May Holiday
May Holiday

3rd May
Hi Ruth,
We have had the last couple of days off, taking it easy a bit which has been nice because it's been quite intense so far. There's a May public holiday for 3 or 4 days so we weren't able to have meetings with anyone or get any plans in place so we took a holiday too. Loads of tourists (from other bits of China) have come to the village in big flashy cars. Almost all of them drive past the main village without stopping to look at the market or buy something to eat and just come up to the posh hotel (hotel also has a restaurant but is 10 times the price of the market restaurants). Yesterday we had an adventure walk through the river (almost completely dried up because of the hydro-electric power station). It was very beautiful though. Today we went into the National Park which was expensive (relatively). There were loads of tourists there and despite the forest being pretty devastated by a winter storm, it was still pretty nice but nothing particularly overwhelming. Still, couldn't help myself and took a lot of cliched photos. There have been a gang of school kids handing around us the last few days. One of the girls invited us to her home to talk with her mum but it was obvious that the mother didn't know anything about it. There was a motorbike in the living area. It was quite run down. I think the family were more well off then some of the retired people and farmers but the house looked rougher and not so cared for. As soon as we got there the loud girl was really quiet and just put on the TV. I asked quite a few questions because it felt so awkward being there but it wasn't particularly fruitful. I asked if she or any of her friends would be interested in any evening classes and she said no. Anyway, we are having a big power-breakfast tomorrow to talk about the project so will email you after that.

4th May
We had a long, drawn out meeting today about short-term plans, intermediate and longer-term plans. There were lots of tangents and tentative criticism of most of our ideas, basically because it's all talk and no action and we're being very cautious not to leave a trail of art devastation behind us. Eventually after going round in quite a few circles we made some concrete plans to start-getting-on-with-it. Tomorrow we are going to the primary school to talk about doing some after school English classes. Harold will be leading this and will work towards a small performance which we will film. In the afternoon me, Laura and Adam and the interpreter (Jai) will go to this really nice restaurant (House Restaurant, it's a company restaurant). We will interview them about their business. We have been talking a bit about setting up some kind of museum in the village but having talked about similar initiatives that got it so wrong, again we're being a bit careful about what it could be. Talked a bit about maybe trying to set-up some kind of new restaurant/ornamental farm/museum as food seems to be the thing that interests people the most. Will probably cook in the restaurant in the square that we always go to with Adam on Monday/Tuesday without much fuss, just do it, hand out samples, increase our presence in the village. We are looking for a space to set-up a work area in the village as we can't or aren't doing much work in the hotel and we are too separate from the local people. Laura wants to go back to the woman farmer we first met and ask more specific questions geared towards ideas for a museum so I will probably go with her to film.
Off for dinner, will give you more detail later...

The food here has been consistently really good and we eat tons of it! Thinking about the museum, I'd hate it to be some sort of typical provincial museum with sun-bleached (laminated) photos representing the people and land, local industry equipment and boring captions. The Company are in the process of making a museum anyway which will probably house some of the above so I think it would be good to think of a specialised museum that would be a resource or have some aspect to it that local people are interested in. Would hate to make something that they don't feel is interesting or would feel alienated from and that would only be a stop off point for coach tours.
Let me know your thoughts...
m x

Topics: [May Holiday]


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