November 9th, 2008
That was an awesome trip! A whirlwind, sure, and I got to see far less of either Linfen or Yuncheng than I would’ve liked, but so be it, what I saw leaves me keen to get back out there, next time with wife in tow and a plan to make it out to Hongtong’s Great Scholar Tree as well as checking out Yao’s Temple and all the other cool reallyreally ancient hsitoric stuff. One thing I learned in Taiyuan and this trip reconfirmed is that when it comes to history, Shanxi kicks Beijing’s and Shaanxi’s arses.
Of course, the timing of the trip leaves me a bit behind on the news from home, and the news looks, well, mixed at best. But this I don’t like the look of. It seems National and ACT can form a coalition with a clear majority, but Labour, Greens and Maori fall short. It was expected, and hopefully it will do some good by forcing Labour to dump the deadwood and get an injection of fresh blood and ideas. lzh rightly assumed this meant I would be in even less of a hurry to go back to New Zealand. Damn straight. With a government like that I’m staying right here where the Centre has its head screwed on right. But I told her it’ll only be three years, the Tory bastards will fuck up the economy, and NZ will vote Labour back in. Trying to be optimistic, you see.
Not that I like Labour. I loathe the bastards. But when it comes to choosing between the two major parties they’re very definitely the lesser of two evils. I mean, in the midst of a financial crisis, a party led by somebody from the “industry” [scare quotes because the “industry” in question produces nothing of any real value] responsible for the financial crisis wins the largest number of seats in parliament? Shit….. Well, they’re only preliminary results, wait a week and things might look less scary….
Anyways, it was a great trip in which, even though the destination was Linfen, and in reality I spent more time in Linfen than Yuncheng, it still feels like most of the trip in Yuncheng. Unfortunately I got almost no time to get out and explore Linfen, and really only saw the area around my hotel, the school I had a few hours work at, and the restaurants I was taken to. Yuncheng wasn’t much better: I got a walk through Guandi Miao, ate lunch at a ‘Sichuan’ restaurant (lunch may have been better had I been eating with people without a pathological fear of chilli- how you can eat Chuancai without chilli I don’t know, but whatever), hung around the railway station forecourt a short while, and spent a bit of time in the tiny, tiny airport. The rest of the time was spent on the road staring intently out the car windows taking in as much as I could under the rather hurried circumstances.
I want to write it up properly later. It is already ten, after all, and I have a full day of work tomorrow. Let’s just saw that when I heard “Linfen” I assumed something terribly rundown and filthy, looking like it had seen no maintenance since the fall of the Qing Dynasty- something like the neighbourhood I lived in in Taiyuan, for example. Instead I was quite pleasantly shocked. Yeah, the air was filthy and the walls of the buildings showed it, but there was very clear evidence of a lot of effort being put in by the various governments involved- municipal, provincial, and higher and lower. There was also evidence of a lot of effort being put into developing tourism, both of the beautiful scenery and historic sites variety, and more than a few appeals to the ancestors (see, for example, Hongtong’s Great Scholar Tree, which is my number one reason for taking lzh out there as soon as possible).
Still, there was plenty of evidence of poverty and lack of development, especially in the rural areas we drove through- well, when we were off the expressway. And there was plenty of industry in the form of factories looming out of the haze in apparently random locations.
And somehow I think I saw more factories on the Yuncheng side of the Fen River than on the Linfen side…. That must be just an odd side-effect of the route the expressway takes.
Oh, and the local people, at least those I met, were awesome, really great people.
And I got a case of Fenjiu for my efforts. Awesome.
Anyway, enough random thotting, it’s late and a proper write up will have to wait until at least tomorrow and probably Tuesday.