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Lotus - A trusted name in family travel
From a recent traveler to the rural farmer’s home visit & stay:
“I think the best way to describe to an American going to the farmer's house is that it is like a B&B...a Bed and Breakfast, including an evening meal as well as breakfast. It is an opportunity to be included in a family and neighborhood --- one that welcomes Americans -- and experience a more casual, relaxed and fun exchange with people -- ways of cooking, the food being prepared, community exercise & dancing, communicating through sign-language and whatever little bit of Chinese one knows.
I am a person who likes closer, smaller interaction with people more than the crowds at, for example Forbidden City. So the farmer's house was a wonderful opportunity. It was also eye-opening and very moving to walk across the highway to see the old village, with some few people still living there, to see the contrast between the newer and older villages and to also have the realities brought home that, 1. it’s possible to live and be content with very little material goods, and 2. Experience people living not as well-off (rich) as we who were able to travel there. A highlight of the visit to the village was the time we spent at the artist studio of the painter and paper-cutter, Pan Xiaoling.
One of my concerns, before I went on the trip, was about privacy, sleeping arrangements, bathroom facilities, at the farmhouse overnight. As it turned out, during the whole two week tour, and during the farmer's home-stay, there were always bathroom facilities available when I needed them. At times they were less "luxurious" that many Americans are used to, but because I grew up with parents who took me on trips to Mexico and France, where such a variety of bathrooms and outhouses were, I was used to dealing with what is available without a lot of fuss and judgement. At "our" farmer’s house, we had the whole upstairs, including a bathroom, to ourselves.
Our hostess was so very gracious and caring and a terrific cook! We had the advantage of my niece and her parents knowing some Chinese, and had brought some photographs to share with our hostess. The other family members, her husband and mother and son, appeared occasionally, nodding and smiling graciously, but stayed very much in the background, letting her interact and guide to the various places we went during the overnight. Another highlight was the evening gathering of the whole community at the village square, with music and movement...some sports going on a ways away.
I think one thing that surprised me during the farmer's home visit was the plentiful number and variety of dishes that our hostess cooked for us for dinner. We had made "pot-stickers" (dumplings) together, which was a really nice activity, doing that right away to settle in after we had time to find our rooms and rest a bit. So I knew we would have those for supper, but then our hostess went on to bring many more dishes of vegetables and items that she cooked back in the kitchen area of the house. Delicious! And delightful! She sat with us to eat also, after urging us to start ahead with all the variety.
One other noticeable thing was how smoothly and pleasantly our hostess guided us from one activity to another...letting us know when it was time to prepare, time to eat, time to go join in the community gathering, returning to the house and letting us know it was time to retire; then again, in the morning, getting us to the center to meet our bus. All the smiles and warm welcomes and farewells, the genuine interest, were heartwarming. The small homemade "heart" necklaces were a nice surprise too! Thanks for bringing back nice memories.”
Submitted by Catherine N.