It was just a few days after New Year that I traveled to Shan City, a southern forest city on an island. The city was more beautiful than I had ever imagined. It faces south to the sea with a long beach which attracts thousands of tourists every year. The sky was so blue, you felt as if you could see through it. The sea was so quiet and soft just like a water bed you could sleep on. I saw many people swimming and playing in the sea. In the city all kinds of southern trees and flowers were everywhere. But late that afternoon when I drove to a small village near the city, I found an unbelievable thing. It was a very small village located at the foot of a mountain. There were about twenty families which were mainly minorities. Each family had four or five children. My heart really sank when I looked around the village. In the village the houses were so poorly made only about half of the height of an ordinary one. They were covered by straw with such a thin wall that even a teenage boy could make a hole in it. Around the houses there were pig yards and chicken coops with a terrible smell. Inside of the houses there was almost nothing except beds, some farming tools and kitchen wares. The villagers wore their hand-made clothes which were so roughly made that nobody in the city would dare wear them. Some children wore almost nothing. They were playing in the mud. When they saw me they ran toward me and begged for food and money. In such a situation nobody could stand there without feeling sorrow and sympathy for them especially only a few days after New Year, which is considered the happiest and richest day. Even I, the poor student, had to give some money and food to the children. I strongly felt that the government should pay more attention to this village and improve the villagers’ living standard.
- by an ESL student, around 1989