I love the China’s suburb and villages. I think it’s because the nature weather versus the already smoke-filled cities. After my trip to Huangshan, I head for Xidi (西递) with bus ride (10 CYN), while some of my friends continue to Hongcun. Normally I should probably head there too, then Xidi. But Xidi is a quieter village of the two to spend the night. Least touristy albeit some buildings are in some state of being repair or restore. Entry 104 CYN, half price for a student.
Xidi and Honcun are part of the Ancient villages of Anhui and World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2000. The village has unique shape like a boat with the two rivers and the green mountains surround it like the sea.
I ended up staying at a hotel Xidi Travel Lodge since the hostel that I want is booked even at the end of Autumn season. When I come in, it’s raining hard and I give up looking for another place to sleep. A room for two is 650 CYN including breakfast. Pretty good albeit pricy. It’s modern and clean. Much better than the dorm bed I got at Huangshan. After soaking wet and miserably cold, I take what I can get.
Hot shower is only five minutes to save water I guess. The bed is comfy and clean. I don’t recommend getting food at the hotel’s restaurant though.
Hu Wenguang Paifang (胡文光牌坊)
Right in front of the hotel is the gate Hu Wenguang Paifang (胡文光牌坊), a memorial archway granted to Cishi Hu Wenguang (刺史胡文光) by Wanli Emperor of Ming (萬曆). The beautiful arc was carved in Yixian (黟县) bluestones.
Detail of the stone carving
Since I only have the whole afternoon for Xidi, might as well walk around. The rain is not bad although at the current time, most places are close.
The half moon pond at the gate of the village, right in front of the hotel.
Most area from Anhui, Zhejiang and Jiangxi provinces have similar architecture style from Huizhou (徽州) geographically and culturally. Xidi and Hongcun are well preserve village-turn-museum, showcasing this style and the Neo-Confucian beliefs in their lifestyle; obedience ( jie 节), filial piety (xiao 孝) , the honesty and integrity of the civil servant (lian 廉) and faithfulness and loyalty (zhong 忠).
The merchant class of people are known for their extravaganza craft, stone, brick and wood carving, paintings and porcelain as shown in their beautiful houses. The architecture are symmetries with the main hall as the center according to Feng Shui and extend to the sides (wings), back and up.
My first stop is Zhuimu Memorial Hall (追慕堂; Zhuīmù Táng). It was built in Qing Dynasty in 1794 by the Hu (胡) clan.
Next is Jing’ai Hall or Hall of Respect (敬爱堂), the ancestral hall formerly belonged to the 14th generation of the Hu (胡) Family to show respect for their ancestors, and as a meeting or gathering hall for the whole family for wedding and other important ceremonies. It was built in the Ming dynasty but it was burned down and rebuilt in Qing Dynasty. The Jing’ai hall is the largest preserve building in Xidi.
Next is Yanggao Hall (仰高堂). It was built during the Ming Dynasty, covering a modest area of 132 square meters, compact in 3 levels. Unfortunately, we can’t get up the stair.
I got the feeling they gather most of the art, statues and furnitures to show the opulent lifestyle of the olden days in both halls to fill in the space for tourists and not really in proper interior design. Hopefully it’ll change.
Mostly I appreciate getting lost in Xidi, not that I get lost since it’s a small village after all, but walking aimlessly around with Ziggy to admire the village is a way to go for me.
I love the architecture from the washed white walls, to the grey tiles, colorful doors, and horse-head gables above the doors and the roof. High ceiling windows and intricate decoration, paintings adorning the walls and corners. The live in its people and their culture and simple life… I can spend days here just to take photos.