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Gan Zhuang Shan Festival (Zhuang Minority Peoples)

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day to you

What a festive week so far. Yesterday (I'm writing this on Wednesday evening) I went to the Gan Zhuang Shan Festival. I think it means something like 'big strong mountain' festival for the Zhuang People. When saying Zhuang say, Djong. Why strong mountain. I think there was a big battle there and the mountain was the strong point and where they defeated their enemy.

No one can tell me the story straight.

They either only know a little about it or they don't know the words to explain it to me. The Zhuang People are the majority minority in my area. Tianyang is very famous I have found out, not only for its watermelons, tomatoes, tiny denim shorts and high heels but also for its minority peoples.

I was told here in Tianyang was the birthplace of the Guangxi Minority People.

This could all be wrong but the Chinese person telling me this ended his story with 'it is like your Adam and Eve'. I wish he had of told me that at the beginning and that would have saved us an hour of 'do you understand' and 'oh, I don't understand what your saying' and all the Huh's, Hhhmmm's and ok's etc.

I grabbed the bus and spent the day with the female teachers from our school. They along with most of the girls around Tianyang County were all clad in their beautiful Minority Dresses. The girls from my school were dressed in the bluey/aqua coloured dresses (depending on light) you see in the photos.

Picture Name: Gan Zhuang Shan Festival (2) Meet Yang Yang and Sally (with glasses). Sally is now known as Sally Brown due to my constant singing of Buffalo Tom's song of the same name to her. Now other Chinese teachers are calling her Sally Brown and have no idea why. No need to introduce Yang Yang as I've talked about her a lot over the past year.

She is beautiful, a fab cook and is a stunning minority dancer.

Picture Name: Gan Zhuang Shan Festival (4) Now meet my beautiful buddy Lisa.

Here she is being 'real' Chinese and hiding from the sunshine beneath an umbrella. Strange behaviour for us Australians but she looks cute so be it. I'm serious, they treat sunshine in the same fashion they and 'we' treat rain. When Mandy and I were out walking and wanted to sit for awhile, before sitting down she would put her hand out and see if any sun would get her.

If they don't have an umbrella they us anything available.

Mandy had a great story of her friend whom without thinking of how absurd it was, actually held up two chop sticks to stop the sun 'making her black'. Even Mandy laughed at her as did the chop stick holder when she took the time to think about it. It's all about skin colour. In Australia, brown is beautiful. Here in China brown is black and being black is being a farmer and being ugly.

Most of their soaps and body washes have bleach in them.

My schools gals had the task of throwing love balls (see the Jingxi entry) at handsome young men along with throwing love balls through the hoop on the tall stand in some of the pictures. Some of my schools teachers were also dressed in other colours depending on what village or area they actually came from. Or so I understand. We had such a great day. Judy from Tiandong was given the day off school and one of her Chinese teachers raced her down for the day. It is a very important week for the minority peoples of Guangxi and the majority Minority are the Zhuang (Djong).

Picture Name: Gan Zhuang Shan Festival (21) This is the photo that appeared in the local newspaper.

This is a much better copy as the photographer was too scared to ask us for a photo and played sneaky bugger instead. So the photo in the paper had the taker of this shot to the side of us which left us unfocused. But hey, we got in the local paper and 'Ya gotta be happy with that!' In this picture is Judy from Tiandong and my teacher buddy also named Judy. She can be unbelievably funny with her seriousness about English. Her desk is next to mine and we spend a lot of the time laughing. I call her 'pigs hoof' as the word Ju (say Jew) is Pig and Te is hoof, so if you say Judy slow enough your actually saying Pigs Hoof. Here she is dressed in her village colours.

We found a spot in the shade behind the huge tall hoop thingamabob and sat to chat until it was the girls turn to go walk about or play the hoop game. Love balls were being thrown at the hoop and landing on peoples heads, arms and legs. The hoop was pretty damn high so when the ball came down it landed pretty hard. I became a champion when I saved Lisa from being hit in the face. We were all talking and righ at the last moment I spotted the ball. I wasn't intending to catch it, more stop it from hitting either Lisa or myself. The balls were in a stocking type thing so you swing it and fling it free. When I put my hand up I actually caught the end of the stocking and the ball stopped right before Lisa's face. To make the situation even better I stood up and swung the ball around and flung it upwards. I expected it to go back over my head but it actually went up and right through the middle of the hoop. As I was the only foreigner there until Judy arrived of course everyone stopped to watch.

It was a nice applause!

Lisa and I headed up the mountain to the temple at the top. On the way hundreds were burning incense and paper money to the gods. I was pretty shocked to see that the money was actually called 'Hell Bank Notes' but Lisa was unable to explain why or their meaning of hell. The view from the top was just beautiful. It reminded me of a picture of 'The Shire' where the Hobbits live. The picture was drawn by Tolkein himself and in my illustrated copy of The Hobbit, before I gave my book collection away.

Oh it still pains me sometimes!

When we made it back to our group Judy from Tiandong (aussie) arrived and off we went back up the mountain. This time I took heaps of photos of the art work. It was just beautiful! We spent the next few hours walking around and watching the activities. My favourite was the wrestling where the wrestlers actually fought on a heap of tiny tomatoes. Then came the Chinese Dragons. Earlier that morning on the bus the girls had said there was going to be Line Dancing. Why Line Dancing I thought, maybe it was a Minority Line Dance. What they were actually saying was 'Lion Dancing' or what we call Chinese Dragons. They also had a game that was kind of like soccer or rugby but this game they used a small ball and threw it to each other.

The aim was to get it to the teams end and score by jumping over the line.

Lisa and I said our good byes to Tiandong Judy and the girls and headed home in the late afternoon for a rest. After several hours we gathered with the crowd in Tianyangs town square to watch the singing and dancing in the evening. We met some of her friends and rode on the back of their motorbikes back to the 'Strong Mountain' for a night full of BBQ and Beer. Unlike the day, the late evening was full of young peoples whom I was told 'most would spend the entire night drinking beer, eating bbq and frolicking in the fields'. My source quickly added 'of course that is only if they love each other'. Yes, of course. I wondered but never actually asked what happens if you love everyone like I do! Tee hee.

We finally made it home at some ungodly hour of the morning and my Gate Man greeted me with grunts and groans informing me of his happiness in my return.

Beers N Noodles to you...shane

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Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China

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