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Crouching Tiger Hidden Villages of Yixian

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya,

Tonight finds me sitting in the Tunxi Youth Hostel (free wi-fi Yeah!) and I’ve just had the most wonderful club sandwich after which followed a vegetable salad which was by far big enough for three people. I can’t say I’ve had cauliflower and broccoli in a salad before and I also can’t say the Italian dressing went down too well with them but it was good to see normal things such as carrots, tomato and celery on the plate.

I had another one of those 'where the hell am I and what year is it’ days today. In fact I walked around the streets of one of the villages used in the movie Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Now that is rather cool and one to brag about in a blog.

Last night I had the big decision to make on whether to climb Huangshan today or to head to Yixian County. I of course chose to climb Huangshan (mountain) and who wouldn’t. So today I got up and caught the bus to Yixian County as you do when you choose to climb China’s greatest mountain, Huangshan! It wasn’t until I was on the bus that I realised I was actually on the wrong bus and that I had said the wrong name without thinking about it.

Does anyone else do these silly things? Or is it just me and Homer Simpson! Ok, let’s forget Homer and myself and cross over to Yixian County

Yixian County is one of the two oldest counties in Anhui, has a history of more than two thousand two hundred years and was named after Huangshan mountain as it is located at the foot of the mountain (located only fifty kilometers away). Mt. Huangshan was called "Yi Shan" when Yixian County was built in Qin Dynasty in (221-207 B.C.).

Since ancient times, Yixian county has been called "Home on Wonderland".

Yixian County is full of green hills, clear streams and elegant dwelling houses all of which create an enchanting sight for anyone passing through. Also, the geographical structures and the folk customs of the area are in many ways similar to the state described by Tao Yuanming, a poet in the Jin dynasty, in his famous article "Tao Hua Yuan Narration".

"Tao Hua Yuan" is an ideally perfect place for living on earth, a Chinese Utopia. Within this Utopia can be found the ancient villages of Xidi and Hongcun.

Both of which even now remain picturesque tableaus of slender lanes, cream coloured walls topped with horse-head gables, roofs capped with dark tiles, and doorways ornately decorated with carved lintels. The villages are both fully functioning communities where you will find garlic drying in the sun and families sitting within the cool interiors of their ancient homesteads.

The doorways in villages such as these are frequently capped with upturned eaves and hung with overhead mirrors to ward off bad luck. They are also fashioned with ancient drum stones (gushi) and mirror stones (jingshi), leading to interiors decorated with elaborate wood carvings on panels, doors and ornamental brackets, all naturally illuminated from above by light wells (tianjing).

Wander around the maze of flagstone lanes, examining lintel carvings above doorways decorated with vases, urns, animals, flowers and ornamental motifs, and try to avoid tripping over hordes of high school artists consigning scenes of stone bridges spanning small streams to canvas.

<u>Xidi</u><u> Village</u><u> - Home In Wonderland</u>

Dating to AD 1047, the village of Xidi has for centuries been a stronghold of the Hu Clan, descended from the eldest son of the last Tang Emperor who fled here in the twilight years of the Tang Dynasty. Typical of the elegant Huizhou style, Xidi’s one hundred and twenty four surviving buildings and three clan temples dating back to the Ming and Qing Dynasties reflect the wealth and prestige of the prosperous merchants who settled here. In front of the village is the Memorial Archway which was created in honor of a native, Hu Wen Guang who was an prefectural governor in Ming Dynasty. All houses enjoy fine wood and brick carving which reflect local culture and customs. It is called "the Land of Peach Blossom" or "Home In Wonderland" for its beauty and tranquility.

As a cultural site, Xidi Village was added to the list of World Heritage by UNESCO in 2000.

<u>Hongcun</u><u> Village - Chinese Buffalo-shaped Ancient Village </u>

Hongcun Village is located at the foot of the southwest side of Mt. Huangshan and only eleven kilometers away from Yixian town. In the Song Dynasty the villagers constructed an irrigation canal intervening every house, so virtually every household in the village has easy access of the canal. The waterways of the village were supposed to be designed to provide source of washing water and fire water in case of emergency. The construction was designed in similarity to a buffalo’s body structure.

Nanhu Lake is shaped like the buffalo’s belly; Moon Pond looks like its stomach and channel its intestines. This vivid layout of buffalo is one outstanding feature of the village.

All the buildings follow local architectural style and share exquisite carvings and are magnificent symbols of its time. They were built with fine craftsmanship that is regarded as some of the best in China. The village has beautiful scenery (simple yet elegant), a fine mixture of old houses, green hills and clear creeks. Hongcun Village has always enjoyed the name "a village in the Chinese painting". The village now boasts one hundred and fifty eight dwelling houses dating back to the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties.

Hongcun Village was added to the list of the World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in late 2000. It is also the location for the famous prize winning film "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon".

FOR THOSE who are wondering what all the Huizhou this and that is all about I will hopefully be visiting the Huizhou Region sometime in the next week or so and will add a heap of information on the salt merchants and the Huizhou way of life. In short though, Huizhou was a society with its own culture but more on that hopefully soon.

FOR THOSE who are time or money limited and who are wondering which village too visit out of the two, for me there is no question. The village of Hongcun wins hands down.

<u>HOW MUCH AND HOW TO GET TO XIDI AND HONGCUN VILLAGES</u>

Most people head straight to the youth hostel and book a tour of Yixian County as it not only takes you to both of the above villages but it also includes Nanping Village and Gaunlu Village. I have seen more than my fair share of ancient towns and villages and the thought of visiting four of them in one day makes me want to find a colouring book and some crayons and stay home and colour instead. From experience even two in one afternoon can be more than enough unless you are flying from one to another in a different province. If they are in the same area then usually the only difference will be the surroundings and the formation of the village which is why both Xidi and Hongcun are the perfect two to view.

<u>To Yixian</u>

I then decided to do it my own way and get one from station to the other just as the locals do so I grabbed a small bus (13 Yuan) from the train station car park at 9:30am and soon we were on our way to Yixian town. The journey took around an hour and a half and when we reached Yixian I then had to change buses to get to Xidi Village.

<u>To XidiVillage</u>

The next bus cost 3 Yuan and we were there in a flash.

<u>To Hongcun Village</u>

There are supposed to be buses between both villages on the hour but as I left Xidi during lunch time the gate guard told me not to worry about waiting for the 1pm or 2pm bus as they don’t arrive that often due to the drivers either being at lunch or home sleeping so I grabbed a bus back to Yixian (3 Yuan) and then jumped on the next Hongcun bound bus (3.5 Yuan) which took about ten minutes. To get back to Tunxi from either village you have to once again head back to Yixian Town and grab the next bus to Tunxi which will cost another 13 Yuan.

<u>Why dong I grab a tour bus?</u>

I’ve been asked why I don’t just grab a tour bus to and from the places I go and I guess I have two answers to give. One of course is that in the places I live and teach I am so used to catching a little bus to get to another little bus to take me to the place I really want to go.

My second answer is for the travelers who come to a country for a short time that want to be cool and not join anything that has the word tour in it. I would say that on any given day such as today there was between one to two hours extra spent either on a small bus to get to another small bus or waiting for either. Finding someway to get you directly to and from a place is more than just a great idea and even if you think you will need more time than the tour bus allows you most likely won’t.

Several hours in a place like an ancient village really is more than enough. Beers N Noodles toya…..shane ___________________________________________________________

The soundtrack to this entry was by the lovely Tori Amos The album was &#8216;Under The Pink’ ____________________________________________________________

Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages

Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages


Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages

Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages


Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages

Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages


Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages

Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages


Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages

Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages


Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages

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Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages

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Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages

Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages


Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages

Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages


Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages

Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages


Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages

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Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages

Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages


Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages

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Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages

Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages


Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages

Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages


Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages

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Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages

Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages


Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages

Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages


Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages

Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages


Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages

Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages


Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages

Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages


Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages

Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages


Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages

Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages


Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages

Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages


Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages

Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages


Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages

Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages


Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages

Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages


Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages

Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages


Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages

Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages


Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages

Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages


Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages

Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages


Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages

Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages


Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages

Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages


Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages

Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages


Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages

Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages


Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages

Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages


Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages

Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages


Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages

Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages


Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages

Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages


Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages

Ancient Xidi &#38;amp; Hongcun Villages

Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China

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