We entitled our Yan’an tour “Communism Day” because we visited many former residences and meeting rooms of Communist revolutionaries from the 1940s. I sat in Mao Zedong’s chair in his old residence! After viewing those places, which were in town, we traveled out of our way to see a very rural village, which turned out to be a perfect example of communism at work: basically, the government gave some farming land to a community of people. The people who worked more received more; everyone was comparatively poor but relatively equal.
FUN FACT: Zhang Laoshi was very excited to see a lot of the sites - I’m not sure whether or not he had been to them before. Incidentally, his camera battery was also dead. Well, one thing led to another, and I ended up being his photographer and thus now have about five pictures of Zhang Laoshi posing in front of various buildings on my computer.
That night, we had a traditional hotpot dinner. Hotpot, huoguo, is basically just that - a pot of boiling, seasoned liquid into which you put, well, whatever you want, really. Typically, there is a lot of meat, so I actually had a completely separate hotpot (yes, I initially felt bad, but I wouldn’t have had much to eat otherwise!) into which only went noodles, vegetables, and tofu. Um, can you say delicious!? It was double-sided; one side was seasoned with vegetables, and the other with pepper and spiciness. Guess which one I preferred!
Anyway, the trips to and from Yan’an were supposedly four hours but were, in all reality, around seven. This was not fun, as you might imagine: our bus was very hot, and we did this trip two days in a row. We did everything from talk to sleep to play camp games, and it still was just plain two days of driving, more or less. HOWEVER, I got some sweet souvenirs from a Communist paraphernalia shop and we ate lunch at a revolving restaurant, so the trip was almost worth it.