A Day In The Country

A few months before she left for China, London read an article in the New York Times about an idylic Chinese village. Written by an American teaching in China, the essay traced a typical day, from early morning exercises to evening feasting. Haircuts, ear cleaning, endless cups of tea, the whole life of the village serenely filled the market. London wished for a similar experience.

An inter-town bus.

an inter-town bus The vehicle does not leave the terminus until it's full.
For the outing, London's friends chose a farming community two hours away from Hangzhou. The first leg of the journey to a nearby town was by bus, followed by a bone-jarring ride in a taxi. What the tiny van lacked in springs, it made up for in nonstop horn. main market
The main market of village Long Men (Dragon Gate). Note the plastic rain/sun shield near the beams carved in the Ming dynasty more than 300 years ago.
sweet fried bread Sweet fried bread, a homemade "Dunkin Donuts"
village life

All village life zips
or waddles through the market.

  village life
Members of the Old Men's Society. Old Men's SocietyOld Men's Society
Stringing badminton rackets

Like villages everywhere, young men have left for the city to earn money, leaving behind old men, women and children.

In rich villages, every backyard has a little factory. In Long Men, an average village, industry is not so obvious. For the most part, villagers string badminton rackets at 2 cents each.

A beauty salon A beauty salon

The village has more than a few beauty parlors.
As London meanders among the wizened Ming beams, she fantasizes about the past glories of Long Men. Bejeweled men and women in silken robes once whiled away the day drinking the finest teas in China.    Zhang Peili, London, and Chu Ge Artist Zhang Peili, London, and photographer Chu Ge

The magnificent Ming carvings accentuate the shoddiness of village dwellings. Standing in the midst of the faded but palpable splendor of Ming remains, China's persistent attachment to tradition can be readily understood.

As the bus bumped its way back to Hangzhou, London thought, what a perfect day in the country. Nothing really happened.

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