|IN A NUTSHELL: A day’s walk through the ancient coastal fishing village of ShiPu impressed me with the simple lifestyle and generous, friendly personalities of the local people.
I spent last weekend sightseeing with a friend in Shipu, an old fishing village in Xiangshan county. This was less of a tourist destination sightseeing day, but more of a just “wander around and talk to the locals” style of day, which I found refreshing. This city revolves around the sea and the fish and sea life which grace the local tables, hence it’s moniker “Ancient Fishing Village”.
We started by climbing to the rooftop garden of a seven story apartment, where we had great views of the harbor.
Further up the slope, we noted a row of small houses and it appeared that one had been involved in some kind of fire. We went back down to street level, then climbed up steep stairs and a very steep dirt slope to get a closer look.
After making it up to their level, we met a man and his wife rummaging through the hopelessly charred remains of what used to be their kitchen. Apparently this fire had happened several weeks earlier, and in a very animated discussion, the woman explained how they believed it was started as an arson, due to their non support of a local building project further up the hill (more on that later). I felt sorry for the terrible state of their home and wondered how long it would take them to rebuild.
We continued to climb up a loose gravel trail to the top of the hill, where the construction project was going on. A large temple project was being built, with activity everywhere, and the power of cheap manual labor apparent.
We browsed around, but by this time, we were extremely hot, tired and thirsty, as the day was extremely warm and sunny and we had just climbed several hundred meters from street level. Unfortunately we had forgot to bring water, and set out to see if we could bum some off of the workers. We met a lady who was one of the cookers for the work crews and she kindly invited us into her kitchen and poured us some water from her urn. She was quite shy to have her picture taken, but I snagged a few anyway. She explained that the workers were mostly from Anhui and Fujian, and she was there as the chef for the workers from Fujian. She complained that Ningbo cuisine was good, but just “different” from Fujian, so the workers were more happy and productive if they could eat food from their hometown. She was in the middle of cooking lunch, dish by dish, and had everything stored under a large plywood cover to keep the flies away. She kindly offered to have us stay and eat lunch with them, but we decided to move on.
We made our way further up into the town, and came upon a group of ladies just relaxing in their courtyard on a warm Saturday morning. We played with their dog, DengDeng, whom they promptly tried to sell to me for 5000 kwai. One lady knitted a sweater automagically the entire time we spoke with her.
Walking on, I met a kid snacking on dried fish cake who was happy to pose for a pic and hope for world peace.
We watched a man and his wife make custom made cotton and down comforters for a customer. I learned that the price is 25 kwai, and I found the manufacturing process pretty interesting. When asked why the customer was buying heavy blankets in the middle of summer, she knowingly explained that lead times in winter can be several weeks, while if she bought in off season, she could have it made while she waited. Even though man and wife were working hard, they seemed happy to have a customer and pretty willing to have their picture taken.
We made our way back down toward “Seafood Street” along the harbor for a quick lunch. The setup here is a little different, the tables are along the harbor, and the fish tanks and kitchen are on the other side of a busy street. The marketing department aggressively flags down cars as you pull through the street. We went over, picked out our live sea creatures, and then sat down and waited about 10 minutes for our freshly prepared lunch. Along with some ice cold local Daliangshan beer, it was a nice end to an enjoyable day.
If you make it to China, wander around, get off the beaten patch, don’t be afraid to talk to the local people. Chinese are almost all very friendly and you will learn a lot about the normal daily life. See all of my pictures from Shipu here and my coastal beach pictures of nearby beautiful Songlanshan here.