Monday, April 22, 2013

Yangmei Ancient Town

          After waiting for other Yangmei destined passengers, our typical-of-a-day-trip bus finally takes off out of metropolitan Nanning and into China's countryside. The moment tires touch sand and banana trees and farmland creep around us, I am instantly transported 15 years into provincial China. The bumpy, yet incredibly scenic trek was a bit scary. The day was rainy and the sand roads wet and muddy. I knew our rickety bus would at any moment be the victim of tragic mudslide but still hoped for the best. Occasionally, we'd drop off a passenger in the middle of nowhere and I had to wonder where the hell they might be going.
            Finally after our two hour imminent-landslide journey, our bus arrives in what appears to be a brick-laden ghost town. The rain has stopped but there is still that mystical fog that hangs low like you see in ancient Chinese paintings. Walking into the town center, we see locals selling homemade pickled and spiced vegetables and they are kind enough to offer a sample! Which for those of you that know me, samples are one of my guilty pleasures :)
          You can't help but feel history seep from the dirt roads and through the brick walls that encase this centuries old town. This town was created in the time of the Ming dynasty and many of the sites were lodgings or meeting places for it's members. Free range chickens roam the streets and stray dogs wrestle in front of vendors. People still inhabit this village but live a much more simpler lifestyle than modern Chinese. Unlike most of China's "ancient towns," this one is not commercial and still operates as a legit town. We checked out several little temples and old buildings and then had lunch. We had a famous local dish of pork with the skin and fatty strip under the skin still attached, seaweed soup, and an egg, tofu, tomato dish. Lunch was lovely, hearty and fulfilling.  We walked around for another hour or so and boarded our death trap transportation back to Nanning. On the way, I kept telling myself that if these large construction trucks didn't slide in the mud and tip, the bus would be fine, that the driver was controlling and capable. Of course, 15 minutes into the journey, we see a giant truck tip over on its side that apparently slid in the mud! Great. Anxiety sets in and I try to divert my attention by talking to my friend.
        The town was absolutely lovely and truly historic. The ride there, although scary, was equally pleasant. It's important to get out of the bustling city limits and take a little time to reflect in a quieter and more humble setting.