September 07, 2009

Ancient Towns: Cuandixia

The vast majority of tourist sites in Beijing are not as old as history would dictate. Many have been reconstructed in recent times. Although the style of architecture may be old, the physical construction is new. There is very little wear and tear to indicate years of usage, so a modern day visitor might not fully appreciate the authenticity of the site. Every once in a while though, it is possible to uncover a hidden gem that appears to have been left unrestored. One such place was Cuandixia, an ancient Ming village around a hundred kilometers outside of Beijing.

Situated on a hillside, the village has not changed much in the past 500 years apart from the fact that the residents have all joined the tourist industry. Most of the homes also serve as either restaurants or guesthouses. Time moves slowly in Cuandixia. I had Chinese style pancakes at the house of an old couple. It took them almost 30 minutes to make the first one and another 15 to make the second one. After lunch I hiked around the surroundings. The Line in the Sky is a popular landmark where light shines through a gap in a ravine. I also ventured to the Fairy Pool. I waited a few moments but no Chinese beauty emerged from within, so I headed back into town. This time machine into China's past made for a pleasant day out.

"If there is any period one would desire to be born in, is it not the age of revolution; when the old and the new stand side by side and admit of being compared; when the energies of all men are searched by fear and by hope; when the historic glories of the old can be compensated by the rich possibilities of the new era? This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it."
 - Ralph Waldo Emerson -