Thursday, January 22, 2015

SHUNXIAN & JING LIN

Sisters Shunxian and Jing Lin live lives steeped in Chinese tradition as well as the cyber world. Belonging to the Hakka ethnic group, they live in a UNESCO World Heritage site in Fujian province in southeast China. Their home, like others in their area are traditional and ancient round structures called Tulou. These are large circular buildings with multiple floors and sleeping rooms arranged around the circumference, leaving the centre of the building open to the sky and where communal life is lived.

I stayed here for a little while in one of their spare rooms. The walls of the building are constructed of mud, straw and rice giving the massive building blocks tremendous strength, durability and protection. This particular building is part of the Tianluokeng Tulou Cluster, recognized as a UNESCO site. I stayed in the far one which is built in an oval shape.

Shunxian is the younger sister and has a decent command of English. She returned from university for the summer to help her family run what we would consider a bed & breakfast. Her elder sister, Jing is married with a baby and conducts the elaborate tea ceremonies for tourists while trying to sell tea from the families fields.

Life here is simple, quiet but rich in culture, history and tradition. The surrounding hills and valleys are brimming with grapefruit, tea and a multitude of vegetables, some of which I have never seen before. Just because life here is lived traditionally does not mean that they are unplugged from the world! Everyone has a cell phone and in some ways are more connected that most in the west!

PHOTO: SPENCER WYNN

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