Our intention was to head back to Tunxi and then catch a bus to some interesting villages slightly to the east. However, we just missed a bus and would have had to wait 3 hours for the next one so… quick change of plans and we were off (without delay) to Nanping instead. Far fewer tourists and generally more rustic, the village has been the backdrop for many a Chinese period film.
Even narrow alleys had interesting patterns in the stone.
There were three main family names in this village and each had a large ancestral hall for – family reunions?
These ancestral halls were quite elaborate and the courtyards and interior halls were grand and spacious.
Fire hydrants and electrical cables are fairly well tucked out or sight. Like the other villages, Nanping seemed to have most modern conveniences.
The colourful fabric still left from the filming of Ju Dou animates the courtyard and gives a small glimpse into the imagined past.
The doorways are deliberately staggered so that bad energy can’t rush into the house.
Now this kitchen that is really out of date! The house actually had four different eras of kitchens intact – above just the Ming dynasty part. Nanping was the only village we had a guide for and this was one of the interesting tidbits gleaned from her commentary .
Another alley curves off to somewhere…
Time to go. While heading out to the main road to catch the bus back to Tunxi, the view back shows Nanping’s beautiful setting with rice paddies and mountains.
Further along the road towards the slightly larger road… a water buffalo and her calf watch somewhat warily from the rice paddy as we pass by.
After lunch we hopped on a bus and went to another world heritage site village called Hongcun. The first view of the village across the small lake was stunning even in the rain!
We had booked a home stay for the night so first thing to do was find it and stow our packs. Much more enjoyable visiting the town with less on our backs. The room was simple but the setting just amazing.
At first the village seemed a confusing maze but it was true that the flow of the water was a constant reference to find the way.
This extensive house had a series of courtyards and interesting interiors.
What a pleasure to step from a small dark interior into a large courtyard… bright and open while still feeling private and intimate.
The intricate carving in the structural members would have been indicative that the family was particularly wealthy at the time the home was built.
This bridge was the backdrop for the opening scene of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon… so beautiful.
So I had to cross it too!
And over the top of the tiny bridge… lotus blossoms ahead!
The lotus is not just a beautiful flower but also a cultural and Buddhist symbol – while it grows out of the mud, it floats above it untouched and undisturbed…
The ancient villages of Southern Anhui province are considered a world heritage site. Among them, Xidi’s Ming dynasty charms along with the stunning setting were enough to make me promise myself another visit one day. These villages are living museums (you pay a fee to enter) with on the one hand ancient infrastructure and architecture and on the other, people going on about their daily lives in a perfectly modern way (in amongst all the tourists).
Xidi’s beautiful gate is the first monument you see when you enter the village and the last when you leave…
A charming gate leads back out of the village to a water garden and, across a narrow neck of land, vegetable plots.
Classic Ming dynasty roof top profiles… and communications towers.
Narrow curving lanes wander between the ancient buildings – there’s just enough space for scooters!
The residences still have traditional woodwork at the front courtyard. Often, the family still lives in the building. Tourists come and go freely but respecting that access is only if the gate is open and only to the front courtyard unless invited further.
Love these mossy gardens!
Caught on camera by my friend as I soaked up the ambience.
Many of the people living in the village clearly make their living in one way or another from the tourists. There are small shops selling handicrafts and local tea etc. Others will prepare a home cooked meal for your lunch at a reasonable price. The view above is from the roof top of such a home. After selecting what we wanted from the fresh local produce in her kitchen, our hostess encouraged us to enjoy the view from the roof while we waited for lunch to be ready.
These villages are great beauty spots in China and as such attract art students from all over the country. School was just over for the year so there were many taking advantage of the break or on group trips.