School Trip

planting

On Saturday Zoe’s class organized a trip to ‘Yusui village: A National Agriculture Tourism Demonstration Site.’ After an hour’s bus ride we arrived in Fengxian on the outskirts of Shanghai. Our destination was a farm that – about 6 years ago – began to welcome visitors. It was kind of like something I frequent during summers in Canada – except it was distinctly Chinese (as should be obvious from the eccentricity of this welcome sign)

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One World. world dream. discover the beauty of life the Exhibition of Passion

The trip was well organized. We followed our jovial tour guide who led us through various stations that have been set up throughout the ‘village’.

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Our first stop was grass tobogganing. Speeding down a grassy slope on a rollerized sled was fun but also a little terrifying. The only safety precautions I could detect were a bunch of men with bullhorns screaming at us to ‘hold on tight’ and ‘move out of the way’.

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The next stop was at the ‘Catch Laoches’ station. This consisted of a moat like pool built from concrete. Upon entering parents were handed plastic bags. A woman sat near by selling little red pails for 3 RMB each. As we took our places by the water a man emptied buckets of fish into the moat. Everyone then began to use their hands, bags, and pails to catch the imprisoned fish. Max, Zoe and I were hopeless, but we noticed that some families were leaving with an impressive collection. Apparently loaches make a tasty supper.

fishing

Other stations included a donkey ride from a sad, mangy looking creature, zones where kids could plant and pick some vegetables, a bamboo raft ride, and a tiny lake with small peddle boats and giant inflated rings. Scattered throughout the site are various dubious looking play structures as well as plastic models of animals that in no way belong.

giraffes

What is most intriguing about Yusui village, however, is its position at the intersection of city and countryside. Outside the ‘village’ gates is a row of monster homes built, no doubt, with the profits of this new-found business model.

house
The peasant farmers now turned tour guides seem bemused by their fate. Many of them just sat and stared, shell shocked, I suppose, by the intensity of Shanghai’s rapid transformation.
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