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.
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.