The View of Rural China

February 17, 2009
By Bridget Hughes BRONZE, Fleetwood, Pennsylvania
Bridget Hughes BRONZE, Fleetwood, Pennsylvania
2 articles 0 photos 0 comments

I had woken up to the noise of the train screeching to a stop. I looked at my watch to find my destination would still not be reached for another twelve hours. I was on a train in china and three months had passed since I first began my attendance at a public high school in Beijing. It was my first trip out of the city and excitingly I moved back the blind and peaked my head out the window. The mystic, ancient mountains were being smothered and suffocated by the massive colonies of clouds. I wish I could get a whisk of that air I had been intoxicated for three months now from the Beijing smog and each day have been longing for a whiff of fresh air. I have now been on this train for twenty-four hours which does not seem long; however, sitting in on small suffocating bunk for over five hours, non the less twenty, is by far more uncomfortable then can be stressed. I walked down corridors to see most of the people still asleep. They had all been excited to return to their hometowns I had heard from our conversations. Most were migrant workers sent to Beijing for jobs to support their families. I remembered the scene back in Beijing. Small cardboard built boxes that were sufficed as huts painted with dust and testing gravity to its highest by mostly leaning to one side. About three refrigerator boxes would house five workers if they were given the chance to sleep that night. The building was half built and workers sitting on nothing but thin robes knotted in a textbook size wooden board, being lowered down the building for construction. I saw there little lunch boxes beside their beds were the only luggage they had brought. They each had so much pride, honor, and self-respect. They were serving there own purpose in life and affecting everyone they helped by spreading hope with there smiles and love with there voices. It is mind blowing to see businessmen on the subway bickering at one another and taking deserving people's seat as if their tailored pinstriped suit gave them authority over everyone else. And next to them migrant workers in dirty scruffy clothes they had been wearing for over a week without wash, helmets by there sides, and so much peace shown behind there restless faces, tired and warn down often not even capable of holding themselves up from lack of sleep but still offering their seat to anyone who came on the cart. I was glad they had the chance to return home to their families after working many months away in bad conditions. Finding no one awake to start a conversation with I walked back to my suffocating cart and sat down staring out the window. After I reached my destination I was put on a four hour bus ride as if we hadn't sat enough.
What was greeting me off the thirty-six hour travel made me regret complaining about the conditions of my prolonged trip. It was absolutely stunning and we were told that the best view had not been seen yet. It was a small village old and run down but each crack had a tail of hundreds of years. After I trekked safely through the rushing water and climbed over gravel and trees I finally got to the outside dirt path of the village. Different smells of food could be picked up in the winds lightly blowing scent. It was near dinner and I wish it had been earlier so I could find out some of the many secrets this town held. I walked to the thick doorway to my circle Tulo to where I would house for the next few days. The dust rose from the earth in the middle as the chickens ran across the floor. It was completely open to the sky and for the most part the middle was a kitchen and chicken coupe. There were three floors that held many doors on their walls, which seemed to be the resident's bedroom. They had one communal bathroom and kitchen for each Tulo, which held over one hundred people, and in our town there were four round Tulos. Buckets were also located out of each room that sufficed as private bathrooms.
Before I could grasp the image I was rushed in for dinner with my new host family. Everything was made on a fire for there was no electricity except the lighting in the room. They would place a huge iron basin in the middle of the fireplace and cook each meal productively. The people had seemed so honored to be able to house me but not nearly as I was to have the opportunity to stay here. I could already tell the roles of my family. There was a 92 year old women smoking a hand rolled cigarette through her big gap in her mouth behind her wrinkled hidden face. She had a few rags rapped around her body but the happiness held under her wrinkles in her four tooth smile made her capable of wearing a ball gown. She helped make the food with her daughter. I helped were they would let me and soon we began to fill the table with varieties of foods. Different foods all with different spices I had not yet tasted in Beijing. With my tongue still tingling from the different spices I walked out into the dark mysterious night with my flashlight and started my walk. I passed down the river to the other side of the mountain to where I could see an open sky. It was a sight missed the thousands of starts that were stretched across the skylight up my heart and I could not begin to explain my excitement it was such a change from the Beijing clear night, which brought a miraculous three stars if it was a good lucky day. I lay under the sky to look up at the stars. My mind flashed back to the city workers how much they must have missed their homes! How much I have missed mown. I looked back to the differences of Beijing and Fujian not only was the weather her much warmer but the culture as well. Everyone had a peace about themselves as if stress was a non-existent word. They took their own pace with everything. They lived in the town did there jobs, harvested there fields, made the food, raised the animals for slaughter, and repeated this on a daily basis for survival. What a wonderful life without money and greed. My mind and thoughts were washed away from my head as I saw a shooting star. After it began to get late I decided to go around town and start conversations with the local people. I had soon learned from the Mayor that at this time of year no more then 100 people were in town because the rest were working in cities. I had also learned they leave at the age of 18 and return in their 40s to continue working the fields. Their town held so many secrets and the wisest of them all had the most stories. She was 106 years of age this year and I wished to meet her however after my search I never found her. Tired and weary and afraid of getting sick I retired to my bed at 10:00.

I woke up to my alarm ringing at 5:30, it was still dark but I promised myself I would climb the mountain to see the view. I got up just in time to see the sun peaking behind the farther south mountain basking its light onto the gloomy town that had still not woken up. I heard the rooster begin to crow as I sat down taking full advantage of the view. Wishing I could sit for hours at this miraculous indescribable scene I relentlessly got up and made my way down the mountain about to board my train back to Beijing to start school once again.

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This article has 1 comment.

ati said...
on Mar. 9 2009 at 2:36 am
Great work. East adn west cultures seem to blend in this writing.

Interesting style and humanitarian perspective. Good read.

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