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Dining With Chickens at My Feet in a Small Village

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day to ya Smitten mate! Totally smitten! I've had a friend here in Shaowu since I first arrived at the school. We have always got along really well. She's a heap of fun and very fiesty, always trying to beat me or throw me off a balcony or the other way round. Though we've always had a heap of fun when we have been around each other it's never been anything more. Last week we met her and her friends in the street and she joined us for dinner. It would have been one of the first times we got through the night without throwing playful punches at each other. It was a great evening and very comfortable. Though I've known her for many months it's seriously like I'd never seen her face before as she always wears her long hair down which covers most of her face. The following afternoon she dropped by my place to say G'Day and punch me a few times and mate, I seriously didn't know who she was until I heard her voice. She had her hair up and no glasses on and that was it... Smitten, totally smitten! She invited Daniel, Alexa and I to her village where her family still live farming rice and tobacco. Yes! A village, how I really do miss villages. Anyone who reads my blog will know how much I love villages. Can't get enough of them after living in Tianyang and having many friends who lived in them. No concrete, dirt floors, chickens running in and out of the house, children running around chasing the chickens, single low wattage globes, pigs, piglets, roosters, rice fields, anything living being green, trees, woks the size of a table, big old tables the size of two woks, old people full of huge smiles, puddles, mud, small creeks, rivers, primitive farm machinery, wells, bugs, oxen's, goats, sounds, silence, smells, good smells, bad smells, unspeakable huge feasts, too much beer, too much rice wine... Villages, for some reason I love being in them. I've had so many great times in them. I used to love the huge feasts I shared with Mandy's family or Yang Yang's. The endless drunken 'Village Crawls' where a group of us would go from village to village drinking during the summer months. To get between the villages we had to all jump on the back of someone's three wheeler tractor thingymabob. My best buddy Hersher's girlfriend sometimes ringing and other times chasing him from village to village trying to get him to help out at the families 'Wok Em Up' where I used to eat each evening. There were so many villages that she rarely found us. Villages mate, an unbelievable amount of great memories from villages. We all met mid morning Sunday morning and grabbed a taxi 'type thing' and headed out into the country. We passed the little village where I spent a happy Spring Festival feasting with a friend's family and headed further out. We arrived nearing an hour later. The village was tiny and full of 'Tobacco' houses made of earth and wood. These are used to dry the tobacco after the tobacco harvest each year. Joyce's family's house was typical of this area from what I have seen of Fujian village houses. Made from stone bricks, two story with a balcony, a wok the size of a table, earth floors, big rooms with lots of people and chickens and a huge table to hold all the plates and bowls during huge family feasts. Not much more and not much more needed. After meeting Joyce's family and what seemed like the rest of the village we headed out for a tour around the village. About thirty seconds later we were back out front of Joyce's house again. We were then introduced to the pigs. Mumma pig had about eleven piglets and Alexa fell in love with them straight away. Poor Mumma pig hadn't slept for along time and didn't seem to be in a good mood at all. The piglets were only about three or four days old and continually hounded her for milk. On the wall in the hallway of the house was a rain jacket made from what seemed was horse hair. I don't think it was but it felt like it. It's used during the cold winter months out in the fields. Joyce quickly had me strapped into it and then it was outside for photos. We then headed out into the fields for a short time before it was 'Feast Time'. The food was more than plentiful and it was delicious! The duck was the most awesome. I wish I had seen this duck before it was cooked as there was so much meat! It must have been the fattest duck in all of China. There were so many bowls full of so many different types of meat and vegetables. Soon the local 'Joutsa' was brought out. Much larger in size than the normal joutsa and with a different filling. Also being green it is a different colour. So I guess the only thing it has on common with Joutsa is the shape. Spending time in villages really is such an amazing experience. The more time you spend in them the more normal things become. At the top of the strange differences list would be; usually back home when you eat dinner and your pet circles the table going from person to person staring up with big sad 'unfed' eyes, usually it's a dog or sometimes maybe a cat. Here in the villages it's chickens that circle your legs and the table staring up at you with little beady 'unfed' chicken eyes. Well I guess you must keep them well fed so they can keep you well fed. Here chic chic, have an entire joutsa! After lunch we were going to head out into the fields and climb one of the mountains but it began raining so instead we ventured into the kitchen and the 'ladies' taught us how to make the big green 'Joutsa'. I had made normal joutsa with Mandy and Yang Yang several times and thought my small joutsa were pretty cool. My efforts making the big green joutsa? Well Joyce was grading all of ours and my highest was a four. Oh well, no matter what my score was it was a privilege to be part of the kitchen tribe as these 'Joutsa' are special ones and are only made once a year. After our Big Green Joutsa Kitchen Adventure we grabbed a deck of cards and spent a few hours playing cards by the front door where on a warm day a elderly ladies would sit for hours eating seeds and staring out at the world. Around mid afternoon we abanded any thought of the rain stopping and called the 'cab type thing' and headed back to Shaowu. Once home Joyce and I decided to spend the afternoon together. We made our way up Temple Mountain and spent the afternoon chatting our way between the pagodas on Temple Mountain. As darkness began its war with the light we headed back to her side of our little city and filled what empty spaces were left in our bellies with Joutsa Soup. A very beautiful day indeed. Beers N Noodles to you...shane Oh yeah...I got an email from a friend asking me if I have found a girlfriend yet.

The answer to that goes pretty much like this. Maybe I get smitten sometimes. Meet a beautiful girl who I get along with really well but the chance of having a real girlfriend in a tiny city such as Shaowu is pretty much a 'No Chance' situation. I mean the hold hands when on walk about type girlfriend. Think about it, she would be the only girl in the tiny city with a foreign boyfriend. As close as Mandy, Yang Yang and I were and for such a long time, neither would have dinner alone with me at the market place. If they were together it was fine but after several times alone it became a no no. Why? Because everyone and I mean EVERYONE who walks past stares and most times it's not a quick stare but a long stare, like an Oh My God Moment type stare. They turn their children towards me and sometimes and even if the child is crying will push it towards me trying to get me to shake the child's hand. People nudge each other, call out to their friends and run to the front of the store to watch me walk past. The words 'Wai Gwor' and 'Lai Wai' are constantly heard everywhere I walk and to the million 'Hellows' I hear I usually try to reply to them. Even when Joyce and I walk around together she is amazed at how people stare. Others I walk with have the same amazement. They constantly ask, who's that? Do you know that person? Why does everyone stare at you? Does it bother me? No it doesn't. Honestly it never really has. Some foreign teachers end up hating it so much they leave China and go home. To me it's so normal that most of the time I don't notice it anymore. Plus I also love saying 'Hellow' to all the amazed kids. Here in Shaowu there is one other person who gets stared at more and when we walk together I can notice the difference between when I walk alone and with her and her boyfriend. All eyes are focused on Alexa, so Daniel and I can have a chance to be normal for a short time. So could you imagine being the only girl in a tiny city with a foreign boyfriend. Sure you say. Nah, it would be a total pain in the butt. Imagine the questions she would constantly get. I know the questions Mandy used to get and some of the things people used to say about her. I guess its fun for a short time but then it becomes too much. Sure I've tried it in the past but it's easier to simply be friends in public. In a big city, no worries mate. Minds and thoughts are different but not in a place so small. It takes a pretty tough cookie not to crumble!

On top of that it's very hard to meet a girl who can I can travel with. A lot of females if they are single wouldn't dream of travelling with a foreign guy alone or are simply told not to by friends and family. Remember, these are country families and not city families. There really is a big difference.

It would be nice though...the future holds what the future holds!

So for now, where do I sit in the world at this moment?

I sit rather comfortably. Infact, I am in the same world I would create if I was on a planet in a galaxy far far away dreaming of being somewhere other than on than planet in a galaxy far far away. My life is exactly as I want it to be. I have my children, there is my bike, I am surrounded by lush green fields where silence reigns, I am surrounded by happy smiling farmers, I have many friends, I'm communicating with my family so much more than before, my father is finally going to live his dream and travel and fish his way around Australia, I have my iPod (still with a working menu), I have my mobile phone/camera to capture the beauty of China (and some hearts!), Ting Tings Bar stocks Corona Beer, I have my beautiful school and its awesome staff, I have my computer (even though I threaten to throw it through the window every five minutes..Damn Snail!), I have Mizone for my rides, I have a normal washing machine and not a twin tub, right now I have REM on the iPod but most of all I have myself and my beautiful life.

Right now I am so grateful just to be me! Right now being me is an awesome thing to be! The soundtrack to this entry: REM's 'Monster'

Lunch at Joyces Village

Lunch at Joyces Village


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Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China

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