A blooming cultural experience away from the crowds

The National Day vacation may be over but that won’t bring an end to travel-hungry culture vultures looking for more enlightenment.

The National Day vacation may be over but that won’t bring an end to travel-hungry culture vultures looking for more enlightenment. And, with the curtain of autumn well and truly open, tourists looking to take in the beautiful sights, sounds and smells of nature, Hangzhou, capital city of Zhejiang Province, is expecting another cavalcade of visitors to view its blooming flowers, colorful leaves and vibrant hues.

More than 17 million tourists descended on Hangzhou during the National Day holiday. Broken Bridge, one of the most popular scenic spots in the area, was so packed with travelers that a nearby telecommunication base failed, which caused all sorts of problems for cellphone users. 

But, if you’re looking for something a lot less frantic and stressful from your forthcoming travels, Shanghai Daily is recommending tourists refrain from visiting the more well-known attractions and take in some low-profile villages with cultural features, instead.

Not long ago, the Ministry of Agriculture announced the 2017 China Beautiful and Leisure Villages Recommendation List to the public, and six hamlets in Zhejiang Province were included.

Guzhu Village

Guzhu Village 顾渚村

The eastern side of village faces Tailu Lake, and other sides are surrounded by hills. It is dubbed the “natural oxygen bar” because of its lush vegetation and high oxygen air level.

In addition to picturesque scenery, the village is home to famous Zisun (凜楗) tea, which was highly praised by Lu Yu, respected as the “sage of tea” in Chinese history. Local officials used them as tributes to royal court in the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), which made the variety famous across the country. Today, it is still a noted specialty in Changxing County.

Enriched tea culture has been retained throughout the dynasties. A tea ceremony performance team consists of native residents. Nowadays, it is a must-see program for visitors.

Fennan Village 汾南村

The village has a long tradition of protecting the environment, proven by a stone tablet erected more than 100 years ago. It clearly stipulates that residents are banned from littering the rivers and felling in the forests.

Villagers have stuck to this rule for over a century, and the environment has never been sacrificed for economic development. Meanwhile, the villagers have preserved historical architectures and kept the original appearance of the village. 

Antiquated bridges and houses have been renovated and they have become features of the hamlet. In recent years, local authorities gave a facelift to the place and upgraded infrastructures. Natives cashed in on the leisure tourism trend and opened family-run guesthouses, providing homey accommodation and local food to tourists.

Longmen Village 龙门村

This village in Fuyang County might steal thunder from the village with the same name in Kaihua County, however, its namesake is now catching up, thanks to improvements to its developing traveling industry.

First of all, villagers have augmented the area of growing tea. Tender leaves and a fragrant aroma characterize the local tea variety. Hills are shrouded with mist, even on sunny days, creating the ideal conditions for tea. A high-quality environment of fresh air and fertile soil in turn produces high-quality tea.

Meanwhile, local residents breed Qingshui fish and run eateries, cafes and restaurants to lure tourists. Qingshui fish is a local specialty that has found favor with gastronomes in the big cities. It features tender meat and umami flavor due to unique growing environment.

Xikeng Village

Xikeng Village 西坑村

Throughout dynasties, the Ye and Ding surnames have dominated the village. Their ancestors left more than 20 buildings dating to the Ming (1369-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties and 40 folk houses built in the Republic of China era (1912-1949). Today, these antique buildings are still in use, and some are used as ancestral halls for worshipping forefathers.

Lush bamboo forests cover these ancient buildings and provide locals with raw material for arts and crafts. Bamboo-woven knickknacks, daily necessities and utensils that display sophisticated knitting techniques and simple designs can be found throughout the village. Most residents are skilled in the art of braiding bamboo.

Since the village sits at the bottom of a valley, mists shroud it throughout the year. Morning is an ideal time for shutterbugs to capture the village.

Lijiakeng Village

Lijiakeng Village 李家坑村

The village dates back more than 360 years after ancestors moved here from Henan Province. They settled down and built a complex of traditional buildings with painted windows and carved beams. These Ming and Qing dynasties-style constructions have been well preserved throughout the centuries and considered the epitome of classical Chinese architecture.

Different from common traditional houses in the Jiangnan region (in the south area of lower reaches of the Yangtze River), these quadrangles integrated northern Chinese architectural characteristics with the Jiangnan style, creating an uncommon design in Zhejiang Province.

Today, most of the villagers are surnamed Li, and an ancestral hall of Li family still exists in the village. It witnesses the family’s glory days in the past and a development track in modern time.

Zhilin Village 芝林村

It is situated at the northern end of the undulating Siming Mountain range. With lush vegetation, serene creeks, rolling hills and pouring waterfalls, it is an ideal getaway for travelers with families.

The village was built a millennium ago when a traditional Chinese medicine physician traveled to the area and discovered a variety of herbs in the mountain ranges.

He and his family were the original residents of the village. They were believed to be the offspring of the highly skilled doctor Sun Simiao (AD 541-682). The village’s name means “entering forest and picking herbs” in Chinese, which implies its origin with traditional Chinese medicine.

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