Today we go on our second leg of our Anhui trip. On the menu : some fantastic villages and some other attractions of the province. That’s one of the perks of traveling with a local driver : you get premium intel on what to see, and how to get there and how long it will take to visit. Its really the only way to get around in remote areas in China, but hiring a local driver is not expensive and very convenient.
During my stay i paid about 350 rmb for the whole day : picking you up from the hotel in the morning, driving you around to all the sights you want to see, getting your entrance tickets and advising on local restaurants for lunch, and drop you off in your next hotel in the evening. No stress.
It’s a rainy morning when i leave for our first stop : Xidi village. I really dont mind about the weather too much. Although it is February, its not really cold. I would rather say fresh. The air is clean and humid. You can smell the rain and the forests, and there is a hint of burning wood in the mountain air of people preparing for lunch or just heating there houses… Aah… I love it.
Besides, the driver assured me that the villages look more beautiful on a rainy day, and he should know I recon…
Xidi is not that far from the Yellow mountains and the road takes you through a charming scenery of green fields and small white villages tucked away against the slopes of the surrounding hills and mountains, covered by morning mist.
After a short enjoyable drive with surprisingly little traffic, i arrive at my destination. I suppose most people decided to hike up the Yellow mountain today. As soon as you arrive, you notice that Xidi village is of a whole different order than the small villages you pass on the road.
The first image that strikes you are the old black roofs on top of small white houses that are so characteristic for this region, painted against the lush green hills of its surroundings. I can’t wait to get inside this medieval Chinese village.
I get my entrance ticket and am greeted by an ancient gate next to a small lake. The remains of new year’s celebration are still visible everywhere and all the houses are decorated with red lantarens and new year’s wishes on the door posts. It contrasts perfectly against the old walls and the gray sky !
Once you venture further into the village you find yourself in ancient small streets with beautiful authentic houses many of which you can enter. They all have a more or less similar lay-out with a small open courtyard (often used to collect water), surrounded by rooms and terraces. Decorated with delicate woodcarvings.
Although Xidi is not very big, it’s easy to get lost in the maze of swirling little streets. Soon i found myself alone and away from the other visitors, but that’s really what the village is all about. Soon enough you will get back to one of the main steets of the village leading back to the entrance point.
I really enjoyed stroling around this famous village. Its old abandoned streets where the locals still live their everyday life like their ancestors did generations ago, and its little restaurants and most charming antique shops hidden behind the beautiful facades of Xidi village. No wonder this is a UNESCO site !
The sun was slowly braking through the clouds and on my way out i found a small place where the fish and meat were drying in the open air, and a couple of tables and chairs outside in the sunshine. I truly enjoyed that nice local beer after a good walk.
Again i feel lucky with my timing, but i wonder how the village would look like in springtime, or autumn, or covered under a white snowy blanket… Ah well. I guess I can’t stay the entire year… I am already glad i could see this beautiful village.
And there was more to come ! It’s nearly lunchtime, so we depart from Xidi to go to a real small historical village often neglected by travelers : Lu Cun. But first, pls enjoy some more images of this authentic gem…