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Hongcun

Published Mon 26 December 2011 10:57 (+1300)
Tagged
  • travel (188 posts and 1102 photos)
  • china (21 posts and 160 photos)
  • anhui (3 posts and 23 photos)

Near Huangshan there are two ancient villages on the UNESCO World Heritage List, Xidi and Hongcun, and I'd arranged for us to see Hongcun before we took the train to Shanghai. Hongcun was 880 years old when we visited which when your own country is only 171 years old seems like a long long time.

Hongcun's south lake
Hongcun's south lake
Bridge to the Hongcun entrance
Bridge to the Hongcun entrance
Lotus flower on the south lake at Hongcun
Lotus flower on the south lake at Hongcun
Cool building entrance in Hongcun
Cool building entrance in Hongcun
Tasty foods in Hongcun
Tasty foods in Hongcun
Mushrooms drying in Hongcun
Mushrooms drying in Hongcun

After paying the entrance fee you walk along beside the picturesque lake immediately to the south of the village, which you cross to enter.

Inside the village, water runs down channels beside the footpaths and under doorsteps which makes peaceful tinkling noises. There's a smaller half-moon lake/pond in the middle of the village, with fat orange fish (carp?) swimming in it. The rest of the village is a minor maze of narrow alleys and streets, mostly on the flat.

Our guide Philip was quite informative about old China and the life of people in the village back then – under the wing of a merchant family it grew prosperous through trade between the 15th and 17th centuries, was a bit quiet for a while after that, then became prosperous again through the 19th. Many of the big public buildings are from the end of that second period but other parts of the village date earlier.

We walked up a small way onto the hill to one side and had a delicious but massively over-proportioned lunch – they always seem to include way too much food in the preplanned lunches on tours in China and it arrives relentlessly, even when we ask them to halt proceedings so it isn't wasted.

The deep-fried spring rolls with red bean paste filling were a hit, and the bamboo was delicious and wholesome. The ever-present stir-fried greens and the eggy pancakey thing were good as always, and we managed a start on the dumpling soup thing, the fish ball thing, and the turnip soup thing, before giving up and declaring ourselves full.

Hongcun was definitely worth visiting, scenic and relaxing, especially after spending too much time in polluted megalopolises such as Beijing and Xi'an.

Killing time in Tunxi

Colorful Tunxi shopping street
Colorful Tunxi shopping street

We had a few hours to kill before the night train we'd requested to take us to Shanghai, so our guide dropped us off in Tunxi (the service town for Huangshan) and we went for a wander through some shops, bought some seriously amazing tea after trying them out (there's different tea drinking procedures for men vs. women and each different type of tea!) and Pen and Tim had massages while Sarah and I chilled out for an hour or two.

So that was a really good day. Just Shanghai left and we were done with mainland China.