April 27, 2010

Halloween in Zhujaiyo

Nothing beats spending Halloween in an ancient village. Zhujaiyo is a sleepy town where the only sound you can hear at night are the howls of stray dogs and the only light comes from the night sky. Separated from Jinan, the largest nearby city, by several bus transfers over several hours, Zhujayio is not a tourist hot spot and remains largely as it did hundreds of years ago. After arriving Saturday afternoon and deciding between two of the home stays available for visitors, my Argentinian travel buddy and I wandered through the narrow pathways and bridges of the village. A group of day trippers from Jinan invited us to join them for dinner. We were midway through our meal when the power went off. Candles and portable heaters were brought in, but the lights soon returned. The Argentinian chatted with them in Chinese as I happily munched on some fried scorpions.

The next day we ventured to the top of a nearby hill. The temple at the top provided a complete view of Zhujaiyo's several hundred homes tightly clustered together. While the interior of the town is still inhabited by an aging population of locals, the deserted fringes feature ramshackle buildings with caved in roofs and decaying walls. Eminently walkable, we covered the rest of the nooks and crannies of the town before lunch time. The chicken we ordered was brought to us three times - (1) alive, (2) skinned, and (3) ready to eat.


"How do do?" - inquiry by Chinese day tripper upon seeing foreigners in his midst