30.07.2010 - 30.07.2010
Yongding is a World Heritage Site 2½ hours outside Xiamen. We got on the bus at 7:30am, two hours later the rickety bus climbed the steep mountain roads with dense forest on either side. I imagined us to be in the 1984 film Romancing The Stone as we ventured deeper into the wilderness.
We soon arrived at the ‘Tulous’, the reason for our little one-day adventure. They’re ancient buildings built in concentric circles, the mud walls reach four storeys high, containing 400 rooms. Each Tulou used to house over a 1000 people and we were surprised to see people still living in them today.
They were amazing from the outside and intriguing from the inside. We walked the narrow alleys between the circular buildings, each decorated with Chinese lanterns and birds hanging in cages.
The local guide ushered us into one of the down stairs rooms where two tables, were set for dinner, each with ten place settings and ten tiny plastic stools.
“This should be interesting,” said Sarah.
“Hm, I hope there’s chickens feet!” I quipped.
Right in queue a woman walked in the door with a huge bowl of rice and a plate of chicken feet, another woman followed with steamed bamboo, tofu, and beef fat.
“Hmm! What’s for pudding? Beak?”
We started to eat and eighteen pairs of eyes stared at the two white giants sitting on the tiny stools waiting to see what we did next. Sarah looked at me, “this is going to be embarrassing”.
Suddenly – BANG! The tiny stool I was sitting on exploded into a thousand plastic splinters, I dropped twelve inches and my ass hit the concrete floor.
“Now that was embarrassing!” I said, in my driest voice, from under the table.
Sarah burst out laughing spitting out some of the rice she was pretending to eat. I don’t know if it was some kind of etiquette but not one other person round the table even cracked a smile, they just stared on.
Sarah continued wetting her knickers laughing as a guy stacked two of the flimsy stools on top of each other and passed it to me, saying something in Chinese. I translated it in my head to be, “there you go, this will be stronger you big heavy freak!”
“Xiexie” I thanked him.
We continued our tour round the Tulous and the guy who built me the reinforced stool became our friend. We couldn’t speak a word of each others language but through basic sign language he told me I was very tall, my skin was very white, and strangely, that my socks were too thick and I really should consider a thinner pair.