Thursday, November 14, 2013


Here I am shopping in the market at the Matang Gejia Village in Guizhou Province, where I found an unusual pair of hand-made  earrings for sale.   The silver wire looked pretty thick, and I didn't think it would fit through the pierced holes in my ears.  The Gejia woman from the Miao tribe asked her friend to try and help her get the wire through the hole.  As hard as she tried, there was no way.  The earrings just didn't fit.


Maybe I should buy the pretty blue batik cloth, I thought to myself, but then I remembered all the hand-stamped fabric I bought in Mali and India that still sits unused in my dresser drawer.   

I wanted to take a picture of the Matang village from the top of the hill, so I followed a steep path that snaked through a neighborhood with small brick houses that were nicely maintained.  I had almost reached the summit when I saw a lovely Miao woman standing in front of her house, polishing an ornate silver necklace with a toothbrush and paste.   


Being first on the scene of what I thought would make a special photo, I crept closer until I was within   shooting range and began to focus my camera.  That's when I heard what sounded like a hoard of giggling teenagers coming up the path behind me.  The Miao woman heard them too, but at the same time she heard them, she noticed me, which meant I didn't get the award-winning photo I had hoped for, but at least the picture is in focus.  As it turned out, the teenagers were students on a field trip, and were exploring some of the Miao ethnic villages, like we were.  Rather than ignore the students, I decided to engage them, an experience which delighted not only me and them, but also the other travelers in our group, who weren't far behind.    The students gave us some semi-sweet Chinese candy to try, and I gave them  chocolate Tootsie Rolls I had tucked in my bag to hand out to children I met along the way.   I took a bunch of pictures of the happy-go-lucky group, and exchanged email addresses with a young girl, who, from the two emails she has sent me already, can only say "Hello" and "How are you?" in English.   Before departing, the students sang a Chinese folk song to our group, and we returned the favor by singing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat," to which they chimed in with their own version in Chinese.    Even if you can't speak their language,  laughter and music have a way of bringing people together.



Wherever we travel, Bruce and I look for a special item or two or three to add to our growing collection at home.  We have a special penchant for tribal hats, and have several from Africa, Central and Southeast Asia and Egypt.  When we had a couple of hours to explore Zhaoxing, the largest ethnic Dong Village in China, we looked in a few shops that sold traditional Dong ornaments.  That's when we saw the unusual and decorative hat sitting on a table just waiting for us to come along.  The merchant, who looked a little like Genghis Khan, noticed that we paused and gave the hat a second look-see, picking it up, turning it around, and admiring the decorative elements that were quite unique.  Although his English was limited, he said the hat was for a child to wear for a special occasion, like a birthday.  He said the price was $200, which seemed rather high, even though we loved it.  We told him we didn't want to pay that much and could he lower the price.  He brought it down a little, but we shrugged and started looking at other things in his shop, knowing all the while that we really wanted to buy this hat.  Since our guide told us we should only pay about 50 percent of the asking price, our goal was to pay about $100, but Bruce told "Genghis" our price was $80.  He said, "No," and we said, "Sorry," and pulled the old walk-away gambit.  Suddenly "Genghis" was tapping Bruce on the shoulder, saying he would take the $80, which was probably what the hat was worth. 


1 comment:

  1. NIce photos, Pam, and what great "shopping experiences." I seem to have started bringing good fortune/protection symbols home with me: a mask from Bhutan and a pair of little bulls from Peru. I really try hard not to bring home too much, but that seems like a good collection to have. I look forward to seeing more about your trip.