The International Steam Pages

Winds of Change 2010, Jiaojiehe

For convenience I have now grouped lifestyle illustrated features by topic:

The 'Winds of Change' series of pages from July and August 2010 records our travels from China to Malaysia and on to Java, Indonesia where we were hosting the 'Steamy Java Tour 2010'.

Click the country house link above for earlier or later stories about Jiaojiehe.

Back in 2004, Yuehong and I bought a small house in Jiaojiehe, a village in the mountains north of Beijing, and turned it into a rather bigger one.

Quite frankly, it's the right property in the wrong place. While the Chinese government is to be congratulated on transforming the living standards of its people, it has produced a materialistic monster, a controlled '1984' style society whose God is money and in which the individual counts for nothing. In other words, it's a great place for making a bob or two but afterwards the best thing to do is 'take the money and run'. I have already described how all around us, the villagers have enthusiastically spread more and more concrete as they and other incomers from Beijing have 'developed' the area in a manner which is totally out of sympathy with the beautiful surroundings. These days, we often get small tour groups down our lane whose guides explain that "the foreigner's house and garden" are the most attractive in the village. While we draw the line at letting them inspect us at close quarters, we have deliberately kept our outer wall low so that they can share our enjoyment a little, the first two views were taken from 'outside', in early and late Spring 2010 before the greenery had sprung up too much. The third shows Yuehong's annual 'rose show' and the fourth the view from the lane in early July 2010.

It would be nice to think we had some competition and for some years we did from our other two smaller houses (2007 view left), alas the new owners (2010 view centre and right) are finding out the hard way that gardens are hard work, even if they are cutting the grass quite often!

We have tried our best to keep our surroundings pleasant (not least by 'masking' our modern double glazing with wood lattices) but what can you do when your nearest neighbour erects a 'portacabin' right behind your kitchen? It's not our land, but it's not his either. However, he is the elected #2 in the village...

It's got to the stage, where, when she goes out to buy the vegetables, the villagers ask Yuehong where her husband is. The answer is quite simply, he's happier inside the garden than outside. So we're going...

Where? Well, for part of the time, there's a big clue in the picture above. It's not heaven but it's somewhere we shall feel a whole lot more comfortable. But first I have yet another Java tour to run.

Rob and Yuehong Dickinson