Maria Holland

China Day 3 – Long Walk and Junk Yards

In Public, Uncategorized on May 26, 2007 at 12:05 pm

I did my usual 3 o’clock wake-up to the bright morning sun and the crowing of roosters. But then I went back to sleep until 8. We had a breakfast of oats and then Amanda, Rose Mary, and John Alan set out for the airport to recover their lost luggage. Jesse, Tanner, Ian, and I went out for the long tour of the farm.


It was a beautiful day – the Communists finally let the sun come out! We started off with the spring and shepherd’s house again, then continued down the crummy military road to the site where the family’s house was supposed to have been built. At some point, we left the road and went cross-country, which required us to cross a few shaky log bridges. It was there that we encountered an interesting phenomenon known as ‘lumpy grass’, to use a technical term. As Jesse put it, “it’s like walking across the surface of a golf ball.”  The height difference between a patch of lumpy grass and the normal ground is shown here:

Then we trekked through some woods that had not recently been visited by humans. We eventually stopped on a hill less than a kilometer from the Russian border and talked for a while. From our vantage point, you could easily see the guard tower and the cut-away line across the mountains that indicated the neutral zone surrounding the border.


On the way back to the house, we passed more ginseng farmers and squatters. One family had even built their house less than 6 feet away from the engraved concrete gateposts that indicated the extent of the farm’s property!


We tried to be sneaky as we approached, but finally just crossed their garden in plain daylight. Only a woman with her baby was home, and Jesse said she was probably very afraid of us because she thought we were Russian soldiers.

We arrived at the cafeteria, wet and dirty, just in time for lunch. Some interesting surprises awaited us – cow stomach lining, and the feet, hearts, and unhatched eggs of the chickens that were slaughtered this morning. Yum! Despite the definitely-foreign foods, the style of eating started to feel familiar to me.


I got in a shower and a nap before Jesse, Tanner, Edwin, and I went shopping. When the girls and grandmother heard that we were going ‘shopping’ they wanted to go, at least until they realized that the shopping was going to take place in a junkyard. It was an interesting experience. There were enormous (over 2 foot) springs that I couldn’t even begin to compress with all my body weight. I’m easily distracted, so I spent much of the time climbing over rusty piles of metal, which abounded. I figure that’s a good way to get tetanus; I was just testing our insurance policy. I took some video, which I plan on showing to Dr. Patton to see if she has a heart attack.  The random mortar rounds also added some excitement to an otherwise ‘normal’ junkyard. 



Meanwhile, Tanner and Edwin both found pathetic pieces of tape measure and were looking for certain diameter pipes. We bought some pipe and a piece of steel for the tail, and then met up with Melody and Ian.

At the second junkyard, there were a bunch of Chinese boys unloading stuff. They stared openly at Melody and I as we walked past, and when we were about 20 yards beyond them, one yelled “Hello?” I turned and waved at him; I thought it was funny. Jesse said it was fairly unusual for 7 Americans to walk into their junkyard, and I guess I could see that. Apparently speaking English well gets Chinese and Koreans the admiration of their peers, and speaking it incorrectly is one way to ‘lose face’. It was at this junkyard that we had our first experience with Chinese geese, but this one was asleep (and by ‘asleep’, of course I mean ‘dead’). Another interesting thing I noted about these junkyards: they were both next to churches. Because they were obviously churches, they must have been Three-Self, which is the only nationally recognized religion.

When we were loading the generators we bought into the car, Jesse commented on how surprised the Chinese man must have been, to open the back of the truck and see a bearded white man in a hat. Tanner and I were both confused and asked, “There’s a bearded white man with a hat in the back of the truck??”, thinking for some reason that he had meant a man with a white beard. Of course, he was talking about Ian . . . it reminded me of the scene in Dodgeball: “There’s a guy who dresses like a pirate on our team?”

Amanda, Rose Mary, and John Alan had spent all day at the airport, waiting for their bags to come in. Then, to top it all off, Amanda left her wallet in the taxi, and they had to coordinate its return. When they finally got back to the house, we had dinner – leftover lamb ribs from the night before, salad, fruit, and homemade tapioca pudding. I set up the software for the weather station, and then, around 8:30, cuddled up on the [ridiculously hard] couch for a nap. Everyone was lounging around in various stages of sleepiness when I fell asleep, but when I woke up at 10 o’clock, the lights were off and only Ian and I were left. Another early night in China.

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