Sunday, January 4

More on Lanting - in China

I went to Lanting on two occasions.  The first time, with a student and we went to the main entrance and saw the main tourist area of this famous place which is a popular tourist spot.

The second time, in 2009, I was with another group - a class of students who had invited me to a BBQ on the Saturday.  I was given instructions to be at the West Gate by 7.30 am, and "not to bring a thing."  The day before was very wet and blustery and I was not surprised to receive a phone call on that Friday night, that the trip had been cancelled.  I did as usual wake early, and looking at the inclement weather outside was rather relieved that the function had been cancelled.  I lay in bed thinking and/or reading, as I had no need to hurry.  So I thought.

Not long after 7.40 am my phone rang.  "Diana, where are you?  We are waiting for you in the bus."
When the students phoned the bus company to tell them they were going to cancel, they were told that they would not get their money back.  So the bus trip was on - but they forgot to let ME know.  "We will wait for you."

I made a quick breakfast, had a fast shower, and dressed in quick time, grabbed a raincoat and umbrella and raced like a mad woman to the West Gate.  There waiting was the bus and the students. Along the way the students sang for me - I was especially taken with their rendition of "Click Go the Shears" in English and Chinese!

Off we set to Lanting - and to my surprise the bus stopped at another entrance. The rain was pelting down, but undaunted we proceeded on.  It was walking along the pathway with other students that I saw something that shocked me.  There to the left was a huge concrete penis reaching into the sky.  It must have been two or three stories high, poking up through the trees.  I stood gawping I think, and asked one of the students about it.  She - yes, it was a girl, but there were always more girls in classes than boys, and she paused briefly, shrugged her shoulders and said nothing.  Probably thought I was a dimwit, but it was something quite unexpected, but I was to learn later that this common in Chinese parks.  Apparently it was hollow - and men would stand within its dome to gain some sort of extra strength.  Mmmmm.

It was quite the strangest BBQ that I have ever attended.   Beside a dam, there were rough shelters and small tables with square holes in the centre, and some seats.  We had to choose our food - chicken, pork or dog.  Dog???!!  It was the first time I had been offered dog,   And of course I chose chicken.  When it arrived it nearly put me off chicken for good as it certainly didn't smell fresh.  Containers of other food arrived and soon a hot roasting contraption arrived, and was locked into the hole in the table.  Each student slid their chosen foods onto a skewer and held it in the coals.

It wasn't a meal that I remember with any pleasantness - especially as the students threw paper, food scraps and other debris on the floor which was amok with chickens picking up the pieces and pooing everywhere.  When I tried to explain to the students that throwing rubbish around like they did was not acceptable - I was politely told that it worked in China.  It fed the hens, and the staff got paid for cleaning it up - without the cleaning job they could not earn as much money.  True, but not what I was comfortable with.  The rain kept tumbling down.

After everyone had eaten enough, we set off for a walk around the park.  I saw many parts of it that I had not seen on my first visit and was pleased to have had the opportunity to see it all, and pleased to get away from the rubbish in the picnic area.

We were a wet and bedraggled group that returned and waited for the bus.  We walked back along the same route and this time I ventured away from the students and took a photo of the penis.  I can recall having many laughs when I showed the other foreign teachers.

Eventually our wet, tired and smelly group arrived at the West Gate.  As we were getting off the bus, one of the students told me the bus driver had a question for me.  She interpreted.  He wanted to know how old I was.

It was a common question - the Chinese folk always wanted to know where I was from, how old I was and how much I earned and I had a set patter for them.  I said I was 21.  The bus driver looked in shock momentarily and then burst our laughing as I exited the bus.




Read about my first visit to Lanting.

Read my other blog at my website here.

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