Updated: 2015-05-23 06:59
By Wang Kaihao In Longshan County, Hunan Province(China Daily)
Ancient town of Liye remains away from urban disturbance.[Photo by Wang Kaihao/China Daily]
It's a part of the country usually overrun with tourists, but Wang Kaihao discovers a quiet corner of Longshan county and is quite taken with its many charms
After sunset, the ancient town of the Tujia ethnic group falls into complete darkness and total quiet.
No entry tickets, no flocks of tourists. Unusually, Liye has no karaoke venues, bars or nightclubs - all ubiquitous in ancient towns throughout China.
Most people visiting Xiangxi (an area in the west of Hunan province) swarm to Fenghuang, a nearby old town famous for being the birthplace of Chinese writer Shen Congwen. But we are lucky enough to have a different and more intimate experience of traveling in Longshan county.
After being woken by the twitter of birds and crowing of roosters, we begin our day in Liye jogging beside the picturesque Youshui River. The clean air is a surprising luxury for those of us used to checking the pollution report before participating in any outdoor sports.
Like other rural places throughout China, many locals from Liye leave the town to look for jobs in big cities. Life in the town remains relaxed. Older people gather to chat or play cards under the eaves. Some carry babies in baskets and hurry to nearby markets. We are outsiders threading the well-preserved old streets surrounded by rocky walls and traditional two-story wooden houses.
Most of the houses were shops in the old days. The upper floors were used for storage. Though they are far removed from the hustle and bustle, the houses hint at the prosperous past of Liye, which was once the most important trading port in the west of Hunan.
Different architectural styles in southern China can be found: from Anhui, Jiangxi, and Sichuan provinces. There is even a Western style villa in the complex. It is rumored to be the property of a merchant who has a major business in Shanghai. The closed doors leave much room for imagination.
Liye means "to explore" in Tujia language.
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