Friday, April 22, 2011: Family Day
Feng Jing Zhen 楓涇鎮 – Life in the Villages
On the way out, we bumped into a man I did not know. A closer look changed that immediately. He looked oddly familiar. Then… I had an AHA moment! He was the spitting image of Yi Fu! And voila, he was a brother! I vaguely remember him referred to as Ah-Gu, but I never got confirmation on his name because I ended up calling him Yi Fu #2 the rest of the day to simplify the connections.
Together, we traveled to a remote village – 農村 nong cun – outside of Shanghai and close to Zhejiang, 楓涇鎮 Feng Jing Zhen. This place was where Yi Fu and his siblings grew up. Feng Jing Zhen was a quaint, simple town. The old-style homes were built along the green, serene waters. People dwelled in the homes, where the backyard led to the river. Steps came down, and people could bend close, without falling in of course, and wash clothing and clean. Small shops nestled beneath short, black awnings sold indigenous food, the most notable being zhong-zi, hand-made crafts, and small merchandise. I got the feeling the small village was very family-oriented, people living, working, and staying together generation after generation. Red lanterns hung from the pointy black roofs. Wooden boat rides took visitors for a slow, leisurely trip through the old village. It was modeled like Venice, Italy, the famous water city, except on a smaller scale, homier, and more historic. The Chinese government purposely does not want to renovate such villages, because places like Feng Jing Zhen have become a symbol of ancestral China. If any renovations do occur, they will not demolish the town and build giant condominiums for profit. Instead, they would be to maintain the traditional architecture and the essence of the village life.
Qing Qing, Xiao Chen, Mom, Kelly and I absorbed the natural beauty of Feng Jing Zhen. We boarded a wooden boat and embarked on a journey across people’s backyards. The kind rower took us on a relaxing, breezy ride past the row of shops and homes, under the stone bridges, and past many blooming trees. It was scenic and breathtaking to be away from the hectic urban rumble. Many small shops were busy with patter and chatter. We passed a home where a marriage took place recently, a red ribbon hanging outside over the balcony. We saw a wooden boat decorated with red ribbons and cloth. The dark green waters were so tranquil that I could see the reflection of trees and homes along the surface. What an enchanting place to experience!