that we are fortunate to have." I think it was a good teaching moment for her age - that not everyone on this earth has the resources and the opportunities that we have.

At one home, it was laundry day:

And these little ducklings were roaming the streets...

This woman was making slippers - her needles were clicking along at an amazing speed! Our guide asked if we could buy them, but she politely explained that they were for her family.

These are some new buildings being built in this co-op village:

Every square foot of soil seemed to be growing some sort of crop:

These plans for a new development were across the street.
As we walked back to the bus, the farmer we had seen in the field earlier was biking down the road. I snapped his picture, but didn't realize it was the same guy until I looked at the photos later.
This little open-area market space was at the edge of the village where the bus dropped us off.
After we returned to the bus, the guides announced they would take us to a porcelain shop. The Jiangxi province is known for its porcelain, and we purchased a small tea set for Sophie to have some day. We also bought some porcelain chopsticks and EJ bought a porcelain bead necklace.

Later that afternoon, a few of us walked a few blocks to a huge pedestrian shopping area with fancy boutique stores offering designer goods at amazing prices. At the end of it, if you crossed the road (also known as taking your life into your own hands), there was an underground shopping area. This picture was in the basement of that shopping area. We stayed for a little while, but myself and one other mom left early, as the fumes from the nail salons were making us a little dizzy!

And, here are some cutie shots of Sophie from a year ago:

The custom dresses were returned from the tailor and they fit perfectly!

Friday, May 30, 2008

May 30th - Teng Pavilion

One year ago on May 30th, we visited the famous Teng Pavilion across the street from our hotel:

Here's Shirley, our Nanchang guide (Rose, the national guide is just to her right with the Mickey Mouse bag):
The grounds of the pavilion had the most beautiful gardens. There were statues of all the Chinese zodiac animals. EJ found the rabbit, since she was born in that year:

The guy was scratching something (his to-do list? complex math solutions?) in the dirt:

I loved this rock. The etching says "How carefree and leisurely the grass is and have you the heart to step on it?"
I love this picture of EJ. But it does remind me of how incredibly hot and humid it was this day!
The backside of the pavilion faced the Gan River, which had a ton of barge traffic (and I grew up near Pittsburgh PA, where there was a lot of it!). We would watch as many as about 50-60 barges go by in an hour.
Of course, there were a lot of fishermen too...
I like this shot, as the woman is rowing the boat, and the man has his head in his hands as if to say "Crazy female driver!"

A shot of some of the artistry on the pavilion:

Looking up the street toward our hotel, the one with the gold dome. The taller building on the left was an unfinished hotel. The wind just howled right through it. I believe the guide said it was never completed due to some corruption case?

The paintings inside the pavilion:

And finally, a shot of what we called the Sqatty Potties. EJ had to go while we were at the pavilion. She thought it was an adventure to use them. I personally made it a point to avoid them and use the nice western-style toilets in the hotel whenever possible.

Some pics taken from the window of the playroom in our hotel looking at the apartment buildings on the other side of the street.