What We’ve Been Doing:
Well, we’re exhausted, but full and sated. We have walked miles and miles learning the stories and history of the Temple of Heaven, the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, underground Ming Tomb, Sacred Way and the Summer Palace. We have visited the Olympic Water Bubble and Bird’s Nest. We have taken photos, videos, and rubbed our aching feet! Where once these sites were fairly empty and calm, with mostly western tourists, these sites are now over crowded with Chinese tourists. What a change with the new wealth of some of the Chinese in this country. They are traveling!
In addition to their traveling, they’ve invented some new traditions: lovers, couples and the newly-in-love buy locks to chain to the Great Wall and throw away the key over the wall to announce that their love is forever. However, we saw one lock that was a combination lock – just in case they change their minds!!
We have all been caught in traffic jams, eaten great food, sung on the bus with new songs in Chinese and English, bought little trinkets like Groucho glasses and nose with the Chinese addition of colorful paper unrolling and closing under the nostrils; we’ve bought kites, roasted chestnuts, camel bone Buddhas (which are probably made of plaster), pearls, Tang dynasty head dresses and we’ve seen t-shirts with Obama dressed in a Mao uniform – really fun!
The Reason We’re Here: The Storytelling Village Gengcun
Tomorrow we’re off to Gaocheng City, the nearest city to Gengcun Village. Gaocheng City is where we will be staying while we visit and share stories, songs, dances, laughter, hugs and friendship with the villagers of Gengcun – the reason we are here.
This is the traditional storytelling village we are visiting for the 4th time. They have had this tradition of telling stories for over 600 years. Our greatest concern is the preservation of this village and their art form. Modernization of China is starting to break down the tradition with the young leaving to work in the cities. Some are now taking their children to the city for their education and this further breaks down the tradition of the next generation being able to learn the stories to hand to their next generation.
We will be studying this predicament and brainstorming as to how we can help in the preservation of this particular folk tradition. If anyone has a contact at UNESCO or knows of a professor who has a passion to preserve old folk traditions, please let us know.
Keep visiting our blog! More about our beloved storytelling friends once we’re there!