(reblog from 2015 for archiving) 爨底下-a Ming village in the mountains

First posted on TVG in China, 2015. I’m currently archiving old posts onto one blog.

It would be easy to think that the area around Beijing wouldn’t have beautiful countryside, let alone ancient villages. Hidden away to north of the capital however is just that: a well preserved Ming dynasty village wrapped up by green mountains. 爨底下(cuandixia) is the only ‘ancient’ town that I’ve been to in China that I have actually felt content the claim was true. The buildings have no doubt been repaired since they were built, and many of them are probably Qing rather than Ming, but compared to tourist traps like Lijiang, this small village is wonderful.

We arrived around a mile out from the main village and so walked up the road snaking through the trees and mountains all around us.

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The start of the main village. I believe the section above the wall is the older part of the village, and down at our level were probable Qing dynasty builds.

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The locals were selling sweetcorn cooked in an essentially super-powered barbecue. They seemed to hang the uncooked ones up from this building at the entrance to the village.

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Into the village itself…

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The local policeman seemed to also work at the roast lamb restaurant. Those metal vats had roaring fires going on inside them, and the Lamb smelled amazing. I felt myself wishing that I could catch a smell on a camera.

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I have a thing for Chinese rooftops. They just look fantastic.

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The village also had some beautifully green spots inside it; not just around it.

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and sometimes the greens got in the way slightly – although well done to the owner of this particularly huge veg.

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You can find the Chinese flag everywhere you go, it seems.

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But you can’t find Cultural Revolution slogans everywhere; at 爨底下you can. I didn’t translate this wall at the time, and now I can’t make out the last character, but it reads roughly as ‘use Mao Zedong ideology to arm ourselves’

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And finally some views from up on the hills, looking down at the village and it’s valley.

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A wonderful break from Beijing, and considering that day’s pollution in the city reached 450 (200 is bad), country air was a dream.

And after all, this is a village with an impossible character in it’s name -爨. You’ve got to love it.

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