There are roosters crowing during the night. This is considered bad luck by the Kam, and the only remedy is to hack off the rooster’s head with a cleaver, so I guess it will be chicken tonight.
“I’m getting some ducks in,” says Mr Wu over our garlicky noodle breakfast. “You know, for the festival.” I don’t know, but I am sure I will find out. Daniel the cameraman returns from the drum tower in the morning light to say that the first ox of the mass slaughter has already been dispatched, and the place is awash with blood. Rather than film the aftermath, the director waits for them to clear it up, and decrees that this morning Pan will take me fishing, as practice for tomorrow’s fishing contest.
Never ones to do anything the sane way, the Kam prefer to catch their fish by hand, which is how I find myself knee deep in a rice paddy, sticking my arms into the muddy water in search of a helpful carp. Pan manages to snag one almost instantly and throws it over to me, so that I can do a good impersonation of a man trying to hang onto a wriggly fish.
He snatches one from the water, and observes that it is not wriggling enough. He shoves his little finger deep into its mouth, and its starts to thrash about, as you might well do if Pan shoved a digit in one of your orifices.
Jonathan Clements is the author of The Emperor’s Feast: A History of Chinese Food in Twelve Meals. These events features in Route Awakening S03E01 (2017).