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November 23rd 2018
Published: November 10th 2020
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Another early start as I was off to another UNESCO World heritage Village today, the village of Xidi. I headed back to the bus station to get the 8 am bus. I was going to take the official bus today, as the minivans don't run to Xidi, but drop you on the main road, which is about a 3 km walk away from the village. Some bloke found out the hard way in the mini van the day before. The bus journey wasn't too long and it felt really quick. We were at Xidi before I knew it. The village seemed pretty quiet as there were only a couple of tour groups there that early. I headed to the ticket office and bought my ticket. It was 104 RMB, the same price as the ticket for Hongcun had been.

I headed through the entrance and made my way a few steps down to Ming Jing Lake. There was a pretty wooden boat in the water, it reminded me a little of the Marble Boat at the Summer Palace. Standing by the water I had a great view of the Hu Wenguang Memorial Archway. It was built during the reign of the Ming Dynasty to commemorate Hu Wenguang, a Ming officer and the provincial governor. I came across a hole in the wall style coffee shop, since it had been a bugger to find a coffee in Hongcun, I bought one immediately and headed to one of the benches across the square to drink it and people watch for a bit. It was still quiet so I got see what felt like the village waking up. People were coming out of their homes and businesses and going about their day. Once my coffee was finished, I headed up one of the streets for a look around. I loved the early morning sun as it cast a little haze of the view and made it feel like sleepy village. I didn't find much on my walk up the street. There were some stalls and shops that were empty, but I bet would be full in the peal tourist season. There was some pretty artwork on the walls of some of the buildings. There were also quite a few art students about with their easels set up capturing the beautiful buildings.

I made my way back to the archway and the lake and then wandered up another street. I was a little surprised to see lots of chickens/geese/ducks (I'm not sure which) strung up outside of the shops, basking the late autumn sun. I presume that they had been preserved somehow. I was surprised as I hadn't seen any the previous day when in Hongcun, and wondered whether they were a local Xidi specialty. The streets were quieter than those of Hongcun as I walked around. The gorgeous Hui style buildings lined the streets. Included in the ticket was entrance to some of the village's ancient houses. The first one I came to was Kanggu Zhai. This house was built in 1662, during the reign of the Qing Dynasty's Emperor Kangxi. The original owner of the house was a scholar, who became a successful businessman. I had a quick walk around, but I prefer looking at the exterior of these houses. I love all the red lanterns and banners with good luck messages that adorn the entranceways. The next part of my walk took me to Ruiyu Ting. This was also built during the Qing Dynasty, but about two hundred years later than the previous building during the reign of Emperor Xianfeng. The courtyard was quite cute and filled with pots with plants in them. When I exited Ruiyi Ting, I got to see a monk doing what looked like some shopping off a local seller. It was nice sight to see.

My next stop was Taoli Yuan, which was built during the Qing Dynasty. The house had some beautifully carved interior walls and edgings. I wandered down more back alleys. Most were pretty quiet and I had a nose in the courtyards of the different buildings. I came to Xi Yuan, which was built during Daoguang of the Qing Dynasty's reign. Hu Wenzhao was the original owner and he had been the magistrate of Kaifeng County. The courtyard was designed in the style of a Suzhou Garden. I loved the courtyard garden ad it was my favourite of the different places I'd visited in Xidi. There was a lot of greenery and some beautiful red roses and berries in the garden. I also visited Dong Yuan, but it wasn't as impressive as Xi Yuan. I wandered down a small alleyway that was lined with art students. The alleyways are quite small, but there was still enough room for me to pass through easily next to the art students. I came out in a small square with what looked like a temple on one side of it. In front of the temple, there were a variety of vegetables drying in the sun. What I thought was temple was actually a hall called Zhuimu Tang and since it was open to the public, I had a look around. It was built in 1794 by Hu Guansan, who was the 24th leader of the Hu Mingjing clan. He built it in memory of his grandfather and father, who had done a lot of charitable work, upheld culture and advocated for justice. I liked the hall especially the use of the deep red for wall hangings.

As I walked around the village some more, I passed more food stuffs drying in the sun and other food stuff for sale. I also passed some building that were being renovated. I passed loads more art students. I wondered if they came from the local area or if they were art students from all over China. I headed to the edge of the village to take in the views of the surrounding countryside. The field all looked so lush and green, it was hard to imagine how hard the area had been hit by the famine decades before. I took the path leading further away from the village to the observation point. I liked the big stepping stones to cross the river. There was also a pagoda to take rest in and some locals selling drinks. The path up to the observation point didn't take long to walk about 5-10 minutes, and it wasn't too steep. There were a couple of different places to stop off at to look at the views. The views of the village were great. The countryside was lush and green with some autumnal shaded trees and bushes, and the village was nestled in the small mountains surrounding it. The white buildings with their grey/black roofs stood out from the landscape but not jarringly.

I was a bit hungry as I headed back into the village, so after a bit of a walk around, I stopped at one of the hole in the wall places that was selling snacks. I got some kind of tofu fried and then covered in a sauce with some pickled vegetables. I think it may have been stinky tofu, but the sauce masked the taste. The sauce was nice and had a bit of a kick to it. On my way out of the village, I decided to stop for a coffee in a café I had come across, it was owned by the same group as the hostel I was staying at in Tunxi. I ordered a coffee and looked at the food menu, but it was a bit too pricey. After doing quite a bit of walking, I was happy to relax with my book for a while. It would have been nice to stay a bit longer, but the building suffered from the problem that many buildings in this part of China do in that it is so cold inside, it is warmer to be outside. I headed over to the visitor centre to enquire about the buses back to Tunxi. There is a counter in the visitor centre that sells bus tickets and I was able to get one for th bus leaving in about 40 minutes or so. There are quite a few tables and chairs in the visitor centre and I was able to chill there, while waiting for the bus. The ticket seller also called out when the buses were due so that people could make their way outside to wait for the bus to arrive. I really liked both Hongcun and Xidi. This is such a gorgeous area, which isn't too well known with non Chinese tourists and coming at this time of the year and during the week was perfect as it wasn't crowded. If I had to pick which village I preferred I would have to go with Xidi. I think it because it is a bit smaller than Hongcun, it is quieter (or maybe I just got lucky). It would be a great place to escape the world for a bit and I would love to stay there overnight to wander the streets after the tourist hordes have left. Maybe one day... I would also like to return to visit more of the ancient villages that dot the province.

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