Three years ago, I traveled with a friend to Chuandixia, a small village a couple of hours from Beijing. Chuandixia is famous for its old buildings, dating back to the Ming 明 (1368-1644) and Qing 清 (1644-1911) dynasty, and even though everything is geared towards tourism these days, walking around the little winding streets did feel very “historical.” We stayed for the night, and got offered a room by a nice family with a traditional kang — a large stone bed that is heated underneath — a very nice way to stay warm during the cold Northeastern winters. I took a lot of pictures during that trip but the one that stands out to me is this one:
This frame was hanging in our room, and as opposed to a lot of other features and decorations around town, I felt that this one wasn’t there for the tourists. The personal nature of the image – a family sitting around a large dinner table, perhaps celebrating new years, and a black and white picture of a young man posing with Mao’s Little Red Book with the caption ” Forever loyal to Chairman Mao” running along the side – felt extremely intimate to me. It are these quirky little pieces of everyday life, so often forgotten or ignored when we are traveling, because we are too absorbed in the big tourist attractions, that I love the most.
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