Monday, January 24, 2011

Copied from Travel Blog, 2010

Ancient Town aka Stone City: Thursday, December 9th

View of one of the streets
We weren’t originally going to visit Ancient Town, but I am so glad that we did.  We had to pay a little extra and have our tour guide rearrange our tours for us to go, but I had heard this was a good place to visit and I was looking forward to it.
The town was originally built in 1378 and was made entirely of stone!  I was a little surprised when we arrived there because I didn’t expect all of the merchants, but it was fun none-the-less! The drive out to the city was very nice because we actually got to drive through some of the country to get there.  The kids had asked many times when we would get out of the cities we had been in – they wanted to be in the country!  We got to see some of the unusual mountains as we drove to the city, and I can only imagine that each one was thinking how neat it would be to get up close to them.
Our first fun experience in the town was when our guide asked us if we wanted to try this one type of flat, round, dough-like bread that was being fried on one of the street corners.  Being the adventurous sort (after I asked if there was any seafood or such items in it) we said we would love to try it!  The first nibble was good – the green stuff tasted like spinach.  Second bite was good.  Third bite – oh, no!  There was a brownish rose syrup mixture in the middle of it and it dribbled all down my hair and onto my jacket!  Embarrassing!  I know our guide and driver knew this was in the middle – I wonder if they do this to all the tourists they take there?  I think there was a hidden camera someplace.  Before I could warn Laurel she had already taken a bite of hers and had gotten the rose syrup on her face and jacket sleeve.  Please try to picture us standing on a corner in an ancient town as foreigners eating this delicacy and getting it all over ourselves.  Tons and tons of people were watching us make a mess of ourselves.  One kind gentleman saw Laurel’s predicament and helped her clean up her sleeve with a napkin he had.  (She gets A LOT of help here in China!  People just want to touch her.) 
Another street view
Well, the more we ate of the “bread” the more it didn’t taste good.  We had each been given our own “bread” to eat and were trying to do the best with what we had been given.  The syrup mixture in mine had already dripped in my hair and it was starting to make an even bigger mess.  I didn’t want to be rude by throwing the rest of the bread away so I just shoved the last few bites in my mouth at one time and then cleaned up my hair with the one wet nap I had left in my backpack.
After I quickly did this, I discovered Tyler and Laurel didn’t like theirs either, plus they had bought one for Lyric.  I wasn’t about to get a mess all over her!  Hoping not too many had their eyes on me, I ate the rest of Ty’s and Laurels (they weren't really that big, each one was smaller than the palm of your hand) – I didn’t want to be offensive, but I secretly wrapped Lyrics in plastic and threw it away a bit later!  Oh, and towards the end of this fiasco Laurel had her picture taken again with some people (starting with the gentleman who helped her clean her sleeve) and then all of us had our pictures taken with them.  I’m sure it will be a wonderful, laughing memory for them every time they look at it!
Stinky Tofu - love Ty's facial expression!
Besides the architecture, Ancient Town is also known for two other items; its rose candy (which we did buy some to bring home and have friends try – it’s interesting…), and Stinky Tofu – Yes!  I really did say Stinky Tofu!  Don’t worry, we aren’t bringing home any of this!  If you are wondering if Stinky Tofu (kind-of fun to say its name) really does stink, the answer is “Yes!”.  And we ate it.  Even the kids.  I think Laurel plugged her nose when she ate it.  I’m not sure if I can describe the smell for you or not but I’ll give it a shot – At one point while we were eating the Stinky Tofu I wasn’t sure if Lyric had done something in her diaper (diarrhea) or if it was the Stinky Tofu I was smelling!  How is that for a description? :)  It was the Stinky Tofu I was smelling and not Lyric! And again, people were watching us eat this food, including the women who cooked it, so we forced ourselves to eat all of it – Kevin ate the majority of it!  There were also fried potatoes and some round balls that were bean curd tofu and had the texture of fried mushrooms.  All in all, it was a memorable experience!
View outside Ancient Town
I had read online that there was a Christian Church in Ancient Town and I asked our guide to show it to us.  The church building didn’t look as old as I expected it would but a nice surprise came when we went inside – we met a Chinese Christian!  The guy we met in the church was the Pastor of it.  He and his family live in the parsonage, which is a part of the church building.  I guess I didn’t really realize it before then, but the people actually live in the Ancient Town.   I thought they just came there to work. 
Kevin and I were surprised that a small Christian Church was allowed to be active in China.  We had gone to the church in Beijing but that one is mostly for foreigners.  This one though, well, anybody could go to it!  Praise God!  It was good to hear that things were a little better than what we always hear through the media.
Working in the fields outside Ancient Town
We walked through the city and then headed back the way we came.  There were a couple of places where a person could try on minority or traditional costumes and have their picture taken and the girls wanted to do this.  We tried to get Tyler to dress up but he has never been into costumes so he shied away.
Part of the costume was a heavy headdress type thing with what looked like bull’s horns sticking out of them – and the girls (Carissa and Laurel) had these on their heads.   They had to keep their necks very steady!  I expected the shop workers to take the pictures inside the store, but instead the girls were brought out in front of an old building, which they had to walk to in their costumes, to have their pictures taken.  They looked beautiful! 
Tyler having fun
Afterward they were allowed to pick out two photos each to take home.  It was a fun keepsake!
We had a really good time today, and I am so glad that we were able to arrange visiting this town.  I have a feeling there was a lot more that I missed so if I ever come back here, it is a place that I would like to explore a bit more.
The way back to the hotel was a quiet one.  So much time has passed since I wrote this that I have no idea what we did in the evening!  That is why it is so important to take notes on each day as it comes in case you don’t have time to blog about it right away (Lesson I need to remember!)

Ty pointed these men out to me - we think those are pipes they are holding!

Our beautiful daughter #1

Our beautiful daughter #2

1 comment:

  1. Hi, visiting your blog from the Guizhou adopt group. You have a lovely family! This Ancient Town--is it Miao? We think our DD is Miao.

    Congratulations on your newest daughter!

    susan w