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The City & the Village Part I, a short story from China.

The City and the Village Part I a short story from China by Leighton Travels

The City and the Village Part I, a short story from China.

After a prolonged period of stability, I finally bid Belgium farewell in the summer of 2009. Uninspired by life in grey, uneventful Brussels, I headed off to China for an unforgettable year of teaching and traveling.


“Oh wow!” cried S, as the door swung open to our suite. The first thing we saw was the king-size bed, a vessel of a thing set between a pair of elegant side tables. Dropping onto the mattress with a wide smile, I sank into a pile of pillows and cushions. There was a basket on one of the tables overflowing with shampoo, creams and gels. Directly opposite the bed was a flat screen TV, set atop a wide chest of dark wood. Elsewhere, the marble bathroom boasted a sizeable shower and bath, two fluffy towels hanging invitingly from a pair of sparkling hooks.

“Not bad…” I said, fishing a hairdryer out of a drawer. “Remind me how much we paid for this place?”

Our nightly rate at The Green Tree Inn worked out at an almost laughable fifteen Euros a night. Having slummed it somewhat in both Beijing and Tianjin, we’d decided to treat ourselves for our stay in Jinan. Looking back, the hotel was hardly palatial. But at the time, it felt as if we’d just booked ourselves into The Park Hyatt.

Green Tree Inn Jinan The City and the Village Part I a short story from China

The Green Tree Inn, Jinan.

I knew little about Jinan, other than it was the capital of Shandong Province and home to just under five million people. From what I’d read online, it was a city foreign travellers did not hold in high regard. “Don’t bother!” came the recurring online advice. “Ugly city” stated one, “industrial eyesore!” claimed another. Right enough, the only reason we’d come to Jinan was to use it as a base from which to visit the isolated, ancient stone village of Zhujiayu.

The magical village of Zhujiayu in China.

Zhujiayu, China.

In fact, from our entire planned cross-country itinerary, nothing had captured the imagination quite as much as the prospect of Zhujiayu. Located eighty kilometres from Jinan, I’d been left spellbound by descriptions of a time machine locale with crumbling walls, clicking grasshoppers, a hillside temple and just two hundred residents. To say I was very excited would be an understatement.

Driving from Jinan to Zhujiayu

The City and the Village Part I, a short story from China.

Despite generally low expectations, we nevertheless resolved to give Jinan a fair crack of the whip. Hence we quickly freshened ourselves up and headed straight out into the noisy, traffic-infested metropolis. 

The City and the Village Part I, a short story from China.

Visit Jinan China.

Jinan, China.

Almost instantly, we found ourselves swallowed up on a main road with teeming pedestrians and noisy construction grids. As I would quickly learn, the sound of drilling and cement mixing was never far away in Jinan. Consequently, we changed up our walking route in order to get away from it. Here and there, the pavement petered out altogether, forcing us into the road alongside honking vehicles. “FFS!” I cried, as a gargantuan truck roared by, a tornado of dust enveloping us in its wake.

Leighton Travels travel reports short stories.

The City and the Village Part I, a short story from China.

Eventually, we came across a calmer, residential street packed with shops and restaurants. We’d just stopped to consult our map when a trendy young Chinese woman approached with a “Hi, can I help you guys?” She had a blue and white handbag slung over her shoulder and wore a grey T-shirt with the slogan: Watch my eyes because.

“Ohhhh, I love England!” she grinned. 

“I studied in Sheffield for a year, the accent there is crazy! Do you know Richard Hawley? We stood chatting for a bit, before she pointed us in the direction of a nearby network of market streets. “Say hi to Richard!” she laughed as we parted. “See you again sometime… maybe on Coles Corner! Ha ha”. 

The City and the Village Part I, a short story from China.

The City and the Village Part I, a short story from China.

At the market we soon fell prey to a dizzying array of tantalising aromas. There were food stalls everywhere and the place was bustling, so much so I hardly knew where to look.

Locals making dumplings at a market in Jinan China

Dumpling vendor, Jinan.

Our first stop took in some mini chicken kebabs, cooked up right in front of us on a charcoal grill. Moreover, we stopped by a stall for a plate of Chinese dumplings (jiaozi) dipped in vinegar. Everything was delicious and impossibly cheap.

Chinese dumplings

A sublime plate of tangy, Jinan style dumplings.

As we tackled the dumplings, I noticed a loved-up Chinese couple sat across from us, a few tables away. They were staring into each other’s eyes, their hands interlocked, a cluster of piping hot dishes set between them. “Aw!” sighed S, as the guy leaned over to give his sweetheart a kiss. He then proceeded to whisper sweet nothings into her ear, while she giggled. Next, he caught a chunk of fried eggplant between his chopsticks and fed it to her. It was an admittedly mesmerising scene.

The City and the Village Part I, a short story from China.

The City and the Village Part I a short story from China.

Until, quite suddenly, the man began snorting. A long, chest-rattling, coffee-machine cacophony of unpleasantness. And then… boom… he spat his offensive load right onto the ground to the side of their feet. His darling didn’t even blink. As if nothing had happened, they returned to their state of unencumbered romance. We, on the other hand, were done with our dumplings. It was time to move on.

Skyline of Jinan in Shandong Province China

The city of Jinan. Shandong Province, China.

Photo courtesy of Ucabunx. 

The afternoon light had begun to fade by the time we left the market. Soon after, we arrived at a giant park, where Jinan’s pretty young things go to walk their Shi Tzus and Chihuahuas. In a shaded corner, under some towering trees, we stopped to watch a group of old ladies slow-dancing to the funereal tones of traditional music blaring out of an old CD Player. Exiting the park onto a quiet side street, we spotted a middle-aged couple playing badminton outside an immense apartment block. The absence of an actual net in no way dampening the fun.

“Ni hao!” cried the woman, jogging over.

Her arm outstretched, racket extended, she invited me to play her husband, who looked on hopefully, tapping his racket against the side of his sneakers. It was only then that I noticed he was wearing a retro England football shirt.  We played for about twenty minutes, while S and Mrs. Badminton provided encouragement from the steps of their home. It was a priceless experience, the lady squealing excitedly during our competitive rallies.

The man took it all very seriously, punching the air whenever he won a point. That said, he was also magnanimous enough to applaud me on the occasions I got the better of him. Exchanging goodbyes, I remember feeling happy that we’d taken the time to explore Jinan. That we hadn’t bypassed it like everyone had advised.

Playing badminton with locals in Jinan China

The City and the Village Part I, a short story from China.

Following a fantastic night’s rest at The Green Tree Inn, we grabbed a couple of coffees and headed out to Jinan’s grimy bus station. On arrival, there was much confusion as to which vehicle we needed for the trip to Zhujiayu. Furthermore, my woeful attempts at pronouncing our destination (“Jew-jia-ooh”) only added to the chaos. In the end, we were ushered onto a precarious hunk of scrap metal, where we took our seats among a handful of locals.

“Do you think this bus will even get us there?” I mumbled. 

The first part of the drive lasted about forty minutes, coming to an end at the remote and depressing Mingshui Bus Station. From there we changed buses and it was a further forty minutes onto the village itself. For the most part the drive was not a picturesque one. However, as we closed in on the village, the industrial landscape finally gave way to deep green fields and muddy country lanes.

The City and the Village Part I, a short story from China.


By the time we’d been dropped off at the edge of Zhujiayu, it was raining and the sky had broken into a sheet of impenetrable grey. A short distance ahead, a crumbling stone archway marked the entrance to the village.

From under the arch, I picked out a rapid explosion of activity. Closing in, I saw three old ladies jump up, eagerly awaiting our arrival. One of them had a bunch of umbrellas cradled in her bony arms. As we entered the archway, Umbrella Woman literally attackedpushing her goods into my chest and shouting indecipherable pronouncements into my face.

The witches of Zhujiayu.

The archway women, preparing for attack.

Meanwhile, the other two women tackled S. Each of them shaking a booklet of faded old tickets at her, wailing over each other in high-pitched tones. Bùyào!” (don’t want!) she stated firmly, spinning on her heels. 

“There’s a ticket office over there,” I called. 

“But it’s closed! I don’t think they’re gonna let us in without paying something”. The rain was getting heavier now, the ground beyond the archway already starting to flood. The three women were making so much damn noise I knew we had to end this quickly. For the sake of my sanity, if nothing else. So I paid one of them a small fee for two of her grubby tickets.

She seemed pleased with this. But then a fight broke out between her and the other ticket lady, who was furious at having been left out of the deal. She was now demanding half the spoils, their argument rapidly spiralling out of control. Luckily for us, Umbrella Lady stepped in to try and break it up and we took the opportunity to escape.

Zhujiayu The City and the Village Part I a short story from China

Zhujiayu Village, China.

We followed a single stone path into the village, the rain beating down on us. With no umbrellas and zero cover, we were soon soaking wet. The further we went, the worse it got. Traipsing through puddles and tiptoeing across several troughs of thick, evil mud wasn’t much fun. On the horizon, barely visible through the treetops, stood the rippling peaks of some faraway hills. On a sunny day it would have surely been beautiful. But this was not that day… not by a long shot.

“I need to stop… just for a few seconds!” puffed S.

A foggy rainy day in Zhujiayu.

A rainy, foggy day in Zhujiayu.

Finding shelter under a tree, we paused, hands on hips, gazing at the path ahead winding ever upwards. “Look!” she cried, grabbing me by the arm. I spun around to see a woman plodding towards us, two bags of vegetables clutched in one hand, an umbrella held aloft in the other.

She smiled as she came, a kind smile that I immediately had a good feeling about. Stopping before us, she asked me something in Chinese. Clocking our bemused reactions, she simply laughed and jabbed her hand into her mouth.

“Yes!!!” I cried happily, “Yes, food! Thank you! Xièxiè!

Shelter from the rain Zhujiayu China.

The City and the Village Part I, a short story from China.

Shooting us another one of her smiles, she set off, motioning for us to follow. Occasionally looking back to check that we were ok, the woman led us up the path until it levelled out. Here, we followed a wider road alongside a decaying brick wall. Finally, a collection of stone houses came into view, each one accessible via a large, wooden door. 

She led us through one of the doors, under some hanging lanterns and into a sizeable courtyard where an old lady sat peeling onions. The courtyard was partially covered, thus we could sit down for a bit while she disappeared to prepare a pot of green tea. I immediately realised that this wasn’t a restaurant or a guesthouse, but simply the woman’s home. The old lady, I supposed, was her mother.

The City and the Village Part I, a short story from China.

Tea at a guesthouse in Zhujiayu China.

Zhujiayu Village.

Feeling invigorated by the tea, we accepted an invitation to tour the kitchen. It was really run down and, in all honesty, not the cleanest of spaces. There were shelves and shelves of fruit and vegetables, stored in various coloured baskets. A couple of skinned chickens dangled from rusty hooks on the ceiling, while a portable stove sat hooked up to one of the damp walls.

Our host urged us to simply point at what we wanted. So that’s what we did, trying to choose things that looked reasonably fresh. Thankfully, she also kept some meat in a small fridge, so we opted for some chicken too. With no idea what exactly she was going to do with this random mishmash of ingredients, we simply waited in an adjoining dining room while the two women prepared the meal. 

In the kitchen Zhujiayu China.

Chicken, anyone?

Oh how I wish I’d grabbed a photo of that glorious Zhujiayu feast. First came a bowl of wok-fried green beans and chopped garlic, served in a pool of melted butter. The chicken arrived in a mountainous pile of thighs, breasts and feet. All doused in a sweet and spicy ginger sauce. There were also side bowls of white rice and fried mushrooms. For dessert, she treated us to a plate of pumpkin wedges dipped in sugar.

I simply couldn’t believe it when she told us the bill amounted to a negligent 50RMB! (about $7). I can’t remember how much we gave her, but it definitely included a healthy tip.

The City and the Village Part I, a short story from China.

House restaurant in Zhujiayu China The City and the Village Part I a short story

Our gracious Zhujiayu hosts.

The meal had taken longer than we’d anticipated. As a result, there was only an hour and a half until the last bus back to Jinan. Bidding our hosts a hasty goodbye, we trotted back out into the rain and hurried off to Kuixing Pavilion, Zhujiayu’s hilltop temple. 

The hillside temple of Zhujiayu.

The City and the Village Part I, a short story from China.

At the pavilion, a custodian was on hand to greet us. She was obviously surprised to see two foreigners rock up, excitably leading us up a wooden staircase to the tiny shrine. It stands in honour of Guanyin, a Bodhisattva associated with compassion, mercy and love. 

Guanyin Shrine Zhujiayu China.

The shrine at Kuixing Pavilion.

Next she took us to the pavilion bell. There, we carried out the time-honoured tradition of ringing it. Pulling back the heavy wooden log and thrusting it forward with gusto.

The custodian laughed and clapped as its victorious clanging echoed out, a sound that reverberated across the village. When we were done, she presented us with a bowl of so-called magic water. Following her instructions, I rubbed the sides of the bowl with my hands, a custom which is said to give a blessing for life.

Ringing the bell at the hillside temple in Zhujiayu

Injecting myself with good fortune at Kuixing Pavilion.

“I think we have to come back here!”

I panted, as we jogged back to the bus stop. “You know, see the place on a clear day, maybe even stay a few days. Thus we decided to book an extra night in Jinan and spend another day in the city before returning to Zhujiayu. “The bus is already there!” cried S. So we picked up the pace, jogging through the stone archway towards our ride home. Umbrella Woman glowering at us both as we passed. 

‘The City and the Village Part I’ is the third part of my short story series Challenged in China.

I’ve also written travel reports from all across China.

I’ve been living, working and traveling all over the world since 2001. So why not check out my huge library of travel reports from over 30 countries.

Leighton Travels logo travel reports and short stories.


  • Stan

    another great story leighton so much contrast between the locations of jinan and zhujiayu. contrast in the people you met too. another guardian angel in many respects this time saving you from the rain rather than train station hell. what a priceless experience you had with that home cooked dinner deep in rural china. the badmintion experience also seems like one of those moments to treasure

    April 16, 2023 - 1:32 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for reading, Stan. Yeah, Jinan and Zhujiayu were great contrasts. The weather hampered our visit so much we just had to go back and see the village properly in better weather. Staying the night was a real treat, which I detail in the next story.

      April 16, 2023 - 1:52 pm Reply
  • kagould17

    What an awesome story Leighton. Its these types of experiences (both good and bad) that make a trip memorable. Always good to have a comfy room to base out of. Not really a fan of Chinese food, except perhaps Mongolian and Szechuan, but it looks like you had lots of food to choose from. The soaking rain day while a pity was my favourite, although, I am not sure I would have been brave enough to eat what they served from a dirty kitchen. Your experiences with blue purse girl and badminton couple show that the common people all over the world just want to help. Cheers. Allan

    April 16, 2023 - 4:36 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Cheers Allan, I’m glad you enjoyed the story. I absolutely adore Chinese food, authentic that is, as opposed to the stuff we pedal in restaurants in the UK. But funnily enough Sichuan cuisine is my least favourite of all the regional varieties. Just too spicy for me to deal with for the most part. Haven’t tried much Mongolian, that’s one for the list. As for the kitchens…. we were hungry I guess, ha ha. I often reflect that if I had turned down food every time I saw a dirty kitchen in China, I may have starved!

      April 16, 2023 - 5:44 pm Reply
  • Memo

    Even rain can’t dampen a positive attitude. It’s just amazing how you are able to cross paths with people who make such memorable experiences. The umbrella ladies emerge with every rainy day and are not into soft sell. The lady who cooked the meal for you was a distinct contrast. How did she know? How did you communicate? Makes you a believer. Can hardly wait for the sequel.

    April 16, 2023 - 4:52 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Memo, these encounters were just pure luck, really. Right place at the right time and all that. Your soft sell line made me laugh, and very true. Communication was purely exaggerated hand symbols and I was definitely more embarrassed about the situation than she was. Thanks for reading, the sequel is out on Wednesday.

      April 16, 2023 - 5:49 pm Reply
  • Rebecca

    When travel guides or travelers/locals call a place an “eyesore” or “not worth going,” I challenge that notion and go anyway. 😆 Looks like Jinan and Zhujiayu are far from being unworthy places to visit, and despite getting heckled by locals and torrential rain, you made the most of it! Gotta appreciate the kindness of locals and the amazing food!

    April 16, 2023 - 6:32 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      I’m the same. In my experience every single person who ever said “Don’t go there it’s a waste of time” turned out to be wrong. Jinan would hardly make anyone’s top 10 (or even 20, 30) cities in China, but it’s still a fascinating place. Especially for someone new to the country and soaking up everything for the first time. More on Jinan and indeed the amazing Zhujiayu in the next instalment. Thanks for reading and commenting, Rebecca. I remember that you did so the first time I put these stories out over 3 years ago. Pretty much three quarters of my readership weren’t around back then, thus I decided to re-publish with a subtle re-write, better photos, full SEO and all the rest of it. And most importantly, it buys me some time to write up my next series of travel reports 😉 Cheers!

      April 16, 2023 - 9:17 pm Reply
  • wetanddustyroads

    I breathed a sigh of relief when I read about your stay in Jinan – after the previous two accommodations, it must have felt so luxurious! Ah, but wait … we are back with construction and honking vehicles (another sigh) 😉. Haha, the romantic scene at the market – you had me there (but only for a moment)! The fighting ladies – I had a good laugh when I had to imagine the picture (you tell it very well Leighton). So, you may have seen Zhujiayu on a foggy day, but there was no shortage of hospitality (oh, but how could I forget about the three fighting ladies)!

    April 16, 2023 - 7:12 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Corna! The hotel room in Jinan was really needed by that point. Truly, three dumps in a row would’ve been too much to handle. Happily, I got a second bite of the cherry with Zhijiayu, which I’m looking forward to sharing on Wednesday.

      April 16, 2023 - 9:21 pm Reply
  • Little Miss Traveller

    Luxurious accommodation at last must have felt heavenly and both Jinan and Zhujiayu definitely seem worthwhile places to visit. Locals often tend to view their own neighbourhoods negatively whereas visitors see these places with different eyes.

    April 16, 2023 - 9:55 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      The Green Tree definitely couldn’t be described as “luxurious” (except jokingly as Corna did), but it was great to have a comfortable bed and a hot shower. I would generally agree about the perspectives of locals and foreigners. Though in the case of Jinan I didn’t get any insights into what the locals thought, so no idea. The negative opinions about Jinan came from overseas travellers who had passed through.

      April 16, 2023 - 10:16 pm Reply
  • anoush

    Some really priceless memories in this piece, Leighton. Having that ad hoc home-cooked meal prepared by a total stranger somewhere in the rural China must have felt so special. The few encounters you described with the locals in Jinan are endearing. Shame about the rain. As your reader, I am glad you decided then and there to go back to Zhujiayu.

    April 16, 2023 - 10:53 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Anoush, thanks so much. Zhujiayu captured my heart straight away, mostly thanks to the woman we met. I knew we needed to go back and without giving too much away, that decision was definitely a good one!

      April 17, 2023 - 12:07 am Reply
  • Travels Through My Lens

    Sounds like you had quite an experience in Jinan and Zhujiayu, and some great memories too. The local woman welcoming you into her home for a meal is a unique experience! I enjoyed reading this and am looking forward to hearing more about your time in China.

    April 16, 2023 - 11:19 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Tricia, for reading and commenting. More from this city and village in the next instalment 🙂

      April 17, 2023 - 7:17 am Reply
  • travelling_han

    Oh noooo, not the disgusting hacking again. It makes me feel ill to think of it. Despite that, Jinan sounds great – and what a bargain for only 15EUR a night! The food, the people, the rain….all of it sounds like such a wonderful travel memory and one to treasure 🙂

    April 16, 2023 - 11:54 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Hannah, I’m glad China appeals throughout these stories, despite the yucky and challenging stuff. I think I can promise that from here the series plays out phlegm-free 😉

      April 17, 2023 - 12:09 am Reply
  • bronlima

    Ah……. the wonderful.people we meet on our travels! The places are the canvas, the people are the painting! May the Artist continue with his box of colours. Hasta la proxima!

    April 17, 2023 - 12:50 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for your comment Geoff!

      April 17, 2023 - 7:08 am Reply

    A bittersweet experience, you could say… I can only imagine (and laugh at) the warring ladies, that was a strange few moments for you. This is a fascinating start to stories from China. In Delhi recently, the authorities are in the midst of a campaign called “skip the spit today”. Judging by visual evidence, I don’t think too many Delhi-ites are paying attention.

    April 17, 2023 - 5:14 am Reply
    • Leighton

      I wish them all the best with it. While I know people spit in Delhi and indeed across India, I never felt it was such a problem compared to China. Or at least that it wasn’t in my face (literally and metaphorically! ). In China the noisy spitting is pretty relentless. I have mentioned it in the opening string of stories to set the scene, but phased it out hereafter at the risk of sounding repetitive. As you read the next chapters, you can just imagine that it’s always there in the background ha ha.

      April 17, 2023 - 7:16 am Reply

        Oh Delhi was pretty bad, grunt snorting and all the trimmings! But as it’s by no means the worst bodily function performed in the street, you just have to get used to it, like everything else in India!

        April 17, 2023 - 2:19 pm
  • WanderingCanadians

    Oh gosh, sounds like your visit to Zhujiayu was off to a bit of a rough start with the heavy rain, pushy women, and then the ticket office being closed. It was very kind of that lady to give you some shelter from the rain and to feed you a hot meal. Goes to show that there still are many good people in this world.

    April 17, 2023 - 1:40 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      It was a lovely experience, and of course one that probably only came about because of the crappy conditions that day. Luckily, the weather was much better on our return visit. Thanks for reading!

      April 17, 2023 - 2:00 pm Reply
  • grandmisadventures

    nothing can ruin a romantic moment like a bunch of hacking…well, for most people anyways, these two must have been in the early stages when you don’t notice those things. I love the random wonderful people you meet in a place that was such a ‘skip this’ place. If nothing else the city has that going for it. And the lovely woman who fed you and protected you from angry ticket ladies- another random wonderful point of a place. I love the stone path and that beautiful bell 🙂

    April 17, 2023 - 9:39 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      The temple was such a lovely spot, so quiet up there on the hill. I do hope Zhujiayu has retained what made it special. Would love to see how much it has changed, though concede I’m unlikely to ever make it back. Thanks for reading, Meg.

      April 18, 2023 - 7:30 am Reply
  • Monkey's Tale

    That horking! And in a restaurant! And his date didn’t flinch!! The ticket selling ladies is great and seems so familiar, but my favourite it the lady who brought you to her house for tea and then lunch. I trust the chicken hanging from rusty hooks didn’t make you sick?! Maggie

    April 18, 2023 - 4:57 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      China! (horking) China! (in a restaurant) China! (no flinching) China! (meat on rusty hooks). That last one should’ve caused me concern Maggie, you’re right. But I think I was just in the swing of everything and accepting it all for what it was. I would definitely be more discerning today, that’s for sure. Funnily enough I never got food poisoning in China and certainly no truly awful stomach bugs like I did in India. Luck of the draw, perhaps. Thanks for stopping by, Maggie.

      April 19, 2023 - 11:28 am Reply
  • Mike and Kellye Hefner

    I so hope that your write a book about your travels one day, Leighton. You have truly met some colorful characters, and you describe them as if we’re standing there with you during your encounters with them. I can just see the scowl on Umbrella Woman’s face as you ran by. The meal you had in the women’s home sounds wonderful – I could go for the green beans dish and the chicken. Loved the post, my friend!

    April 18, 2023 - 7:16 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Kellye! I have often thought about a book, but not sure about the format. Especially as I have already given away so much of my stories on my blog ha ha. Maybe a novel some day based on the places and people of my travels. I’m so glad you’re enjoying this series, part II is out later today.

      April 19, 2023 - 11:23 am Reply
  • NortheastAllie

    The market seems like a really neat place to explore with so many local vendors and foods there. That is awesome that the couple were just enjoying themselves, even with the bustle around them. Also, the temple looks peaceful and beautiful!

    April 19, 2023 - 2:45 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for the catch-up Allie! 🙂

      April 19, 2023 - 8:46 am Reply
  • Toonsarah

    A great story as always – you have a real knack for making us feel we are really in these places. You also have a knack for discovering wonderful experiences even in the least prepossessing locations and the worst of weather 🙂

    April 19, 2023 - 9:51 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      That’s very kind of you to say Sarah. These past few years I have been sharpening up my short stories first written (poorly) many years ago. Zhujiayu is a magical place that I have tried to bring to life with words rather than my crappy thumbnail images.

      April 19, 2023 - 10:04 pm Reply
  • Lookoom

    Zhujiayu seems interesting to visit after reading your article. Funny to meet these aggressive saleswomen and then this charming lady, impossible to draw a conclusion about the local hospitality.

    April 21, 2023 - 3:04 am Reply
    • Leighton

      I think they were geared up for domestic tourists but not so much with aliens like myself. Which was a common theme across most of China outside the monster tier 1 cities. Thanks for dipping into this short story series!

      April 21, 2023 - 10:16 pm Reply
  • rkrontheroad

    A shame Umbrella Woman wasn’t peddling umbrellas, like I first thought! A surprisingly splendid meal. You always seem to find something redeeming in a less than pleasant situation.

    April 26, 2023 - 10:32 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Ruth, though to be honest I wish I had a talent for getting myself into less than pleasant situations ha ha. Cheers for following along with the series, much appreciated.

      April 26, 2023 - 10:39 pm Reply
      • rkrontheroad

        My pleasure. 😊

        April 26, 2023 - 11:27 pm

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