After finishing up with the Peony Festival, Chao suggested an additional excursion after lunch out to a cave town, a middle valley village not too far from Luoyang. At one time, the entire village was built underground but progress came along and only one family still lived in their original underground home. This little side trip wasn’t going to be free but what the heck, there was nothing else to do.
First lunch at a different restaurant Chao picked with a few very strange items on the menu and wall… View image… (There were photos on this menu and Andy translated…lots of dishes with fish heads in them….) While there, we learned a few other random facts about China:
- Beijing has about 800 star-rated hotels with 130,000 rooms, not counting guesthouses, etc. For comparison sake, Las Vegas has just over 132,000 rooms. If you visit Beijing during the 2008 Olympics, a budget hotel will run approximately $250/night, luxury hotel $700/night and most are completely booked.
- The Chinese say they have three mountains on their shoulders: Medical care, housing and education.
- The government only pays 5% of all medical costs; housing goes without saying everywhere; primary school is free but you must pay for all other schooling.
Some additional wedding information for Henan Province. Got these facts while a wedding took place at the Peony Hotel where we were staying:
- The Bride and Groom drive in a rented Lincoln automobile followed by 8 (a good luck number, ergo the Beijing Olympics, 8/8/08) Mercedes Benz’s.
- It costs 50,000-80,000 yuan for a one-day city wedding.
- The night before the wedding, the bride’s family sends a small brother to sleep in the bridal bed and…pee in it! It’s supposed to be good luck for having children. That is one of the most unusual stats I’ve ever heard.
Time to visit the family Zhang in their cave town…View image…. The amazing matriach was 100 years old, still had all her faculties and bound feet. (I do think she had cataracts through.) She has 6 children (all living) with oldest son 79-years old. Oldest son sleeps with her in the cave bedroom at night and a 59-year old daughter cares for mother during the day. She also has 19 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren. (Watch the video below for the entire story…)
This cave has been her home for 80 years since she married and moved in with husband’s family. At one time, all the cave homes in this village connected underground to each other. Even though this strong little lady is the only one left still living in a cave home, she intends to spend her remaining days here. The cave entrance contained some wooden planks for her eventual coffin. According to Chao, when a person reaches the age of 70, they start making their own funeral preparations.
Chao also said that the oldest person in the Henan Province had recently died at age 130! Wouldn’t it be a blessing living to age 100, still able to walk, carry on a lucid conversation and be in reasonable health? An interesting and unique visit…