Day trip to Cuandixia Village
Cuandixia is located in Mentougou district which is about 90 kms west of Beijing. I had already visited the village in winter, but clearly had forgotten how far it was and told the others who came with me that it was an hour trip (just so you know it is 2.5 hours each way)but anyway I wanted to return to explore the stone paved lanes in summer and see the green trees on the mountains and glad I did.
So off we went, relatively early on a sunny Sunday morning in July.
I hired a bus with a few friends and colleagues from the Embassy and my visitor from Australia. Our travels took us past the sixth ring road to this Ming Dynasty Village, comprising 5.3 square kms, which was built by a single, extended, family from Shanxi Province over 4oo years ago .
It comprises over seventy preserved courtyards with about 680 rooms. I am sure a weekend away at Caundixia would be nice and also very relaxing in the evenings as there is not much to do. Perhaps a walk around the surrounding hills, enjoy a home cooked meal and read a book before falling asleep on your kang stove bed. I am told toilets are communal!!
About ninety-three people still live in the village; with many of the local villagers, especially the young having departed for the big cities . All families are surnamed Han [from the original Shanxi family] and mostly live off tourism; offering their converted homes to visitors for overnight accommodation and dining
Some of us took up the offer of dining and enjoyed Chinese food from a rather cute little restaurant where we sat upstairs under a large apple tree. We were lucky to have a wonderful breeze every few minutes as it was a rather warm day. One of our party utilised his wonderful language skills and read the Chinese characters (Hanzi) on the menu which allowed for great dishes to be ordered.
We returned to the courtyard home I had seen in winter that had a sign selling jars of honey, only this time we were able to buy some fabulous tasting honey for 50 RMB. And lots of my very favourite things; Chinese lanterns – all hanging throughout the village.