The narrow road to the school I take every day, but that is where I always stopped. At the school. Beyond the next bend I had never been. So today, at lunch-- we have a long lunch-- I turned my bicycle that way, and went right instead of left.
Sometimes the road ahead is much like the road behind. But sometimes there are surprises. Turning that corner beyond the school I found myself, quite unexpectedly, in a small village! Like many Chinese country villages it was a mix of ancient tile-roofed homes, built during the Qing dynasty, and just-finished or not-quite-finished styleless modern mansions by the nouveau riche. There was an old man cutting another old man's hair, outside, in an armchair in front of his house. There were chickens strutting beside the road. Someone frying lunch in a big wok on an open fire. Well, I'd seen all that before.
Beyond the village, turning another corner, suddenly there was a weird, multi-leveled tower, and then just in front, a gate with painted columns and mantel above. The paint was eroded, and indecipherable, yet looked somehow religious. A church? A temple? Or just some old villa from a century ago, fallen into disuse? I couldn't tell. I was able to peek inside though, to see a perfectly trimmed lawn, and buildings in much better repair. I will have to go back some other time to investigate.
Finding no restaurants, though, I turned around and headed back down the more familiar route. I stopped in the shade of some tropical trees, birds singing overhead, for an iced coffee and a plate of baozi (steamed buns stuffed with meat). The breeze swayed the branches above and rustled the leaves as I read my novel and ate my lunch, feeling just a little bit sleepy. Ah, life!