I’ve talked a lot about the villages surrounding us, but I recently realized that I’ve never showed them to you. Let’s correct that.
Villages, like you’ll see below, are scattered all over our section of northeast China. Several are within walking or biking distance from the expat village. Many more are visible from the highways linking Haiyang to Qingdao and Yantai.
What do they have in common? The same orange tile roofs. Stray dogs searching for food from the villages’ open, stinky trash pits. Folks whose hard work out in the fields is evident from their darker skin shades in comparison to the city slicks of China. Many of whom seem shocked by a laowai’s presence on their home turf, though others could care less about our existence. Kids of all ages out playing who shout “Hello!” to us as we walk or bike past in the summer evenings. Grandmas with plump grandbabies on their laps and groups of older men sitting on small wooden stools, smoking and chit-chatting.
How do they differ? Some have narrow, paved roads. Others just have dirt lanes. Some villages have more friendly folks than others. Some might even have an adult who can speak broken English. In one village, a proud woman who looked to be in her mid-thirties to mid-forties proudly told us in English that she was standing in front of “her house.” Some have community buildings like a family planning office; others are just made up of houses. Some have fancy new signs stating the village name in both Chinese characters and pinyin; the rest have older, ho-hum ones or none at all. One might be a fishing village. Another a farming village. Some might have a reputation. Word on the street is that one close to us is where the ladies of the night hang out. Some might have a specialty. As the sun was setting last Saturday evening, we rode through a village we had never been to. After a near run-in with a German shepherd, we came upon what looked to be a scene from the movie Saw. Turns out we encountered a group of mink farmers in the midst of skinning the small creatures. Not a pretty nor sanitary sight: men in shorts, t-shirts, and flip-flops working amongst piles of fleshy carcasses and others of freshly peeled off pelts. All of this happened while a group of villagers ranging in age from young kids to old-timers casually hung out around the warehouse.
We never know what we’ll come across as we head into these villages. Sometimes it feels like we’re intruding, but we’re just curious and interested in seeing how other people in other cultures live. Isn’t everyone?
Village of Bali Sun
Village of Zhai Qian
A Nameless Fishing Village (located across the street from Zhai Qian)
Village of (what I think is named) Gao Jia