In the autumn of 1991, the On-site Meeting of Development of Guizhou’s Non-cultivated Land was held in Meitan County, known as “Little Jiangnan”.
During the meeting, representatives visited the Hetaoba Village more than ten kilometers away from the county town and heard a lecture given by He Dianlun, the village party branch secretary.
何支书的报告内容丰富,且每一个大的段落都有“顺口溜”作总结,给人留下深刻印象。His lecture was rich in content and each section of the lecture ended with summary doggerel, which impressed everyone.
I didn’t know He Dianlun until I heard about him from Long Zhiyi, a writer and Deputy Secretary of CPC Provincial Committee.
That night Long Zhiyi was very excited as if he had still immersed himself in the beautiful landscape of Hetaoba. He told me that Su Gang, the former provincial governor, held that a writer should go down to the grass-root life, like Zhou Libo, and write about people like He Dianlun.
Several days later, I encouraged Qiang Lie, a journalist from China Youth News who came to Zunyi for folk-custom collection, to go to the Hetaoba Village in Meitan County with me.
As soon as our jeep reached the region of Hetaoba, the atmosphere changed obviously. A small road embraced several earth slopes in twists and turns and led to the Village Group.
Stylish girls who just left the vocational middle school of the village walked on the road with bicycle bells shining in the bight. In the distance a bare rocky hill stood alone like a monument at the end of a sea of green. Here, it’s already hard to see a gloomy deserted scene, which was common in Guizhou’s rural area.
We found He Dianlun at the edge of a field, when he was burying himself in clipping tea branches. His son squatted beside and inserted the clipped branches into soil. After these branches grow to the spring of the next year, they can be transplanted to other tea gardens.
我后来才知道,核桃坝村大多数人家除了种茶制茶,还培育这种茶苗。茶苗五分钱一株,湖南、四川,甚至更远的地方,都有人来购买,此一项,每一户人家就能够收入三千多元。 Later I learned that, in addition to tea making and planting, many villagers in the Hetaoba Village also reared this kind of tea seedlings. The price of the seedling is five fen per plant. People from Hunan, Sichuan or even farther places would like to buy them, which increased by more than three thousand yuan per household.
To be honest, I was surprised by He Dianlun’s look. His skin of face was solid which didn’t match the beautiful landscape of Hetaoba. However, for this reason, we could sincerely touch the past of this land.
Hetaoba have several big bights, revolutions are staged almost every year. People eat sweet potatoes and corn every meal and drink water only after climbing several mountains.
On snowy days, after having a bowl of pepper soup, it was He Dianlun who led seventeen men of the village to jump into the freezing Meijiang River for damming across the river and drawing water uphill. Afterwards, he turned to the government and visited experts to find a way of non-cultivated land development for the villagers.
He stood on a slope and looked into the distance. He pointed the sea of green and said, “Yellow mud is the main soil type here. It is suitable for tea planting. There are more than three thousand mu of tea in our village ... ……
Orangeries lie on slopes with a sunny exposure near the river cliff ... Villagers plant strawberries and grapes in courtyards ... Roads connect to the door of each house, so coal can be transported to our village from the outside and woods on the hill can be preserved”.
He kept talking as if he was talking to himself and lost in his masterpiece.
It was said that He Dianlun had a wish, which he revealed to the director of “Guizhou People”, a full-length documentary, during shooting. He wished to erect a statue of his made of yellow mud on a waste blast furnace in the village.
Maybe because the director’s reply was too simple, He Dianlun hides his wish modestly. In fact, when a person falls in love with the land deeply, what he or she only wants is to surmount life and death and believe that he or she would not die but integrate into the green that he or she created.
The statue is only a reminder.
When I came to Meitan again, many people had got the hint from He Dianlun.
In the other direction of the county, there’s a Liu Guofan. He’s an ordinary farmer. It seemed that unlike He Dianlun, he had no obligation to lead villagers for village changing. However, his hometown, Tuanlin, was as dry and barren as original Hetaoba.
Just as the saying goes, if you have no hand you can't make a fist. Thus, the dashing man made a difference. At that time, people saw him with a shotgun wandering on hills around the county town. Though he didn’t show much prey, he was quite excited.
Before long, supported by the county government, he contracted several barren hills and built green bases. With the expansion of the land, he bought cars and hired staff for management. Obviously, he became a green boss.
In June, 1993, he, a farmer born with vitality from the barren Tuanlin, became the first farmer in Guizhou who went to the USA on a tour of investigation at his own expense. As with much money, he carried the stun gun that some department gave him.
Not until his first flight in life, an officer, who went to see off, found out and took away his stun gun. After coming back from America, he was quite excited during a period of time for he not only widened his vision, but gained materially.
“I’m a real robber from the forest”, he said complacently, “whenever I visited a park, I paid attention to flowers and plants, figured out how to plant them and asked for some branches...”
I observed his Treasure Garden carefully and really saw several rare varieties there. Indeed, it was not easy to bring these exotic plants from overseas to Meitan. As a highland, Meitan should be a garden city. Liu Guofan thought so and did so.
Under the full understanding and support from the Meitan Winery, winery manager Liu Youshou, boldly singed a contract of nearly one million yuan with this farmer, allowing him to transform the winery into a garden-like plant in ten years.
With a promising prospect, Liu Guofan was busy in his career up and down the hill happily. He planned to grow saplings in his garden and transplant them into the winery step by step so that both the world and his mind can be filled with green.
Of course, the world needs more than He Dianlun and Liu Guofan.
In fact, as one of the national trial bases of rural reform, Meitan has a good agroecological environment because of far more efforts than those made by He Dianlun and Liu Guofan. However, it is difficult to find out these unknown green fields.
For example, Yao Shaohua was a driver, but he contracted several slopes quietly to plant Eucommia ulmoides, a commercial plant. I tried to visit him twice, but I didn’t meet him. What I saw was only a large area of Eucommia ulmoides as a silent evidence for what he had done.
Everything comes to him who waits. Finally, our efforts, that were voluntary or conscious, were not in vain. According to the data of 1994 published by the State Council, China’s forest coverage increased year by year.
If the increase becomes a trend and a global awareness, the world will be changed into a new look and people will be emancipated from the life-threatening hostile ecological environment.
Forest heroes are the dawn of the new century. Ultimately, I wish Nostradamus’ “King of Terror” is just imagination.
Head to Shigatse
Water of the Lhasa River is infused into the Yarlu Zangbu River near Qushui. Though the broad valley plain continued to expand ahead, we didn’t cross the bridge but suddenly headed to southwestern Shigatse against the stream in the bottom of the canyon between the Himalayas and Gangdisê Mountains.
A snow peak stood in front of us. In the especially bright sunshine on plateau, it’s like a striking road sign showing a stern spirit. Only after a long drive of the Hino bus, the tall peak finally disappeared from sight.
As the high-speed running stimulated our imagination, we talked at random and made romantic plans for the boring journey. “If we keep driving like this”, said a member of the Tibet Federation of Literary and Art Circles, “we will arrive at Katmandu by this time tomorrow”.
We were glad to hear that. Though the reality was always worse than the expectation, it wouldn’t differ too much on the Sino-Nepalese Highway with a fast bus.
However, soon after that, with a sound of tire burst, the happy atmosphere completely vanished all of a sudden. When the driver was changing the tire, we got off with our solid food to have lunch by the road.
I looked at the dark narrow canyon in front of us and suddenly I realized that the bus just broke down by a pass. Curiously, we seldom saw people on the way before, but at this point a group of Tibet women was repairing weirs. Hence, we cheered up and crowded around the group.
Some people were quite excited and even ran into the group. Someone got close to two good-looking Tibet girls and asked his friend to take a precious photo for him. In Lhasa’s sightseeing spots, to take a photo with Tibets is not free.
However, these Tibet women had no such an idea as if they came from another world. I didn’t take any photo, but I was interested in their leisure looks. It seemed that to them, to work didn’t mean to create but a way of getting people together, which cannot be enjoyed by dispersed single households.
What was more surprising was the smooth cobblestones used for building weirs. The hillside was tall and far away from the bed of the Yarlu Zangbu River. Then where did these cobblestones come from？
这时候,司机已经修好车,我们准备赶路,而那些藏族女子拥到车门跟前,虽不通语言,也没有手势,就那么默默地站着。从那有些忧郁的眼神里,可以看出她们并不希望我们离去。When the driver repaired the bus, we got on to resume our journey. Those Tibet women crowded in front of the bus door. Though we had a language barrier without any gesture, we knew that they didn’t want us to go from their blue eyes.
但汽车发动起来,我们只有用大家都会的一句藏语“扎西德勒”(吉祥如意 )来表达我们的祝福 ,随后就消失在深深的峡谷里。
However, as the bus started, we could only speak “tashi delek” (meaning good luck and happiness) to express our blessings and then disappeared in the deep canyon.
At this point, the Yarlu Zangbu River first showed its obstinate and unruly characters. Melted by the sun, torrential snow water pours in the Yarlu Zangbu River with lots of silt and formed big rolling waves which are black and yellow. The river split mountains into two abrupt cliffs on either side, while the highway passed through mountains in twist and turn.
In Tibet, all major engineering was finished by the liberation army, so did this highway. The Hino bus rumbled heavily and went straight on carefully. We looked at the turbulent flood outside the window at full stretch.
However, the Yarlu Zangbu River ignored all and only raised its metal-like black yellow waves against the river bank. The highway shivered nervously with roaring and whirling waves. “Collapse!”, suddenly a man yelled.
The bus stopped immediately and all passengers got off compliantly. After the bus passed the hazardous location and slowly stopped in front of us, we got on again. After several repetitions as such, we met an iron bridge.
The bridge was too narrow to accommodate more than one bus at one time. A few huge iron column stood in the river, raising a big wave of water that heavily flapped piers. Trembling with fear, the bus finally passed the bridge. We sighed with relief for the bright view ahead indicated a wide road.
Unexpectedly, it was just another terror. Surprisingly, no tree was seen on rolling hillsides and desertification land was everywhere even without a weed. There was no person. In the silence, the automobile engine made the only sound.
The sun was especially bright here and made everything bright, which made people feel anxious. The Yarlu Zangbu River is not overbearing or indulgent. On the boundless bed, it also gives out dying yellow light.
The Hino bus kept humming, but the humming became less monotonous with a sense of beauty during the rolling of tires. However, to walk out of this bleak land on foot is beyond imagination.
Suddenly, I saw cobblestones again in a sea of gray. They were different from those on the narrows of the Yarlu Zangbu River and sandwiched between mountain faults. I finally understood the plate-tectonic theory put forward by Wegener, a German geophysicist.
Due to squeezing between the Indian Plate and the Eurasian plate, sharp upheavals under sea around these plates formed the highest and youngest plateau, the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Hence, those cobblestones and silt became the best evidence for this radical change. So the triton we saw in the Zhebang Temple was true too.
In this boring environment, people become slow in reacting. Thus, when I realized the bus turned, it already runs on a straight and wide cement road. By asking people nearby, I knew that we arrived at the Shigatse Airport.
Due to high altitude, thin air and low sliding resistance of plane, its runway was the longest in the world. Generally speaking, there is very few planes landing.
On our bus, a passenger from the Tibet Military Region Studio told us that he was a duty soldier of this airport when the plane, carrying doctors from Beijing who came to rescue Panchen, landed here one night. Thus, he sent us here for visiting it on purpose.
At dusk, we came in Shigatse from the Nianchu Estuary, a tributary of the Yarlu Zangbu River.