China 1985

Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan 2018

China 1985

This morning we visited Shin Zhong People’s Commune, south-west of Shanghai near a large new amusement park!  Shin Zhong seemed to be a common tourist spot, as evidenced on our visit to the commune kindergarten (immediately following a Jetset travel group) when the pre-schoolers did not even bat an eyelid at the intrusion of our group, all looking like Soviet Red Army soldiers in our thick green army coats.  We then proceeded to the commune clinic, and (unlike the Jetset group) were fortunate to see an acupuncture treatment on the leg of an old lady suffering from rheumatism.  A few needles were inserted, then covered in a paste, and lit with a match to warm them up.  After a while they were removed, some bamboo cups were heated inside with a match and then attached by suction to the lady’s leg to draw out the rheumatism.  We were told that the doctors can tell if they have missed the correct acupuncture point because it would cause either bleeding or pain.  With neither observed on this treatment, we judged it a success.

Next we went to farmer’s four year old home to see rural people live.  The house was very spacious, especially compared with Mr Ding’s small home.  Compared with rural homes I have seen on other communes (near Xi’an and Guangzhou), I would say that this home was much better than average.  Then we were shown a jewellery box making factory before having a lunch in the workers’ dining hall, the lunch being based on beautifully fresh local vegetables.  When the commune workers dine there, they pay 50 fen (about 20c) for a dish of food, a cost which designed to enable the dining hall simply to break even.

Upon our return from the commune, we were given a couple of hours off before going to the Children’s Palace.  So as was the case the previous day, I used my free time to go for an hour or so’s walk, proceeding along main roads but also down little lanes, dodging washing hanging low over the footpaths, past kerbside barbers, old people sitting outside in the sun, and so on.  Indeed, one of the great sights of China is simply the faces of the old people, sometimes looking after their grandchildren or simply enjoying their retirement in the most prosperous and peaceful times of their long lives.

At 3:00pm we left for one of Shanghai’s Children’s Palaces.  These are large centres where children go after school in order to develop their interests and abilities.  Upon arrival we were met by the children who were allocated to guide us around, taking us by the hand.  We wandered through some video games rooms to the outside playground, and our boys joined with some of the children in sliding down the slippery dips – made of polished concrete!

We a saw a musical performance of dancing and singing on a stage, participated in calligraphy, witnessed a piano recital (to which one of our students reciprocated by performing his own composition), saw a ballet rehearsal (into which the boys were drawn), heard an orchestra of traditional Chinese musical instruments, saw model boat building and heard a piano accordion performance of ‘Click go the Shears’ (to which our boys sang in Chinese).  The Children's Palaces serve as Teachers’ Colleges during the day, but between 3:00pm and 5:00pm each day they become activity centres for thousands of children, who attend to develop their gifts free of charge under teachers who donate their time for the purpose.

Day 12


Saturday, 14 December 1985