The Border and Farming Village

Anne, Darla and Ken on the tour bus. We were instructed to wear
the red sticker to identify us a members of the tour.
One of our designated three days in Macau was allocated to a one day tour of The People's Republic of China. This is something that Anne and I had done on our previous trip and thought that Ken and Darla would enjoy. You have to be a bit prepared for this as it is definitely different from your regular travels.

First, crossing the border seems to be a madhouse. There are people everywhere and chaos seems to reign. On our first trip everyone's name on the tour was printed on a list and, as you passed through the border, you had to be in the order that your name appeared on the list. I'm happy to say this second trip wasn't that rigorous. However, on the first trip they stamped our passports and on this one they refused to stamp the passport. Who knows? When you pass through the border house and exit the building there will be hordes of people around. Some are unloading goods from cars to take across the border, others are coming through with you and many are just beggars looking for a handout. At the border beggars are predominant, more so than anywhere else.

Once on the other side and back on the bus we were met by our Chinese tour guide. She was a young woman in her twenties and had just graduated school. This was her first job and she was very good at it. She was also dedicated. She informed us that each day she had to ride a bus for three hours (each way) from her home to work. Our first stop would be what was explained to us as "a typical and approved farming village of about two thousand people who are proud, self-supporting farmers." Unfortunately, the way they explained it, you were left with the impression that this was a selected village groomed specifically for tourists and not necessarily a typical village. Whether that's true or not I do not know, but it is the impression that their explanation left me with.

Little old woman begging
Entering the village we were immediately met by this little old Chinese woman (picture right). As you passed by she would put her hands in front of her, as if in prayer, and lower her head somewhat. She then followed you a short distance with an outstretched hands begging for some money. This was a bit unusual. On our previous tour we saw many beggars at the border as we crossed into and out of Mainland China, but there were no beggars at the places we visited. To see her here at the entrance to the farming village seemed out of place.
The streets of the farming village were clean and orderly (picture right) with many people walking about tending to their daily chores. We felt it was obvious, however, that this village was prepared for foreign visitors and not typical of what one might see if they were free to travel through Mainland China.

Streets of the farming village

Collecting garbage
As we walked through the village we got to see what life was like for those that lived here. We stumbled across the village garbage collectors picking up garbage and throwing it onto a trailer attached to a tractor. While this isn't what we might consider modern, it surely beats garbage collection in Egypt where it's done with donkey carts.

Anyone for snake?

OK, we're all fascinated by the reported eating habits of the Chinese. As kids growing up we all heard the stories about the local Chinese restaurants serving cats and dogs. This was pure fiction, of course, but it was something to think about. In China we would learn that there isn't much they won't eat. We would learn this by seeing it firsthand.

Snakes are common in Chinese markets. We saw them not only at the farming village we visited in Mainland China but, also, in Hong Kong. The snakes are kept live in cages (left) and when selected by someone the seller stepped on the snake's head, slit the skin behind the head, and then pulled the skin off the snake. The snake, still wiggling, was then placed in a plastic bag to be taken home and prepared.

Snakes awaiting their fate
By far the most fun we had visiting the farming village was when we encountered a group of young children. Anne and I were prepared. Anne and I reached into our bag, pulled out our stash of balloons and handed them out. As you can see by the expressions on their faces they were delighted. Carrying several bags of balloons a few thousand miles is certainly worth the reward you get by watching the children. Perhaps when they grow up they will remember the friendly Americans who gave them balloons once upon a time and relations between our countries and the people of our worlds will be better.
The children enjoying the balloons we brought from home
Our visit of the farming village now compete we headed off to lunch at a beautiful restaurant and an encounter with a water buffalo. Join us there on the next page ...
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