Rural China

Wow what can I say… Apparently “Rural China” means we stay in a top hotel in a city of a bit under half a million people. We spentthe mornings teaching teachers from across a few counties who teach in poorer rural schools and also some of their students. In the afternoons we went travelling around the various tourist attractions in the local area. We visited the largest lake in southern china and had a boat ride to a tropical island there where we spent a few hours swimming in the lake and exploring the island.

Another day we went to a model rural village – a few years back it was subsistance farming only but now thanks to quite a large investment it has been turned into a community producing perhaps as much as 1m yuan (70k gbp) each year – a lot in China where the average teaching wage is perhaps 25k yuan/year. We then visited some old houses which are now converted to be ancestor worship temples with various things to stop the evil sprits getting in.

We also went to a dinosaur egg exhibition – they recently uncovered 10000 odddinosaureggs and put them, on display. HOwever one egg looks pretty much any other. Outside this there wasa very tall old building which we climbed up to the top of and could see the whole of Heyuan from. There was a small room on top in which we sang some songs etc. Had a little wander around the small village nearby after, which was quite run down and probably more like the average chinese village. The people there were all very nice though, but quite a few didn’t really want their photos taken.

The young communists were very amicable and we had several outings with the teachers on which we could get to know them better and chat about deep issues. Towards the end of the week we held a Q&A session at the hotel which was very well attended. On the sunday we went to the local three-self church and were very warmly received. We sang some English Christian songs but the language barrier was quite considerable. Amazed by the men-women ratio begin about 1:10 – a common problem in Chinese churches apparently.

On the last day we wereinvited to a retreet place about 2h drive along mountain roads. About half the group went and with several other teachers and communist party members. It was all for free and we were asked to advertise it amongst our friends. Usually very dubious about such things but this was actually really good. It was run by a chinese former Engish-teacher named Jason and some british investment. Also involves the local community so prospers them and Jason seems very caring as well. THough we were only there for 15 hours in was amazing. It was ina dip surrounded by mountains, the only thing other than green forest being the village itself. Upon arrival we went white-water rafting along the river and then had a wonderful dinner/kareoki session and then spent the rest of the evening playing mafia in the hot springs which the place in famour for. Went to bed about midnight and then a few of us got up at 4 at my instigation and climbedto the top of one of the mountains to see in the sunrise. It was amazing but after the half-way point the pathbecame disused so we had to cut our way through what was pretty much jungle to recover the trail. Was amazing seeing the first bits of sunrise and took many photos but alas the fog closed in just before 6 and we did not get to see the true sun-rise as we had to pack and have breakfast by 7:30.

All-in-all an excellent week! Now back in Shen Zhen for the next two and a half weeks teaching English-the firstkids arrive on Saturday sewe have 2 days of peace and quite to prepare before then.

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