We visited Mrs. Zhang in Longtan Ancient Village in Yangshuo County, Guilin, China. A retired farmer, now widowed (approx. 8 years) and childless.
She lives independently, cooking and caring for her home with her niece and nephew providing groceries. It’s not an easy life with modern day conveniences. Cooking requires a wood fire and the bathroom has no running water.
A church pew type wooden bench that sits perpendicular to her front door and she and her two lady friends pass the day visiting – as they were upon our arrival. Watching others playing cards is enjoyable as well.
A proud woman, she insisted on sitting tall with a pensive look and I found her most adorable when I could get her to smile – capturing her youthful past in her twinkling eyes.
A large bag of recently made dried persimmons and sweet potatoes rested on the long wooden farm table. Upon leaving, with her infectious girlish smile, she filled bags for us to share.
Meet great grand mother Pan – a Yao. Yao people are an ethnic minority group that live in the mountainous terrain in Southern China. The Pan family lives in Dazhai, a village in the foothills of the Longji RiceTerraces.
Mrs. Pan is in her 80’s, married to a man 4 years her junior. She has a daughter, grandson and great grandson. They are farmers and help out in their daughter’s restaurant.
Their house is simple. The living area has a table, a few chairs, a wash basin, bags of rice, corn, peppers and supplies for their animals which live under their floor boards.
We were treated to a home cooked meal prepared on an open flame on the kitchen floor. An experience to behold – so far removed from our modern kitchens at home.
Dazhai Village, Guilin, China
I had the honor of photographing the Pan family, Yao people, in their traditional home where four generations live together.
The home is wooden.The ground floor houses their livestock – a horse and 3 pigs. The floorboards of the 2nd level living quarters are removable in two different locations and allows access to feed them. Meet Mr. Pan, great grandfather and farmer. He is in his 80’s.
He tried to look formal which only caused us to crack each other up. Especially when he smoked his pipe.
Apparently his wife is not crazy about the smoke but posing for portraits allows him the opportunity.
Neither of us could speak the other’s language. However, we got along famously laughing.