By the time the sun set in Anxi, the only noise I could hear outside was the crow of a lone rooster. The streets near the home where I was staying were empty. The skies were dark, lit up only by stars peeking out from the clouds blowing overhead.
It reminded me of home.
I come from a small town in Eastern Kentucky. Small as in population 6,000. Anxi, population 1 million, is a “small” place too, according to the family I stayed with.
Anxi is a county located in Fujian province. The closest large city is Xiamen, about an hour away by bus. Many people who live in Anxi work in Xiamen, and buses shuttle people between the two cities.
I only spent one day there but ate enough food to last me three. It’s customary in China to feed the guest of honor like a king. I happily obliged, until I couldn’t stomach another sip of duck soup.
I ended my short visit with a tour of the countryside. We walked through a tea field, surrounded by mountains you could actually see (there is no pollution in Anxi).
When I got back to Beijing, I thought of a song my father wrote, “Family Roots,” about longing to return to the life that he loved in the foot hills of Appalachia.
But I’m stuck up here in the this old factory town.
Nothing but concrete all around.