We contacted a tour company and arranged to have a tour guide and driver take us to Chen Lu, an ancient pottery village which is not a common tourist destination. We were told our tour guide had knowledge of ancient ceramics, the village, history, everything we wanted to know. The village was on top of a mountain and the road up the hill was windy and slick with clay. We saw terraced hillsides everywhere where corn and wheat was grown for how many eons?
On the way up, I spotted what looked like an outcropping of purple clay that may have been like the Yxing clay, my son spotted what looked to be a kiln built into the hillside. We asked to stop to take photos, but the guide said we would soon see hundreds of them. I clapped my hands in trusting anticipation.
The village itself was so picturesque it was beautiful. It had been carved into the hillside, as terraced as the gardens. All the walls were either completely made of ceramic jars, or a combination of jars and bricks. The streets were vertical and had set-in ceramics. The houses were all cave houses, carved into the hills. (I will post photos of those next time). Although we had emphasized handmade
pottery, the first place he stopped was a porcelain factory, where he boasted about it all being machine made. He wanted us to go inside, I refused, which wasn't hard to do since the factory looked like it had been mothballed for 10 years. We stayed there standing in front of it for a heck of a long time, we didn't know why.
Then he directed us to what he said was a completely handmade pottery shop, he even demonstrated using his hands. We walked inside to find it was an old lady's home. After a bit of us being bewildered and she being bewildered by our entrance, she graciously invited us into her home. We kept looking around for the pottery the tour guide told us was there. None. The Lady served tea and her even older Auntie came over to as she said (through some interpretation) she had never talked to foreigners before. They really were very kind to us after we burst into their home so we felt we had to stay and be sociable for awhile.
When we finally left, my son saw a sign for "The Kiln God Museum". The guide said it was up a steep path, which I didn't think I could climb, but Deva was quite interested so the guide led him. It was to another person's home. After our first experience he knew this wasn't going to get any better so he left sooner than we managed to previously.
Guide also tried to get us to go down a steep path where he said there were potteries everywhere, but looking over a fence to the spot, we could see that there were none. Just more homes to barge into.
At this point the tour guide confessed that he had read many books and had a lot of knowledge about the pottery in this area, but had forgotten it all.
The next stop was when he dropped us off at a Mall intended for locals, not tourists. I wondered into a Chinese pharmacy and got scowled at. Then a floor covering store which sold mostly contact paper. Then we couldn't find the tour guide, so we called his main office.
We did have some clay experiences. (which I will write about later), but it was as much a surprise to the guide as it was to us. And we found them because I knew a little of what to look for.
Driving back home, we were tired, disappointed, and feeling like we had been cheated, when the Tour Guide turned to us and began to tell us that he supported Donald Trump. His support was shown by pumping his fists and shouting that name.By this time I had no patience and snapped at him, which he ignored. Deva tried engaging in a reasonable discussion, which he also ignored. He would not stop. I wish China had the equivalence of Yelp, but it does not. I can kind of see the humor in this, it was a bit like a sitcom. However, on the positive side, we got to meet two wonderful old ladies, and see streets and walls that were memorable.
This is the Lady's cave house cooking area and bed. The two metal lids are where she cooks over coals, when the cooking is completed the coals are used to heat the bed. She was certain I didn't have a warm enough jacket on so insisted I sit on the coal-warmed bed to warm up. I could tell where the coals were under the hard surface.
This is a shot of the Lady's pillow. The ceramic rectangular, glazed piece on the bed. I had seen pictures of Chinese ceramic pillows from ancient times in books, but it was a surprise to see they are still used daily.