As promised, I’m here to share about my visit to a local village house in Wuyuan. Like Alice stepping into a Wonderland, I was amused, by every corner and every turn.
This is a world different from the urban life I’m familiar with, and I was appreciative of my hospitable driver, Mr Chen, who offered me the interesting experience of visiting his father’s (let’s call him Grandpa Chen) place!
A typical gate to a local unit.
Note the red tab with 4 stars? This is a credit rating given to each household by the county government! Ranging from 1 – 4 stars, with 4 being the highest. I’m not too sure if I’d be comfortable with disclosing my family’s credit rating to anyone outside the walls… Oh well, but this is a country where personal privacy and rights are not duely respected (I’ve had more than enough first-hand experience dealing with annoyances myself).
Above is a photo of a living room taken in a “sample house” available for public viewing.
Below is the living room of Mr Chen’s father. Completely different, I know.
However, you can see the resemblance in their preservation of the Hui architecture style – squarish living room with a squarish table against the front wall that would typically be decorated with calligraphic or artistic pieces.
A disorganised chaos, one might call this… Yet, there’s an element of homeliness and humanity in there. Grandpa Chen took pride in walking his foreign visitor around the house, recollecting his household possessions by their decades and even centuries of age.
“They are memories of the old generations,” he told me.
I was also shown to a guest room where a 300 year-old wooden bed frame was kept.
“If you laid a layer of mattress and blanket, it’s as functional as new,” said Grandpa Chen
As friendly as its owners, this little puppy was not at all hostile or shy upon sighting an unfamiliar face. It would close its eyes in enjoyment if you stroke it on the head, unassumingly. I found my heart melted instantly for this cutie.
The dim lighting and cluttered interior were sworn foes to the picturesque landscape outside. However, the vintage disarrangement was cheerful to look at, and humbling in a thousand ways. You could easily find contentment in the villagers’ eyes as they sit by the well-shaded alleys and people-watch with a lit up pipe, or stroke a docile puppy, or pick up a sleepy child and huddle off to an afternoon siesta. They aren’t rich, materially. But they are rich people whose wealth comes from a genuine contentment from living a righteous, laborious and dignified life.
My Chen has moved out and started his own family in the main county. But he wished to return to his old village after retirement because “that’s where I belong. The peaceful and quiet life is what I enjoy the most,” he said. “Tourism provided us with better jobs, and even ‘free money’, as tour agencies have to pay the villages lump sums of money every year in exchange for permission to conduct tourism activities. It’s good money… but I hope they don’t change our old lives too much. I hope.”
The Rest of My Wuyuan Story（另见婺源）:
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