What really strikes us most is the people and how direct and forthcoming they are. As we have lived in Shanghai and Guangzhou for over eight years, we know that mainland Chinese are very open about their age, how big their apartment and how much they earn, etc. But here, we encountered yet another level of openness.
Our host who is actually from Ningbo(寧波) invited us to dinner at the guesthouse and we offered to make a Cantonese dish. Akie met the host’s girlfriend in the kitchen who turned out to be a Cantonese from Beihai(北海). Not even half way into preparing the dishes, she already learned half of the girlfriend’s romantic history and Akie felt like a professional counseling advisor listening to the girlfriend pouring her heart out.
Since we decided to stay for 10 days, after the initial two days, we planned to cook simple dinner in our room as we have a small induction cooker and also because we find the local dishes a bit oily and spicy. But we ended up having consecutive dinners with our host and his lovely girlfriend who is a good cook and cooked every single dinner. We tried to give our host a big tip (via Weixin pay of course) as we felt rather guilty about getting all the free delicious meals. But inevitably he turned it down.
We went to the same restaurant (the most popular one in the village) almost everyday for lunch and had the local rice noodles(米線) and simple stir fried vegetable dishes. Almost each day on the way to the restaurant, we were greeted by a small brown dog which is owned by the opposite grocery shop. Kin tried to teach her to sit before rewarding her with dried cat food. But of course the dog was too confused initially. After three days, she finally understood and whenever she saw us, she would prance up and down happily and then sat down immediately waiting for her reward. We were sad to say goodbye to her on our last day as she did her dance and wondering why we did not stop as we had to carry our big suitcases to the car park.
We had a lovely time in Puzhehei and each time we drove past the lovely limestone hills and paddy fields, we were not only stunned by the beauty of the landscape but the close relationship between the animals and people. We often encountered traffic jam and could not drive fast but not because of the narrow winding roads or from other vehicles. We had to patiently wait for the herds of goats or cow families to cross the road to go home. Not that we were in a hurry to go anywhere and we thoroughly enjoyed seeing how both the animals and the locals play an intrinsic role in each other’s life.