The detour was well worthwhile when we came across a small factory. You could smell the fresh cut timber when approaching and could hear the saws screaming in regular intervals. Gazing over the fence I said lets go in. I overturned their hesitation saying that you are with a foreigner and I could use ‘lao wai’ or ‘foreigner’ power to leverage our way in. Stopping at the brick and rustic guardhouse Wang Hua told them a foreign visitor was here and he wanted to take a look as I poked my head in the room to give them confirmation. They said no problem and the reception was well received.

The rudimentary factory was a wood framed open shed with a tin roof enclosed by a shabby fence with a total area covering 50 meters squared. At the back logs, which a series of three saws sheared the timber into squared dowels an inch and a half by an inch in a half by two in a half feet. They were then neatly stacked in humungous Jenga style puzzles nearing the front ready for shipping.

As we walked to the back, the workers manning the saw machines took a quick glance before keeping an eye on their fingers, but they never stopped production. I headed for the rear near the logs and was interested in the process from start to finish. Leading the way one of the log carriers stopped to ask my business and I said I was here to have a look. Wang Hua jumped in and said we asked the guardhouse and there was no problem; just a white guy here to have a look. Completely friendly he answered all my questions and motioned to do whatever I wanted. I headed into the open walled shed and the noise was deafening. The workers had no visible ear protection. The hard wood birch was the last of the last because of new logging codes in China and the timber was being cut for shipment to the US. In the land of the free the squared dowels would be refined into hammer handles and topped with a piece of iron for sell in America and a “’made’ in USA” stamp. The Chinese slaved over the timber for pennies and America raping Chinese forests would reap the profits.