After trekking across the beautiful mountain ranges of Huangshan, we took the cable car down and made our way to the second highlight of our trip, Hongcun.
When Michelle and I first arrived in China, we made a list of all the places we’d want to go in Asia, sorted by our desire to visit those locations (Star, followed by Diamonds and Squares):
It was a classic problem of resource allocation; fitting as many places to visit as possible within the limited amount of vacation days. Using the map, it was really easy to group trips together, which was how we planned to visit Hongcun, the 2nd UNESCO world heritage site in Anhui region.
Arriving at the 2000 year old village, it was immediately apparent the serene quality of this ancient place. Artists from all over China often come to Hongcun to practice their craft; There’s even a tower built in the village where they could get a high up view.
One of the unique aspects of Hongcun is the extensive system of Aquaducts that were built parallel to the streets; the water flows outwards from the center of the village (Crescent moon lake) to the outside lake, aptly named “Ox’s belly” due to the way the village is shaped like an Ox.
Lee told us that the ancient Aquaducts were built as a defense against fires; since the buildings were made primarily of wood, a running water system helped villagers quickly douse out any fires.
Hundreds of people still live and work in and around the village area; Although there has been upgrades made to the village to bring electricity and plumbing, the architecture has largely been preserved. We got to see the inside of some of the mansions, donated to the regional government so that tourists may visit the site.
As it turns out, Hongcun was the location where the famous Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon movie by Ang Lee was shot. We visited the school
It was well worth the side trip to visit Hongcun; Huangshan still remains the front-liner reason to visit Anhui, but Hongcun, with its authentic ancient Chinese architecture, remains an important site to visit amidst the rapidly changing landscape of China.