Thursday was a public holiday in China so I decided to take a motorbike ride through the countryside. It was a steamy, hot sunny day, and I wanted to escape the stagnant air of Fuyang for a while. The hills around where I live give an idyllic feeling of ancient China. Once you leave the town it’s easy to find yourself wondering how you ever got to such a foreign place. You see farmers working out in their fields with no machinery, only their livestock to help them along with their own back breaking labor. Living in Fuyang, I see so many different parts of Chinese culture that most westerners who come to China may never see. It’s part of the reason I love living in a small town.
I rode for about half an hour out of Fuyang and breezed into Longmen (Dragon Gate). The town sits at the foot of Longmen Mountain, and the scenery around it is exquisite. Nothing but green and emerald colors covering the hills. Unlike the water in Fuyang, the streams here run so clear that you could dip your cup right into them and drink. I had been there once before during the Fall Festival when the little village was booming with people, and I felt like I wasn’t able to appreciate it for what it is. Now, standing and contemplating which way to enter the village, I could comprehend the quaintness and serene lifestyle that is Longmen.
The town covers two square kilometers total and has a population of 7,000 people. More than 90 percent of the people that live here are descendants of King Sun Quan who ruled over the Wu kingdom back around 250 AD. Because of this, almost everyone who lives here has the name Sun. It’s one of the few places left in China that has managed to preserve the traditional Chinese lifestyle and look. The Chinese government has invested a lot of money into helping Longmen maintain its beauty, tradition and also to protect the environment around it.
Walking through Longmen is like finding your way through a labyrinth. It’s made up of narrow alley ways with little shops and the homes lined up on either side. It seems around every corner, you could look into a small business or restaurant and find the elderly people of the village smoking cigarettes, playing mahjong, and just reveling in a spectacular day. The lines on their faces tell the story of their own experiences and hard work. I have no doubt that the life of a person in a village such as Longmen is nothing but arduous. Yet, seeing these beautiful aged faces, enjoying their surroundings, it seems so fruitful and fulfilling as well.
Woven Shoes for sale.
The narrow ally ways.
I believe this is used for grinding wheat and making it into flour. This room smelled like and was covered in flour.
Wheat that was laid out on giant mats to be dried out in the sun.