Where: rural Wuming Township, north of Nanning, Guangxi, China
When: June 2007
Standing in the middle of this tiny farm village, with our newly-adopted daughter in my arms, I smell and hear and feel the connection with my great-grandparents’ farmstead in central Illinois from 100 years ago.
The heat and humidity of a Midwestern summer afternoon *begins* to approach what presses down on us this June day in the deep south of China. The highway is far behind us and all we hear are insects, a cowbell, and the whispered suggestion of a breeze. I haven’t heard any jets overhead since we got here, and no one’s cellphone has rung.
My grandfather as a boy would have been immediately familiar with the tools and animals around us. My mother told me stories about visiting that farm when she was a girl: collecting eggs from hens, taking care of horses, avoiding the pigs while climbing persimmon trees.
Persimmon trees are native to China, too. They line the roadway to where I’m standing.
The fields grow rice instead of wheat and corn, and the houses are built differently, but I can trace the loose bundle of power lines snaking their way into the cluster of houses and speculate when electricity finally came to the old Anderson property.
The genetics are different. The geography is different. I never met my grandpa’s parents. Yet I think they would feel at home here, and they’d instantly accept our daughter as family.
How to get there
This village is just around the hillside from the Yilingyan Park grottoes, about 30 km north of Nanning City off the G210 highway, but since it’s unlikely that a casual traveler would be renting a car out this far, your best bet is to find an organized bus tour to Yilingyan and see if your tour guide would walk you around the farmland. No one speaks English in the village and no one there is expecting to see tourists…
Nearby accommodation and activities
The charming city of Nanning is quite friendly to foreigners, as it holds an annual conference of the ASEAN trading bloc. Their Natural Museum, Yangmai Ancient Town, Museum of Nationalities, and Science & Technology Museum are all recommended, and there are a number of large parks nestled in the heart of the city offering pleasant walks and outdoor playtime for kids. The street-food scene at night in the downtown core is famous across Southeast Asia.
Recent years have seen a bloom of western-class hotel properties, such as:
Nanning Marriott (near the International Expo Center, on the eastern side of the city)
Yongjiang Hotel (central city, easy walking to shopping, restaurants, riverside attractions)
Wanda Vista Hotel(eastern side of city)
Wharton International Hotel (on Nanhu Park)