I mean, I still can’t talk to boys, but whatevs. That’s not like a life skill that you need for the future or anything, right?
I had a lot of nerdy attributes growing up, but probably my nerdiest had to be my choice in reading material. You see, I used to be really into historical fiction. By twelve, I had already worked my way through all the Little House books, The Witch of Blackbird Pond and my mom’s collection of old Zane Grey, Western novels. Sure, I read Sweet Valley High and Babysitter’s Club books like the rest of my friends, but I also kept a secret stash of John Jakes’ novels at home.
I was like a closeted drug addict, but my drug of choice was the Kent Family Chronicles. Because what tween doesn’t love a good saga set in antebellum America, I ask you? Honestly.Given my little obsession with historical fiction, I have fond memories of the time my class went on a field trip to one of those old timey villages – you know, the kind where all the houses are made out of clapboard and the people who work there are dressed up like Pilgrims.
Part of our experience at the old timey village was learning how to do fun, old timey things – like make cheese and fashion lanterns out of tin cans. Now those are some life skills that are totally going to help me out in the future, am I right or am I right? You just never know when there might be a zombie apocalypse, and we all have to rely on our wits and any spare tin cans that might be lying around in order to survive.While my reading material these days is decidedly less nerdy, I still get a bit geeked out when it comes to historically themed villages.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of those people who wants to transport herself to the days of yore.
I grew up on a farm. I know what milking a goat feels like. I don’t ever want to relive that pain.
Heck, I don’t even like camping that much.
Besides, I’d miss my Twitter.
But I do think history makes for a fun field trip now and again.
In fact, I’ve been known to go a bit out of my way if there’s cheesey, olden days themed fun to be had. When I was in Japan, I dragged a friend all the way to Nagano so we could hike the remains of the Nakasendo trail, an old post highway that used to link Tokyo and Kyoto. Of course, the big draw for me was the fact that we’d get to visit Tsumago and Magome, two old timey villages in the area. Described as Japan’s version of Colonial Williamsburg, the two towns have been restored to their Edo Period glory. Traffic is not allowed on their cobble stone streets, and all the electrical lines are underground.
And, honestly, it did kind of feel like I had transported myself to the past – you know, into a simpler time when there were only two vending machines on every street corner in Japan.
Also, while in Kyoto, I convinced another friend to skip the temples for a day and go to cheesy theme park full of dilapidated, old wooden houses where they’d supposedly filmed all kinds of samurai movies.
They had one of those photo studios there like they have in carnivals and fairs in the States where you can dress up in old timey clothes and get your picture taken. But instead of dressing up like a cowboy or a Can-can dancer and posing like you’re hanging out in a saloon in the Old West, you get to dress up as a ninja or a samurai princess and pretend like you’re hanging out in front of some old castle.
Let’s just say, I do not make a very pretty samurai princess. In fact, I looked more like the horse that the samurai princess must have rode in on.Luckily for me, China seems to love its antiquey, old villages just as much as I do. And I don’t even have to go very far afield to find them. In fact, Wuxi has a surprisingly high prevalence of old timey looking places tucked in amongst its skyscrapers and Western-style malls.
There’s an old-fashionedy-looking merchant street in downtown Wuxi, where all the buildings look like they’re straight out of the Qing Dynasty. But instead of selling silk or tea, the shops all sell lattes and fro-yo.
Near the college campus where I teach, there’s a park that looks like a small, old-timey canal town.
The park is complete with life-size statues of people that I suppose are meant to illustrate what life was like back in the Good Old Days. You know, back when giant crabs roamed the streets of China and threatened to attach themselves to your feet.
A couple weeks ago, some friends took me to another restored village in town. This one is apparently the “newest” old village in Wuxi, and it was pretty awesome.
Not only were there lots of cool, old-fangled buildings, but also there were tons of cool, antiquey-looking advertisements everywhere.Unfortunately, the old-timey village didn’t have anybody dressed up like the Qing Dynasty version of a Pilgrim to show us how to do fun old-timey Chinese things like bind our feet or stage a peasant rebellion.
There was only this statue of a guy making tofu.
Really, China? Is this how you’re preparing your future generation for pending zombie apocalypse? Teaching them how to make tofu? Great. Like the zombies are going to be scared off by villagers who know their way around a soybean. Way to go, China, way to go.
And then as I was leaving the old timey village I noticed this unsettling sign on one of the garbage bins.
I’m pretty sure this is where the zombies are going to be putting our bodies come apocalypse time. Seriously, China, you’re just making this way too easy for the zombies.
It’s a good thing you have so many fun, old timey villages or this kind of behavior would be unforgivable, China. Unforgivable, I say!
P.S. China, you also need a photo studio or two where I can get my old timey photo taken. I think I’d make a pretty hot empress dowager. Whatever the heck an empress dowager is.Confession time: What was your nerdy obsession as a kid? Don’t worry I won’t tell. Much.