meeting Sani people in Shilin

meeting Sani people in Shilin

As of April 2020, the COVID-19 is raging all over the world and we cannot even go out of our house, let alone travel. Therefore I decided to talk about my old travels. These happened long time ago when I was much younger and before I got my digital camera, so I go slowly, scanning my prints and extracting from my old travel journal.

[ Aug.1996 ] After sightseeing in Shilin National Park in China, we moved to the village of the Sani people who guided us as promised.

The singing woman’s house was a small general shop.

China-Shilin-Sani woman-home-stringed instrument
the woman playing the three strings instrument

They took us to a room with the earth floor and put small chairs so that we could all sit down.

At the end of the room there was a bed and some soft toys were on top as well as a big TV which was totally out of place.

They served sunflower seeds and tea whose tea leaves were in the glass cup.

The husband of the singing woman was smoking a kind of hookah and let us try that.

And the woman started playing a stringed instrument with three strings and a bow.

After we exchanged our names and basic introductions, they started showing their products.

The embroidery was their speciality.

They put a table cloth, cushions, rucksacks, wallets and so on one after another.

They were quite pricy.

Among them there was a cloth with very fine and colourful embroidery and I was attracted to that, but had to give up because the price was 500 yuan which was too expensive for me, so instead, we bought a couple of cushion covers and a rucksack for 270 yuan altogether.

China-Shilin-Sani people-home-hookar-bamboo-man-woman
the hookah made of bamboo cylinder

Then, maybe because our shopping satisfied them, they started saying that we should have dinner with them.

It was unexpected, but it was a unique opportunity, so we accepted the offer.

They brought a low table and started putting many dishes: stirred vegetables, a dish similar to chilled tofu, another tofu but tasted like soybean paste, a kind of melon, hard-boiled eggs cut in shape of crescent which kept the shell on, and sausage.

We had a bowl of rice each and put those dishes on the rice and ate together.

They also served a alcoholic drink made from rice, which was very different from Japanese sake.

I had a feeling these dishes were not prepared for us particularly, but they eat these things in their everyday life.

Apart from us and the singing woman and her husband, their son and his wife joined us.

The young couple seemed newly married.

It was a fascinating experience.

Because the woman who spoke Japanese was not there with us at that time, we communicated with gestures.

On TV, a historical drama was on, whose subject seemed like Marco Polo Bridge Incident happened in 1937 which triggered the Second Sino-Japanese war.

China-Shilin-Sani people-embroidery
the fine embroidery bought for 200 yuan

The Japanese soldiers were in the drama, probably as bad guys.

After dinner, the woman who spoke Japanese came back with the 500 yuan embroidery and said “Now we are friends, so I sell this for 200 yuan for you”, so I bought it.

I may have been their desirable prey, but for me the whole evening was a priceless experience.

Of course it was their business to sell the embroideries, but I felt that their friendly attitude towards us was genuine and they showed their kind character to welcome the guests warmly.

I would say that this was one of the top 5 experiences in this amazing Chinese holiday.