Friday, December 11, 2009

Tai Shan - Village life

This village, actually a small town, is where my mother was born. She was last here when she was 15 years old, over 60 years ago.
We didn't know exactly which house it was, and she certainly didn't recognize it. Even the numbers on the doors didn't match what she remembered.

We were lucky to find it, and even luckier that there was someone home, since we were coming unannounced. We knew there was a caretaker living there and boy was she surprised when we showed-up.

When we finally found the place, we simply let ourselves in as though we owned the place (well, technically my mother did). We told them who we were and were allowed to look around.
It was very emotional for my mom.

In one of the rooms on the upper floor were pictures of my parents, my grandmother, and my brother Ed at 45 days old.
The shrine was located in one corner of the room with a couple of pictures of my grandfather.

Village farming life is not easy, especially compared to living in the growing city of Tai Shan, or other cities further afield, where there are more opportunities for a better life.

The days of vigorous village farming communities built around the family structure are long gone but everyday farming does still exists here. Many people still do depend on it for their livelyhood and things run pretty much the same here as it has for as long as these villages have been here.
These are pictures of the home of my Uncle Paul and his brothers. One of the homes that currently has someone actually living in it. The woman currently living in it, a distant relative, was very eager to show us around.

Alan being shown around the house.

Rice harvest.

Usually two crops a year, sometimes three. The quality of the rice in three crop harvests is not as good and the additional work and manpower needed for three crops a year may not necessarily yield profitable results.

Some people with close ties to relatives overseas, or even living overseas themselves, make frequent visits back to their villages. Some have remodeled homes with updated appliances, and maybe even a western toilet.

The buildings in the villages are all pretty much the same. Two story, dark grey, brick buildings separated by narrow 4 ft. alleys.
A typical kitchen with a wood burning stove. Some now have propane buffet burners as well.

Gathering the rice. These village farmers sell whatever rice they harvest in the local markets in the nearby town. Some of it may be purchased by local rice merchants to be sold in larger parcels outside the area.

Drying vegetables. Usually used for soup.

If your family in the village was "rich", you had a summer house, still in the village but separated from the main block of buildings. This one (below) belonging to my sister's family, has long been abandoned and is now used as a storage barn.

The rice harvest.

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