Nanjie was a real disappointment to me. This is what I found online as a description of it.
Nanjie (Chinese: 南街村; pinyin: Nánjiē Cūn) is a village in Linying County, Henan province, China, widely reported as being the last Maoist village in China. It is under the administration of the town of Chengguan, which also serves as the county seat. In 1992, the GDP of this village exceeded 100 million yuan and became the famous “billion village” at that time, however, its output growth is proportional to the loans from some national banks of China at that time. These years, since it is unable to pay its huge loans, it is added to the reputation blacklist. There are rumors of bankruptcy about this village.
Nanjie collectivised its agricultural production and industry in the mid 1980s – when the rest of the country was doing the opposite, introducing market reforms put forward by former leader Deng Xiaoping. It continues to be run on Maoist egalitarian lines and has become something of a tourist attraction because of its staunch adherence to the values of the past.
So, I was thinking that this was an actual village where you sort of step back into time to the Mao era with people wearing the old blue clothes, few vehicles, banners and propaganda posters everywhere, and other things. It is actually one square with a statue of Mao and large pictures of the founders of the Communist party. It was really a let down. It was a good day overall. But, definitely not worth the two hour bus trip there to see a public square and a small, uninteresting park.
The day started out as it has every day we have been here. Cold, foggy, and damp. I was hoping for some better weather. But, I am just not that lucky. Speaking of luck, if you remember in my previous posting, I guessed when the bus was arriving twice. I did it again…sort of. Jim was counting how many stories this building was. As he started, I just threw a number out there…32. It was 32 stories. Ha Ha.
Back to today. We take a taxi to the bus station. We decided to use a different bus station this time. The taxi drops us off a block from the station. We are on the other side of a highway bridge construction site. Everyone has to walk through this scaffolding thing that is on a muddy path. It was one of those times that I just have to say to myself TIC (This is China). We get to the bus station and all is well. We get our tickets with no issues. The bus is in a traffic jam for a half hour just trying to get out of the bus station because of the all the construction. And, we are on a bus that is picking people up all along the way. Again, TIC. I just keep telling myself this all day.
We get to the bus station in Nanjie. Basically, we are dropped off on the side of the road. We get a taxi to take us to the village part of the town. So far, all I see is a small Chinese town with all the modernism that one would find in such a town. But, we turn down the road and see the large white statue of Mao in the square. There is propaganda being played over loud speakers. And the posters of the Communist leaders in the background. And, that is basically it. At least no one was charging us money for this. We walked down a road hoping that we missed something. We see an old Chinese gateway in the distance and head towards it. We walk down the street full of shops and food vendors. At the gate, am older Chinese man tries to talk to me. I ignore him as I think he is trying to get money from me or be a “tour guide”. So, Jim talks with him. The man follows us all the way down the street as we stroll along. We get to the gate. Apparently the man following us is gay and interested in Jim. The man makes an obscene gesture to Jim with his hand indicating that he wants sex. And, later the man makes a tongue gesture to Jim. I find this funny as Jim is a straight guy and I am the gay one.
We climb the stairs to the top of the gate. There is a young boy and girl up there playing. Their mother is minding a shrine to Mao at the top. The shrine is a poor man’s version of a Buddha shrine. We make our way back down the street and try to find something else worth looking at. We really do not find anything. I do get my picture taken with one of the era dressed guards at the statue. That was really the highlight of my day.
Dinner at Burger King, a taxi driver trying to scam us for a ride back to the hotel, and an eventual successful trip back to the hotel was how we wrapped up the day. The day was not really a waste of time. It was an experience. It was just another chapter in my life here in China. And, it was a day spent with a good friend. So, I can not say the day was a total loss.