Friday, April 8, 2011

Chairman Mao and Yaodong Cave Dwellings

I met up with the two English students in Yan'an called Wang Ping Ping and Yan Xiaoying. Or rather they came and found me in a hotel because I got lost on a bus. They then took me out for lunch which was delicious (local handmade noodles in a spicy sauce with meatballs) and they insisted on paying (much to my protests!). Then we visited Chairman Mao's humble abode while forming the Communist Party, there is a hotel nearby offering the opportunity to 'live as Mao did' albeit in a luxurious hotel room in the style of the Yaodong, I declined this offer as it was about 10 times what I could pay for a hotel around the corner. The girls then took me to a small Yaodong community set into the hillside just on the edge of Yan'an town, it is interesting to see people still living like this when so many have moved to apartment blocks. Many people I later interviewed said how important this type of dwelling is to them culturally and financially. The original Yaodong are still warmer in winter than the New Generation Yaodong, possibly due to the thickness of walls and the fact that they are still connected to the hillside. The New Generation Yaodong form separate terraces away from the hillside. The traditional Yaodong still uses a K'ang bed which is a large bed heated below from the pipework coming from the stove. This combined with the solid earth walls keeps the dwellings warm in winter on very low cost. The K'ang beds are large enough to sleep a whole family and people sit on the during the day to carry out household tasks.

Inside the hall where Mao and his comrades had many meetings to set up the Communist Party. Chinese flock from all over China to have their picture taken here

Inside the cave dwellings where Chairman Mao and his comrades lived

This one has a timber beam structure that I have not seen in other Yaodong

The Yaodong where Chairman Mao and the Communist Party first had meetings

Chairman Mao in the beginning

Traditional Yaodong just on the edge of Yan'an town

Close up of door way with traditional paper windows and a smoke vent/chimney above right

Inside, K'ang bed to the right

A Yaodong community

Yan'an city in contrast against Yaodong cave dwellings in the hillside
The new ' Yaodong style' hotel built out of concrete

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