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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald (Newspaper) - February 28, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta Wednesday, February 28, 1973 - THE IETHBRIDGE HERALD - 33 An unspoiled idyll in China By JOHN BURNS Special to The Herald DRAGON WELL VILLAGE -Each of us has his Walden Pond, and I have found mine- this tiny, sleepy, smokey village cradled deep in the hills behind Hangchow, China's most beautiful city. Set' between neatly terraced hillsides, straddling either side of a crystal-clear stream, the village holds for me all of the tranquillity and simplicity that Henry Thoreau found by his famous pond. Unlike Toreau's, however, mine is an unspoiled idyll, for the village lies at a happy distance from the path beaten by the growing number of foreign visitors to Hangchow. Climb To reach the village, a visitor must take a back-country road that climbs for miles along a hillside overgrown with thickets of bamboo, breaking here and there to give a glimpse of the carpet of green rice on the valley floor below. At last, the road dive's sharply down through a tunnel of bamboo, levelling off at the outskirts of the village, huddled on what little space there is between the hills on either side. Guides give the total population of the village as slightly over 200, and date its beginnings back more than 500 years, to early decades of the Ming Dynasty. Beauty Tha settlement takes its name from the Dragon Well, a beauty spot back down the valley that is remembered best for the visit paid to it by the most glorious of the Manchu emperors, Ch'ien Lung, who is said to have drunk from its waters. Folklore has it that ths waters will cure the mosts wretched of ills, a legend that prospers on the strong, rosy-cheeked look of the people who live in the neighboring village. 3 Vv3 On a late fall afternoon, with a bright sun warming the valley, a visitor to the village could see women washing their family clothing in the stream, sharing its waters with gaggles of ducks and geese and the occasional dog. Some of the menfolii were puttering about nearby, stopping now and then to check the condition of the sweet potatoes they had sliced up and laid out on tables to dry in the sun, for sustenance when the winter set in. Busy Other men were busy carpentering - some at work on the wooden frames of the older houses, others building new ones, still others patching up ancient tables and chairs. The carpentry added the fragrance of newly-cut wood to the freshness of the air, whose only other scent was that of the scent from wood-burning stoves on which evening' meals were cooking. Some of the younger men were up on the terraces above the village, tending to row upon row of tea shrubs, whose thrice-yearly yield produces a brand of green tea - Dragon Well, of course - that is famous throughout China. Some of the older children were up on the teraces helping, while others cou'd be seen in the pine forest beyond, gathering brushwood and lashing it to bamboo shoulder-poles for the journey back to the village. Smaller children wandered barefoot about the village - curious at the sight of foreigners, yet so terrified by the production of a camera that they would scamper into the nearest doorway, hiding until the interlopers passed. Stayed Only one child did not flee at the approach of the visitors, and she was a pretty little four-year-old whose hand was firmly an- c'.iored ir. that of a fine-looking old lady with an immaculately g.'oomed head of silver hair. After introductions, the cud lady told us b?r name was Hsiao-yu. She was 77, grandmother of tha child, and head of a household ci eight sirce the death of her husband some years before. Apologizing for the absence of the rest of the family, who were away at work or at school, she invited us to step inside and take a look around the house, a two - storey wooden structure with a slate-tiled roof. Visible The doorway gave onto a large and sparsely . furnished front room, its floor stone-flagged, its rear wall dominated by a portrait of Chairman Mao so positioned that it was clearly visible to passers-by in the street. Off this room, behind and to the right, stood the kitchen-dark and cluttered, but adequate for the purpose, to judge by the rich aroma coming from a large iron cauldron sitting atop the stove. Upstairs were three smallish rooms, each with a four-poster bed and a chest of drawers. Atop each chest was a display of family photographs showing the departed grandfather, his sons and daughters, and their families. Spotless Downstairs again, and off to one side, was the pig pen. Inside were three enormous sows, part of a household menagerie that included three cats and about a dozen chickens, the latter given free run of the house. Menagerie or no, the house was spotless - a condition achieved without the convenience of running water, one of many modern luxuries that the people of Dragon Well Village, like Thoreau at his pond, seem quite content without. Save $19.99 Electric portable Save $24.99 Olivetti "Lettera 33" Reg. $94.98 Reg. $189.98 169" b-Deluxe portable features key set tab. Segment shift. Horizontal, vertical half spacing. 10" carriage. 86 character pica keyboard. Grey zippered carrying case. 5 year parts guarantee. 8998 a-'Celebrity 12'. 5 power repeat keys. 1 to 3, Vi vertical plus push-button variable line spacing. 88 character pica keyboard. Full-width key set tab. Vinyls clad carry-case. Weighs 27 lbs. All parts guaranteed 5 years. SCM Zephyer II Electric Adder Reg. $69.93 43.99 Reg. $119.93 99.99 Has split space bar, and de-jam key. 5-position pre-set tab; 84 character keyboard. Page Gage shows space lift on page Red, black ribbon and stencil positions, personal touch selector 9Vi" carriage has 8V2" line-of-write, lists 10 columns and totals 11. Prints minus entries, negative total and subtotals in Red. Electric 'clear' key for clearance across entire keyboard. 5 year parts guarantee Brown high impact plastic body. About 13x 8%x6'/2" high. Weight, 10 lbs. Stationery STORI HOURS: Open Daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Thurs. and Fr. 9:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Centre Village Mall, Telephone 328-9231 An unspoiled idyll tiny, sleepy Dragonwell village near Hangchow, China ;