|I took an early morning walk along the river.
There was a hazy red sun rising over the river and 4 men floating down the river with no visible flotation device (Susan saw them the next day and they did have some kind of inflated pillow). The boat people were washing their clothes in the river and more people were exercising on the river walk on the public outdoor exercise machines.
Today we biked 30 km (18 miles) from our hotel out into the countryside and experienced China the way Chinese do - on a bicycle through the city streets with cars, trucks and mopeds whizzing past, avoiding people walking in the road. Then we biked on dirt paths through the countryside and fields to the pier at Chouyang and another government concession raft trip.
This time we were on a bamboo raft propelled by a boatman with a pole. It was a 2 hour float trip down the river past floating restaurants and rafts selling water and beer. There were several dams across the river where the raft goes down a steep short shute and a photographer is strategically placed to take your picture. They are set up with a computer and printer so they can offer you your picture right away - amazing.
There were lots of young couples on the river, wetting each other with big water pistols bought on the shore before the trip. And of course, another bride taking wedding photos.
Lisa met us at the end of the ride with our bikes and we biked to her cousin’s village which is across from Moon Hill. We decided not to climb the 800 steps to the top of Moon Hill because of the heat. Her cousin cooked us lunch which was delicious - bamboo shoots and Chinese cabbage from her garden and eggs stuffed with pork. She cooks in her kitchen which is a separate building across the yard from her 3 story house.
She farms their .08 Mu in rice, growing just enough to feed them, while her husband works in construction. Her 22 year old son lives at home with his girlfriend and at the moment has no job.
Lisa said the government does not guarantee jobs. If one lives in the country, one can always farm. In the city, there is unemployment insurance for a short time but no welfare. So I wondered where are the homeless?
There was much construction going on everywhere. Families build 3 story brick houses. They save and build part way and save more to finish. Not many get loans.
That evening we saw a show called Impression Liu Sanjie, an outdoor sound and light spectacle directed by Zhang Yimou, the man who directed the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2008 Olympics. The show has been performed every night since 2004. It uses 600 performers, mostly local people, and has an audience of 3,000, seated outdoors, even in the rain. We had good weather but bad seats. We were too far away to see faces and we forgot our binoculars (the one time we needed them the whole trip).
Most of the show took place on the water, utilizing those same rafts we were on today. The rafters performed with long streamers of red cloth or circled a large moon with a semi-naked girl dancing on top. The last scene was 300 women zigzagging from the back to the front in lighted costumes, perfectly in step, like a Busby Berkeley movie.