Cuandixia is an ancient village that time forgot.
Bored for making myself a prisoner this week due to my dry cough, I set out on a day trip outside Beijing. Together with a bicultural gay male couple, we hired a taxi from Pingguoyuan subway to the ancient village of Cuandixia. After haggling so hard, we successfully got the price we wanted: RMB 160, from the original quoted price of RMB 400. That’s roundtrip. We felt proud of this achievement. 🙂
As soon as we were outside Beijing’s vicinity, the countryside view is a refreshing relief from the hustling and bustling city that is notorious for polluted air.
We passed along dry riverbanks and majestic cordilleras that are absolutely green and stunning to view at. The curvy and narrow highway was quiet dangerous but when you look down at the scenery, the fear subsides. The rock formations were amazingly placed by the Big Boss that some of them look like spires of a Gothic-styled churches and towers. They stood there since Gonwanaland.
Though the blue sky was nowhere, it is a new way to appreciate the earth’s elevated land mass bathed in fogs. The thin silhouettes of cordilleras look like a different world on its own. You really can’t believe it’s just outside Beijing. Poor city souls who have never discovered this cyclorama of a landscape that is waiting to be re-discovered.
Touted as an old Chinese village with rich history, Cuandixia is an ancient berth built by a single family and extended families living in 79 traditional Chinese courtyard houses. It was built in Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). It’s amazing how it stood up against harsh weathers in the past 600 years.
Of these courtyards, most of them are open for tourists and some, as expected, are converted into small restaurants and souvenir shops. Few newly-built courtyards offer a bed for a night stay if you want to feel and experience rural living. Pray, that at night, while you are laying down in a bush, there are stars to light up the night sky. It would be a perfect setting to dream of anything!
While walking along narrow alleyways, touch the stone bricks and walls and feel its ancientness. In some lonely alleys, you breath the past and smell it, too. Imagine, you were one of those comrades who walked these paths in your past life. It’s like revisiting an old and familiar trail albeit in a different time.
Be curious about the past. Take a peek at every windows and enter doors open to visitors. Touch old furnitures, woods, jars, sticks and everything that is inside, if permitted. Some houses are restyled into small, dusty museums.
Follow the threadlike footpaths until they lead you up to the highest elevation where you can see the sweeping bird’s eye view of the whole village. Stay there for minutes and take in the fresh air that you were deprived of living in the city hellhole.
Delight yourself in the nature’s way of saying, “See, I’m more fabulous than you are!” Don’t envy her.
Look out to the lush green mountains, the flowers you’ve never seen before, and dare yourself to stand near the cliff to find out how brave you are or can be.
If you’re into religious stuff, there’s a temple nearby. Pray that your wishes for good men to come to your life be granted.
My visit to this place today is a respite from the city’s drudgery and from the four-walled classroom. Tourist cars are beginning to jostle the place and soon, I surmise, Cuandixia will lose it’s ancient touch in months to come.
Sooner than I imagine.