Highlands

Hengling

 

 

 

 

 

Hengling was about 5 kilometres north of Zhenbiancheng and, like it, had been a walled fortress village. Remnants of the wall remained. 415 County road ran through the village; the only other streets were narrow alleys. There was one general store in the middle of the village and a restaurant at the southern end.
We only had one meal at the restaurant but the owners were friendly people who seemed to spend much of their time laughing. We often got out of the car to chat to them or drop off prints of photos which they would pass on to the villagers.
On Saturday mornings there was often a small market at the northern end of the village. A few stalls sold clothes, fruit, vegetables and fish. The people there tended to b a bit shy or wary of these unheralded laowai (foreigners) but two families back in the alleys invited Liu and me into their homes on first meeting.
Behind the restaurant, there was a clear pathway up into the mountains. It took about 40 minutes to reach a spectacular section of the Great Wall.
Like Zhenbiancheng, Hengling had seen fierce fighting against the Japanese in 1937 and had eventually been occupied for several years.

The county road between Zhenbiancheng and Hengling

A newly made coffin in a shed behind s house









At the village restaurant

Zhang Yuzhen, 48, and Feng Sunshing, 52, at their restaurant

Like most Chinese, Zhang Yuzhen did not just consume a cigarette; he relished it, fondling it and holding it in different positions as if it were part of his body. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After dumping some rubbish at a tip near the restaurant, this man stopped to chat to Roger. After a few minutes, he said: "Oh well, better get back to work", laughed and strolled off up the road. A few minutes later, Liu and I were walking to the general store when we heard someone call out. Yun Quanshan was inviting us to his house.

Yun Quanshan, 70, and Peng Tianying, 70

Yun Quanshan at the gate to his courtyard house

Guo Jinying, 70, and her son Peng Aiguo who were visiting relatives in the village. Aiguo had walked past us in an alley, met his family then waved us into their house for tea, nuts and fruit. We declined their offer of lunch as we had plans to see more of the area that day. A few weeks later we had lunch at the house with Aiguo's uncle and aunt. 

Li Shuzhang, 70

Guo Jinying and Zuo Changrong, 60

Lunch: pork and celery, cold pickled chinese cabbage (baicai), tofu with a whitish vegetable, hot cornbread and more cabbage in soy sauce and chili.

Li Shizhang looking at a photo of himself.











 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Right: The house toilet, an ash-covered hole in the ground at the far end of the small backyard. These people have put up with these conditions all their lives. They were living in the world’s second-largest economy, only 90 km from the capital. In 2013, the average annual income in China was 48,000 yuan ($155) a week. The average rural wage was 8000 yuan ( $27) a week.