China, "A Forgotten Path", 2014

China is a country living in the shadow of a distant past. Often, I long to go back to this vast land shaped by many years of cruelty under Mao, powerful empresses, and painful customs like the feet binding endured by little girls. My deep affection for China might be a result of the scenes that visit me often, scenes from my previous trips and the books that I had read of Pearl S. Buck and others. Men and women in decaying bodies and ragged uniforms of dark blue of the communist era stroll along the dusty roads of remote towns, restless and afraid to face the present. The Chinese peasants working with a steady rhythm from when the night meets the day until the day sinks back into the night. Young girls devoted to serve walking in haste in the empty courtyards of houses no women can leave. 
A forgotten path takes us 
to the next village 
through suspended fog
         Haiku, Belgin


In 10 years that we had been away, Yangshuo in the southern China's Guangxi region, was transformed from the isolated quiet town it was to a tourist destination for Chinese. We still had a great time and made friends with a woman of 50's called herself Esther.  While we were having lunch she came by selling wooden ducks and offered us a night tour to see cormorant fishing. After a hike up the Chin Moon Hill we met with the woman again for the incredible adventure from which later on my daughter wrote a short story.

The next day we took bamboo rafts on the waters of the Yulong River, which is a tributary of the Li River among the dramatic karst landscape.

A glimpse of the sun
on the white butterfly's wing
a faraway land


Silhouettes of time
like an antique Chinese king 
falls the bamboo leaf 

Town of Xingping on the river has many buildings dating back to the Qing and Ming dynasties.

The following day we visited the Dragon Bridge. The town was empty surrounded by fields of green. We started walking in the tiny dirt paths among the farms. A peasant gave us mandarins more than we could carry and pointed to our empty pockets as a place to store them. Without the thought of having to return we walked until we started to feel our leg muscles. There was no one to be seen. The amazing lightness of being lost surrounded us. It was fine. We waited. A man with an open truck soon approached us.

Huangluo Yao Village is one of the thirteen Yao ethnic villages in the Longji Area. A custom of red Yao ethnic is that all females should keep a long hair. We saw a performance by these beautiful ladies where they display the hair that they had been tending for many years.

We traveled to the Dragon Backbone (Longji) Rice Terraces in the Longsheng County of the Guangxi region in April just when farmers start planting and irrigating the rice fields with water. Dazhai, which is home to Yao minorities was where we chose to stay since it was less visited than the other nearby towns. On the narrow pathways shared with many minorities of the region we walked for many hours through endless terraces and villages with houses built on top of each other.

In the ancient town of Jiangtouzhou, while walking on the rained stones, along the stone buildings dating from Ming and Qing dynasties, it seemed like history was our sole companion. The only people we came across was a group of locals who invited us to have soup with blood and chicken feed, which would have been impolite to reject.I was ignored when some kind of a strong liquor was offered to my husband.

This group of shy men wanted to get a photo with us.I asked  what they thought of Mao. They responded with a respectful silence. 

Shanghai was colourful with dumpling and pancake stalls, street hairdressers, trees in bloom and the lights of the night. We went to see an opera where singers were pitching songs in their highest vocal range and were still not intense enough to wake my husband.  The ancient Chinese art displayed at the Shanghai museum was spectacular. 

A trip to Luzhi in Jiangsu Province is a journey to a time in the past. Some of its old canals and bridges were built during the the Song Dynasty.


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