Wednesday, January 02, 2013

China Winter Tour - December 30

Robin Reif - December 30

Curious about those night-crowing roosters (see Dec 28) . . . once back at the hotel, we look out the rear windows and find a scene of hardscrabble farms cut into the hillside. The landscape is rich in wintery greens and browns but bring the lens in closer and see open doors of unheated homes where people live in layers and refrigerate cabbages and meat on the back porch. In the morning, we hear blood-curdling screams and realize a pig is being slaughtered.
Ya'an Rear Window Scene
Later, on the road to Chengdu, a mega-tropolis of 14 million, Bobby tells us that several centuries back it was a ghost town due to war and famine and people from the North were forced here walking the six week journey, roped in a line with hands tied behind their backs. All this to explain that “please release my hands” is Sichuanese for "I need to go to the happy house" or toilet.

When we stop for lunch in a restaurant's private room, the teens ask for time alone without parents to talk about adoption, inviting the younger kids to join.
Mr. Wu shooing parents away
My 11-year-old glows at being included by older girls who seem so cool and untouchable. Their stories—some of abandonment at 4 and 5, some of orphanage stays until 8 or 9—are a revelation to her and I realize she thought that all Chinese children are adopted as infants. Clearly, my bad.
Preparing for foot message
Toward evening, many of us decide to try the famous local Chengdu foot massage, which turns out to be a full body experience. Let me say I would not recommend it to the faint of heart, nor tender of foot. My masseuse, a wee young thing, maybe 5 feet and 100 pounds giggled at my attempts to tough it out. I leave feeling like chicken paillard. Or maybe just chicken.

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