The two last letters have been sent from the english teachers computer. Yesterday we download Google Earth, chinese version, and I sat there telling about Denmark in maps and pictures for hours. It was 11 pm. when he suddenly got real worried and wanted me to go back home in a hurry. The gate was also locked, so without his help I probably would have had to stay.
I`ve realized that he feels responsible for me, like he might have done also two years ago. It`s a nice attitude, but almost too much. On one hand I can take care of myself - I think - on the other I think he exagerates the dangers here in China walking back a lightened main street at night. I definitely prefer to walk back here in the rural Maoxian than some place in Noerrebro in Denmark. According to the sign down at the crossroads there`s 172 km to Songpan. According to my german map around 114 km. I think we have to trust the first - sorry germans! It took 9 hours, which makes an average of less than 20 km/h - speed for a bicycle - but not on this kind of road. This makes it crystal clear what kind of problems they`re still dealing with here. According to the english teacher the road will be finished this october. "It must", he says, so somebody has established a deadline. But it`s hard to believe when you see all the work that`s done by hand. The pillars for the bridges are produced on the spot after the iron "armour" has been "yielded" by hand. Bridge elements to connect them are produced by construction sites along the road and having had wheels in front and end they`re rolled to where they`re needed. The crane to take them to the right position is the most advanced here. Differently perhaps with the tunnels? But all the rest along the road, which means the edges and the canals for the water are constructed by hand and THAT many workers seem not to be here. Maybe he`s just speaking of the distance from Wenchuan to Maoxian?
In town the water truck seems to be on its way forever, especially in the detour
road here behind that leads the traffic from Wenchuan on to Songpan. They don`t
try to remove the dust and the mud, that would be impossible - they try to
reduce it. The wind and the cars will make new supplies arrive. And it`s not
only the roads that do it. The construction sites in town also contributes. But
in the future - in the future it might look like the big posters that cover the
wall around the new museum and cultural center for the qiang-people, where all
stands crystal clear with a blue sky with scattered clouds as background. Time
will show when.
It was raining when I went back last night and kept on at least until 00.30 when I got to bed, but today it looks dryin the yard. Maybe we`ll have some sunshine?
The english teacher told me yesterday that he had been speaking to the wife of a collague in the market. She told how they were fighting in many villages to pay back the loans they`d have to take (probably in Agricultural Bank of China) to finish the rebuilding of their houses. From the central government they`d had 20-24.000 yuan, which wasn`t at all enough.
I asked how long after the earthquake they had been "under a roof" again? First the tents had arrived. That took 2-3 weeks. There had to be 8-10 persons in each tent. Later it had been reduced to 2 families in each. The temporary buildings had arrived after about half a year. Then they had been able to teach almost normal again. At this moment his family had been able to move back into their block - that wasn`t damaged - others still live - as I saw - in the temporary houses. And in winter? Electrical heating is a possibility, he says.... But it must be expensive without isolation?
It`s now 7 pm. And I`m exhausted. At 11 I was going for a smaller walk to find a spot with view over town - and I`ve just arrived. Sometimes what seems most promising end without any result other times it`s the opposite. This time the latter. What looked like a dead end evolved.
|A part of the village with Maoxian in the background||This rock from the earthquake had been reprieved|
I start to the right of the busstation and I get succeed inclining a bit. On my way along the mountain I come to a village that has been rebuilt and not only this, it`s Maoxians new tourist attraction. I don`t get the full picture until I`ve been all the way through the valley, as far as I can get. The valley ends and there seems not even a path into the gorge that inclines extremely.
Then I go back and it`s not until now that I see this road that went right and that bends up the mountain. I had seen some Buddha statues to the left by a small path. I thought I`d save them until the descent, but just then an elderly man passes, he shows me
he`s on his way to pray, so I follow. He explains to beware of falling rocks - I don`t understand the words, but I get the meaning, it obvious. There was a block the size of a minor car some steps back. It had holes drilled in to prepare some explosions, but now it`s been abandonned to serve as a memorial I guess. Only small cars go here, and they can pass.
He makes his 3 x 3 bows and we go back. I consider if he`ll go back from where he came or continue downwards - he continues. It was just the daily prayer to avoid earthquakes - perhaps.
I reach an antenna - and from here there is the most extraordinary view of Maoxian. The sun is shining, it`s become hot and I shoot some pictures. From here you have the overview. I can see the big parking lot and the entrance to the village, which covers a vast area. The parking lot is empty exceptfrom a truck. The houses have been rebuilt. They are not all finished, so I can see how they do it. First some solid earthquake safe concrete walls. Then they "glue" on the staffage, so the stone walls in Qiang style is like a shell on the outside. Some areas are levelled with a mixture of clay and straw, others in the modern way added patterns in Qiang style like the goat ornaments cut in the window frames are like the original ones. You could take it for the original stuff - but what else is there to do? And they look original.
The village is ready to welcome the first visitors. I am if not the last tourist in Europe (quote from a danish song), the first tourist in Ping Cun - people look at least at me that way. Most of the houses have beds for guests, I think, and there is an restaurant. At least some chefs are gathered there. But if there ARE any guests or they just practise? The latter I think. Someone has got the idea, that there should be some ecology too, so from time to time I pass small windmills and sunpanels to maintain light during the evenings. Just now there is only the annoying howl from the windmills.
At the entrance I meet theem again. There was an intellectual looking
chinese couple, to whom I say a few words and he spoke a bit english.
Now we meet again, they`ve come another way down. Before I mention his
girlfriend, he admits that it`s his mother. I hope I manage to hide my
surprise, and taking a closer look she is at least older than he. He
tells me he`s going to Chengdu tomorrow. Really? - but the busses go the
other way tomorrow? Yes, but he`ll go by car. One with a special permit.
If I want to come it`ll probably be possible? There are phonecalls one
way and the other, no, it`s not that easy. He`ll have to stay one more
day. But when I ask about buying tickets for the bus in advance, he
offers to go with me to the busstation and ask. It`s quite close and he
think`s I can get a ticket for tuesday now.
But I DID get it right. They only sell tickets one day in advance. But now I`m invited for lunch? I accept. After his first tumbling english words, he`s doing better.
We go by taxi to the other side of the river where they live, his parents. He`s studying in Chengdu. The parents live at the school where she works as a teacher. She`s actually not teaching but doing some administrative work. His father works for the local government. I see a possible new source for information, but it`s in the educational section, but - maybe?
We have egg soup with sugar. It might sound a bit strange, but is actually nice. I wouldn`t expect eggs and sugar to get along - but they do - at least when you`re hungry. In China at least.
The young man was in Wenchuan during the earthquake, so I get some information I need for my book: "The story of an earthquake - and a bicycle", not knowing yet how to put it together. He has some fantastic pictures I don`t recall having seen in the world press. They`re transferred to my USB.
I have to stay for dinner too. So now I`ve been to 4 dinner parties and known now, that when you`ve eaten all you can of the good stuff - then comes the rice!
I`ve also had some glasses of white wine, as theyt call it, from the word bai jou. It cannot be as strong as the danish "snaps" - but this one tastes really good!
I`m exhausted from being "on stage" all the time. Just need to lie down and watch TV, but I have to write... I walk around the corner to get 2 apples and 2 oranges - and "yi ping pi jou". You might guess what that is?