When a Chinese friend tells me that we are going to a 'village restaurant' certain images pop into my mind -- of the village being fairly remote, of sitting in a courtyard eating peasant food, for example. But I should know by now that picturing how something is going to be or predicdting how an experience is going to play out is a foolish thing to do in China.
Last week I took the birthday tour to the outskirts of Beijing to visit a rural church where a friend of mine is the pastor. The plan, as she had set it up, was to visit her church in the 'county seat,' then go into the mountains a bit to visit a village church, after which we would eat lunch at what she referred to as a 'village restaurant.'
Having been to the two churches in question on previous ocassions, and having been to 'village restaurants' before, I tried to prepare my travellers for the day's activities....that we would probably not have access to western toilets, and that the food would be quite different than what we'd been having so far (which they were loving).
The village church welcomed us with open arms and lots of fruit and tea! We sang hymns and prayed together, and my mom played a piano solo.
Then it was off to the village restaurant, which turned out to be a rather ornate building in a village on the edge of the freeway. We walked in and up to the second floor private room, which turned out to be rather luxurious. What's more, there was a private restroom with a WESTERN toilet attached to the room as well! My travellers thought I had set them up to be pleasantly surprised. I just felt stupid.
In this case 'village restaurant' meant a big restaurant owned by the village government.
We enjoyed a wonderful dinner while in the big hall outside our room members of the Chinese Communist Party Youth League were holding a rehearsal for un upcoming election ceremony.
Vote for the Communist of your choice, but vote!