Day With the Wan Family

fields of rice

I now have just a week left in China, and I am writing about something that happened in the end of May. Going to have to up the production, if I don’t want to keep having to remember things that happened months ago.

Anyway, this was just after the Italian volunteers arrived and not long before the French volunteers left, so it was about the only trip I had with all of them. I say trip, but it was more like visiting a friend’s house. We were invited by Lin Gege’s friend, Mr. Wan, to join him for lunch in his hometown. So they put us in two cars and we took off.

guangshan square
Dog in the middle of an empty square just outside of Guangshan

China has many different faces. One of them that I noticed were so called “ghost towns”. They can be villages, neighbourhoods and buildings that look like no one lives there. And not very many people do live there. You can see a construction site on every corner in China, but also huge empty buildings waiting for something to happen to them. In Guangshan there are some of those buildings, but it’s not too bad. On our way to Mr. Wan’s hometown however, we drove through a whole neighbourhood of what looked like empty houses. They look like something out of a dystopian novel. Then we stopped for a while in another town (the one with the dog in the picture), which was only a little better. Might have been because of the dog.

guangshan sports
Basketball court

After we got deeper into the countryside, the view turned much more welcoming to the eye. The sky was still gloomy though. Our ride was pretty eventful, helped by a very bumpy road, the amazing music Mr. Wan was playing very loudly (it was sort of like Chinese turbofolk mashed with some kind of techno) and our worry for the lady who was hitching a ride on the back of a “truck” in front of us.

guangshan truck
Common way of transportation

Mr. Wan took us to his house, which had an amazing view of the river. He also had a nice hammock set up for when he felt like admiring this view. He introduced us to his wife, oldest daughter and youngest son.

xiao hunag he
Xiao Huang He – Nan Da He river

We went to Mr. Wan’s brother’s house to have lunch. While we waited for the other to arrive, Donatella, Wan Peipei, her mother and I went to pick some peaches.

peachs and pavilion
Bridge connecting us to the little island with the pavilion and the peaches

To get to the peaches we had to cross this delightful little bridge. I never figured out what was the function of those bumps along the bridge. They were way to steep to be purely aesthetic.

chinese peaches
Peipei and Dona looking for peaches

After this we had a great lunch and then headed back to Guangshan. Mr. Wan has a company that produces furniture (and also a liquor shop), which we visited on the way back. Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of the very intricately made wooden furniture.

The factory also houses a calligrapher. We went into his workshop to see a little bit of his work. I wouldn’t mind spending longer.

preparation for caligraphy
Ink for caligraphy
chinese caligraphy
Some translating going on

Mr. Wan was amazingly hospitable and even gave each one of us an artwork like the one in the picture above. Each one says something different. I will take a picture of mine to show you soon, but the writing was translated for me as “Listen to the sea, look at the waves.”

Since then I have spent quite some time with Peipei, so I am grateful that I was able to meet her that day. And I am sure I will remember the Wan family whenever I look at my piece of calligraphy.

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