Noilly Prattle: China – Winter 2016 (an unexpected pleasure)

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

China – Winter 2016 (an unexpected pleasure)

     A day that was evolving into a disaster turned out to be a greater pleasure than the original plan might have been.

        We had originally planned to bike about 9km to a site called White Dragon Pool. The directions offered by the Cat-o lady seemed straightforward enough but turned out to be rather convoluted with false starts and road confusion. There were several people hanging around a store so we decided to stop and try to get directions. With the usual language problems and body and sign language, etc. we finally seemed to have found the correct road. Unfortunately, our butts were already sore from our bicycle outing a couple days earlier. A strong wind was rising that irritated and exacerbated Road Buddy's eye problem and required more strength and energy to pedal than we had bargained for. So we gave it up after a couple of kilometers and doubled back to Shaxi.

Tea and Horse Road sculpture
roof tile construction site
        Then, just as we were about to turn off the main road back into town (there is a sculpture of a scene from the Tea and Horse Road days), I noticed an unusual looking structure across the highway and decided it looked like a good photo op. It turned out to be a construction site for making roof tiles with a huge circular kiln, but it had an abandoned look that made it even more interesting for a few shots.

our bicycles parked off site on the road
steps along the inside wall of the kil

tea pot

the large circular kiln for firing roof tiles

neighbors cooperating to raise a new house
man debarking and hewing
wooden beams by hand
        After my photo shoot around the kiln we decided to brave the bicycle seats and continue west on the side road that sloped up to some small rural villages. We never got as far as any villages, but ran across different rural life activities to shoot: a kind of Chinese style barn raising where neighbors were cooperating to raise a new house; people working in the fields.

partially finished house on the left
        Further up the road I glimpsed another new house with its ribs still exposed showing the construction technique. I had been wanting to take some photos of house construction techniques and this provided a golden opportunity to do so. 

the house gets it stability from the thick adobe (mud and straw) walls 

fields and irrigation reservoir
old house ruin
        A little higher up the road (butts complaining) we came across a picturesque ruined building by an irrigation reservoir (as well as couple of curious cows) which afforded a few more photo ops.

R U lookin' at me 

        Fortunately for our sore butts, the return to Shaxi was all downhill which took the pressure off our seats since we could stand on the pedals a little. The unexpected side trip turned out to be more interesting than if we had managed to get to the White Dragon Pool, which is probably just another touristy site anyhow.

        We returned to the Cato Inn pretty sore and stiff and tired, but had to do some laundry since we were leaving Shaxi the next day heading for what turned out, unexpectedly, to be the last leg of our China trip—a 2-week stay in Shuhe/Li Jiang and a different ethnic minority, the Naxi people, another three hours by car to the north.

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