Out of this world

Updated: 2012-08-09 10:49

By Liu Xiangrui and Yang Jun (China Daily)

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The thoroughfare of the village is a stone-paved path, where more than 90 ancient buildings are scattered on both sides, with the earliest dating back to the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368).

Facing the river and flanked by mountains on three sides, these old buildings are mostly traditional courtyard houses bearing wooden structures, with delicate Bouyei carved patterns all over. Layers of gray roofs form a spectacular patchwork.

The Red Army of Communist Party of China (forerunner of the People's Liberation Army) once stayed here, leaving behind dozens of slogans on the walls - more than 20 of these are still recognizable.

Further upstream, there is an even quieter Bouyei community called Shuitou village. At the village gate, villagers in traditional costumes greet us with home-made wine and invite us to join their traditional bamboo dance.

In Shuitou, we learn from locals about the ancestral method of making tofu and the distillation of rice wine.

We are also treated to fresh soybean milk and glutinous rice cake.

A French-style countryside hotel situated on the slope by the babbling river, Indigo Lodge, is popular especially with foreign tourists. From the design, one can tell that a lot of thought went into the elegant accommodation, which skillfully combines ethnic elements with modern tastes.

There is a cafe in Indigo Lodge, serving simple Chinese and Western food, coffee and wines. Travelers can also sit around to read or surf the Internet.

The hotel, with only nine quaint rooms, is run by a local tour guide. Each year, more than 100 foreign tourist groups make the hotel their home.

We find the main courtyard an ideal place to chill in this valley with its picturesque view - a calm river flowing in front of us, with buffalos grazing in the paddy fields just a short distance away and mountains in the background.

According to the villagers, the area is a sea of yellow as rapeseed flowers bloom in spring and rice field gets ready for harvest in autumn, giving the place the nickname "gold basin".

Before we head out for the nearby Nanjiang Canyon for a gorgeous bonfire party and lodging, we visit the highest point of the "gallery" - a tea plantation of some 333 hectares on top of the Baihua Mountains.

Qinglong River's origin is said to be hidden somewhere in the mountains, often wreathed in mist.

The acidic soil is suitable for producing good quality teas. Experts say that tea produced here is rich in selenium, a trace mineral believed to enhance immunity and slow down the aging process.

Tourists are invited to spend a day as a tea farmer, to experience picking and processing tea leaves themselves.

For us, we feel recharged just by looking out into the beautiful sunset beyond the mountain stretches, while savoring a cup of fresh tea in the old-styled pavilion. If there be paradise on earth, this is it.

Contact the writers at liuxiangrui@chinadaily.com.cn and


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