Tag Archives: China

China July 2011: Week 2

July 8 morning. We took off from Guiyang to Beijing, where guides will take us to the Great Wall. After two weeks of training down the mountains, no doubt, climbing the Great Wall will no longer be a problem.

July 7 morning. Volunteers from GSP attended farewell service activities Xijiang with Chinese villagers. They drove to Kaili, they will stay here one night, the next day and then depart for Guiyang Airport. They enjoyed a morning along the beautiful and tranquil rural setting, while at night resting Kaili is such a busy city scene, forming a strong contrast.

A little morning downpour delayed the starting time.  We were finally on the road, traveling carefully from the top of the village, to the foot of the mountain by car with four horses laden with all the baggage behind them. These horses usually transfer goods up and down the mountain for the village.

After leaving the West River, we traveled through several Hmong villages, but also through the beautiful national parks, seeing breathtaking waterfalls that the morning rain help make even more spectacular.

July 6. This is our last day of our homestay with villagers.  We worked together to make terraced rice fields after cultivation. The villagers filled the paddy fields with reclaimed water and drove a water buffalo to plow back and forth. We put on our Gaotong boots, jumped into the fields and began to sow the paddies with good seed.  It took only four days from the completion of land reclamation to the seeding process. Everyone is so excited, this experience will be their lasting memories.

After dinner, the our team was divided into groups for new tasks.  Some went to the vegetable Zecai, some took care of the pigs and horses, some went to mow, and some helped the villagers carry supplies.

After the day’s labor, we readily took a bath, gathered in the mayor’s home office to eat hot pot of sour fish soup. After dinner, everyone was taken to an open space, where the villagers put on a great holiday dress was worn by the Miao, blowing Lusheng, sang songs, and danced makeing a grand farewell party.

(Qi Gao p’10)

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China July 7, 2011

We just pulled into Kaili tonight and we’re spending one night here before heading west to Guiyang to the airport.  It’s quite a contrast to have been in such a beautiful and rural place in the morning and sleep in an urban bustling city like Kaili tonight.

Last night was our last one with host families in Xijiang.  You will be amazed by the photos your kids have taken.  We finished the rice paddy and were able to see it flooded and plowed by a bull lead by a man directing a handmade plow blade.  He was barefoot.  Later kids put on their mud boots and waded through the paddy to help evenly distribute the topsoil they had so laboriously spread and rid of rocks the day before. It’s unbelievable that we were able to build a complete rice paddy in four days from start to finish.  It’s something they’ll never forget.

After lunch kids helped their families with daily chores like cutting vegetables from fields as high on the mountain as our rice paddy was. Other kids helped cut grass and other greens to be fed to pigs, horses and other animals.  Some helped restock a small village store with supplies.  Once cleaned up we gathered at our house, a large home owned by the former village chief, for a traditional fiest of delicious food and the customary hot-pot sour fish soup.  After dinner we were invited up to an open area where our host families and other local villagers put on the Miao clothing reserved for festivals and other special occasions.  They played the luschent (my phonetic spelling for what is a bamboo reed flute) and sang songs and performed dances.  We’d seen a tourist version of this in town, but it had so much more meaning when performed especially for us and by people we’d come to know well.

This morning it poured rain which delayed our departure by a little over an hour.  Since we have been living high on a hillside we had to walk down to get onto our bus (driven by what must be the most skilled driver in China–Mr. Yang).  Our luggage was brought down on the backs of four different horses used throughout the village for hauling stuff up and down the hills.  When we departed Xijiang we drove west through other Miao villages and we hiked through a beautiful national park to view a stunning waterfall. This morning’s rain made it even more beautiful.

Tomorrow we leave early for our drive to the Guiyang airport.  We are on a late afternoon flight to Beijing.  We’ll be met by new guides. Our itinerary is full starting with a hike up a section of the Great Wall.  We’ve hiked UP HILL so much that this should be no problem at all.  We’ll see western tourists for the first time in two weeks.  Honestly, it feels like we’ve had China all to ourselves.

See you soon.  We’ll write again from Beijing if we get the chance.

Erin (on behalf of Sandra, Michael and Marie).

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China June 2011: July 5 Update from Erin

Hello China families,
I just had a brief conversation with trip leader Erin Sio and she told me that things are going great!  They were on a night hike to a high vantage point so that they could get the best view of their village from the night sky perspective.  I could hear the students excitedly chatting in the background.
Erin told me the group is great, the homestays have been wonderful and everyone is working really hard.  They are, however, “off the grid” and have no access to internet.  We are trying to get some photos to share with you and upload to the blog.

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China June 2011: We’ve Arrived!

Outside of their service work, GSP team members spent 1.5 hours of mountain walking and visited Guizhou Miao unique batik workshop. The group then traveled to Kaili for a visit to experience local folk customs.
(Qi Gao p’10)

The group visited the Guizhou batik museum today. Batik is a traditional art form still practiced today in ethnic minority areas in southwest China’s Guizhou area. It is used to decorate scarves, weiyao, skirts, leggings, umbrellas, and pillow coverings. Each ethnic group has unique batik style.

After visiting the batik museum, the group traveled to Kaili by bus. Kaili is a city in the Qiandongnan Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture, in which a significant population of Miao and Gejia live. The city hosts more than 120 Miao festivals throughout the year. The arts and crafts of the Miao, including jewelry, embroidery, brocade, batik, and paper cutting, are world renowned.
(Jimmy Ren p’11)

June 27, 2011

The Wanggongmiao maintenance work continues, with the repair work in progress. We start painting the walls and the façade, and Wanggongmiao begins to transform.
(Qi Gao p’10)

Today the group continued its work at the Wanggong Temple house renovation. All group members were very much involved, and enjoyed what they were doing. However, they seemed not quite accustomed to using squat toilets.

A squat toilet is used by squatting, rather than sitting. There are several types of squat toilets, but they all consist essentially of a hole in the ground. The only exception is a “pedestal” squat toilet, which is the same height as a standard flush toilet. It is also possible to squat over standard Western pedestal toilets, but this requires extra care as they are not specifically designed for squatting.
(Jimmy Ren p’11)

June 26, 2011

Members of the GSP were actively involved in maintenance of local Wanggongmiao. They carried out pouring of cement, handling, cleaning, and a series of manual labor tasks. Their work was covered by a local television news video team, which was broadcast that night.
(Qi Gao p’10)

June 25, 2011

Members departed for Jichang village, Anshun, to start their voluntary service activities. They visited Guiyang Jiaxiu we along the way, and Guizhou in the local characteristics of the Chinese taste. They experienced the afternoon rush in Jichang village, and arrived in the evening.
(Qi Gao p’10)

George School’s Global Service Program China 2011 started with Guiyang, Guizhou Province, China on Jun. 25th. Ren Xinxing ’11 joined the group at the hotel, and then they visited a famous scenic spot of Guiyang, the Jiaxiu Pavilion that was built in the 26th year (1598) of the reign of Wanli, Ming Dynasty.

The Pavilion straddles a huge turtle-like rock in the Nanming River in the south of Guiyang City. An imperial inspector, Jiang Dongzhi, built the pavilion and named it Jaixiu because he believed the people in Guiyang were the most talented in world. The pavilion and some other buildings around it combine to form a harmonious scenic architectural complex, customarily known as “Eight Scenes of a Mini West Lake.”

It is a three-storied building 20-meter-high with three eaves and a pointed top, containing carved windows and red lattices and upturned eaves on all sides. In this pavilion, there is a collection of stone engravings, calligraphy works, paintings and woodworks by ancient artists. Among them, there is a long antithetical couplet with 206 characters written by Liu Yushan, a member of the Imperial Academy from Guiyang, in the Qing Dynasty, which has 26 more characters than that one in Daguan Pavilion in Kunming, which claims to be the longest one in the world.

After a vegetarian lunch, the group went to Jichang Village, Anshun. Jichang Village is home of the Tunbao people, one of the groups of people from the Han nationality. (Tunbaoren, in Chinese, means descendants of stationing troops.) According to historical data, they are the descendants of the stationing troops in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), who were ordered by the Ming emperors to station in Southwest China. They settled down there and took up farming and were seldom disturbed by outside visitors.
(Jimmy Ren p’11)

Friday, June 24, 2011

After more than ten hours of flight and road bumps, George School’s GSP (Global Service Program) China 2011 members arrived in Guiyang City, Guizhou Province, China.
(Qi Gao p’10)

I just spoke with Erin Sio from the Guiyang airport. They have arrived safe and sound and have been in touch with their Chinese guide who is there to pick them up.
(Pauline McKean)

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