China trip – Southern Anhui Province – Nanping

rustic charm
rustic charm

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.

alley of Nanping
alley of Nanping

Even narrow alleys had interesting patterns in the stone.

elaborate roof lines
elaborate roof lines

There were three main family names in this village and each had a large ancestral hall for – family reunions?

mossy formal ancestral hall courtyard
mossy formal ancestral hall courtyard

These ancestral halls were quite elaborate and the courtyards and interior halls were grand and spacious.

tiny alley with signs of modern life
tiny alley with signs of modern life

Fire hydrants and electrical cables are fairly well tucked out or sight. Like the other villages, Nanping seemed to have most modern conveniences.

hall used for the filming of  the Zhang Yimou directed "Ju Dou"
hall used for the filming of the Zhang Yimou directed “Ju Dou”

The colourful fabric still left from the filming of Ju Dou animates the courtyard and gives a small glimpse into the imagined past.

feng shui rules applied...
feng shui rules applied…

The doorways are deliberately staggered so that bad energy can’t rush into the house.

Ming dynasty kitchen!
Ming dynasty kitchen!

Now this kitchen that is really out of date!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 .

winding alley in Nanping
winding alley in Nanping

Another alley curves off to somewhere…

looking back at Nanping
looking back at Nanping

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.

water buffalo
water buffalo

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.

photos (cc) 2013 Hilary Farmer

China trip – Southern Anhui Province – Xidi

Beautiful town gate with lake and mountain
Beautiful town gate with lake and mountain

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…

Courtyard, water vessel and view to lake through entry
Courtyard, water vessel and view to lake through entry

Courtyards…

View through village wall to water garden
View through village wall to water garden

A charming gate leads back out of the village to a water garden and, across a narrow neck of land, vegetable plots.

Water garden and view back to village
Water garden and view back to village

Classic Ming dynasty roof top profiles… and communications towers.

Alley of Xidi
Alley of Xidi

Narrow curving lanes wander between the ancient buildings – there’s just enough space for scooters!

Typical residential entry courtyard - looking up
Typical residential entry courtyard – looking up

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.

Beautiful residential entry court - mossy garden
Beautiful residential entry court – mossy garden

Love these mossy gardens!

enjoying another lush entry garden
enjoying another lush entry garden

Caught on camera  by my friend as I soaked up the ambience.

Roof top view
Roof top view

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.

Art students everywhere!
Art students everywhere!

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.

photos (cc) 2013 Hilary Farmer except #8 (c) 2013 Merlyn Foo