After having spent the weekend in the Yellow Mountains, we decided to go to Hongcun, a typical traditional Chinese village which still reflects the ancient way of life. During the 45-minute taxi ride from Tangkou to Hongcun (100 RMB), we were reading some blogs and articles about the village which got us a little demotivated. One blog post, in particular, written by a Chinese guy, was relatively negative about the fact that the village was ruined by tourism. And sure, everything has its supporters and opponents, but if a Chinese person already starts complaining about tourism, you know things got serious. On top of that, we knew we had to pay 104 RMB each to enter the picturesque village which, after having spent already quite a lot during the weekend, seemed like a huge amount of money. Luckily, students apparently pay half the price and once we entered Hongcun, we were immediately stunned by the beauty of it. I’m a sucker for symmetry, so, of course, I was delighted to see this perfect harmony Hongcun has to offer.
Interestingly, when we entered a restaurant with a view of the pond and the famous bridge, we were faced with a rather hostile attitude towards us. This nice place, while many Chinese people were eating there, apparently did not have any food for us. After just sitting there for a while, they eventually brought a menu and we could finally order something. On the one hand, we can’t blame them. They live a simple and quiet existence in this picturesque village and maybe they just don’t like the fact that tourism is having too much of an impact on their rustic way of life. And, while Hongcun already welcomes many Chinese visitors, this place is not yet well known among foreigners who, by the way, until recently required a permit to visit Hongcun. I mean, I would also be annoyed if my hometown would be overflowing with tourists. Oh, wait. That’s already happening.
On the other hand, though, they are well aware of the fact that, since 2000, they are UNESCO World Heritage and thus they like to exploit this to its fullest, which means they want you to pay an entrance fee. On top of that, there are multiple guards stationed at different entries and exits of the village to check your ticket. Very authentic… Also, not everyone was acting so strange when they saw us. Actually, most of the people were really friendly, basically like all Chinese.
I think we were still lucky to have seen Hongcun at this moment. Right now, it’s not that easy to get there by public transport (there are only a handful of buses a day I guess) and there’s still not that much information to find on the internet, but I think that in ten, maybe five years already, this picturesque village will be too touristic. Souvenir shops are slowly making its entrance, modern bars and restaurants are emerging and then there’s the entrance fee…
Either way, Hongcun was definitely worth a visit and it was a nice end to our trip to the Anhui province. We stayed there for about three hours and after that, we went back to Huangshan Railway Station by taxi (160 RMB) to catch our train to Shanghai.