Guoliang Village – China’s Hideaway

PC/Sunday, 22 September 2013

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Guoliang Village, with 350 strong independent people, is situated in Wanxianshan scenic area, Henan Province. A favourite tourists‘ spot, visitors say there are very beautiful mind boggling views of stunning canyon, landscapes, cliffs & mountain ranges.

For access there is a daring road carved into the side of a cliff, though difficult to reach, it’s well worth the trip.

Hidden away in the Taihang Mountains it’s covered by an amazing transportation system.

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guoliang-village-zhengzhou9Guoliang Village was a tiny Chinese village high in the Taihang Mountains in Henan Province. Nobody heard about it. The only way to reach it was via steps cut on the side of a very steep cliff on which their village was built. They called the stairway their “Sky Ladder.” Perhaps the difficult access and a defensible position kept the little village safe when trouble was brewing in the area. But in 1972, the village elders including Shen Mingxin were determined to build a road. They wanted their village connected to the outside world and for people to be able to reach it other than by laboriously climbing stairs. So in 1972, with hand tools, 13 strong villagers started carving a road down the side of the canyon road. It is a single lane road that is about 12 or 13 feet across and about 15 or 16 feet high. Many tourists see their handiwork as a colossal feat. The road was finished in 5 years, and the result is that the village is famed as a tourist attraction.

The road is amazing considering that it is tunnels and levelled cliff face. The road stretches about a mile. It reminds me of a tunnel an ant colony might dig. They carved arches for their tunnel and levelled sections of cliff face so that tourist buses are able to go up. It isn’t wide enough to be a two lane road, but cars can pass each other slowly. The road was opened in 1977.

Along with seeing the road, tourists like visiting the welcoming little village people. They like hiking up the road because the canyon and the mountaintop area have spectacular scenery. The village itself is unusual because the villagers built it of stone. The walls, chairs, tables and even the bowls and some eating utensils were made of stone. The village probably has an interesting history of survival in a harsh land. The canyon below the village is very narrow and deep. There are coloured rock layers, and you can better see the colours of the layers in the tunnel and along the road cut. There is also a beautiful waterfall.

It is said that to pay for the tools to carve the road, the villagers of Guoliang Village 郭亮村 sacrificed a lot and even sold their animals and other necessities of life. What they probably didn’t realise was that the government would later think that this was a prime tourist attraction in central China. When the borders were opened for foreign travel in the last decade, foreigners started to find it and post pictures about it. Even a few years ago, it was a difficult place for foreigners to find and reach, but now the village is getting famous. Hotels have opened in the village, and bridges and walkways have been built for the tourists so that they can walk around in the area. Foreigners say that the hiking and scenery is excellent and there are lots of stairs to climb around on.

In the summer of 2011, there was a dispute between the villagers and officials about access and payment. Access to the village was restricted to foreigners, but some tourists still got in. So if you are planning a trip there, check the internet for the latest news.

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Getting there is still not easy. Here is an address to show people: 河南新乡市辉县万仙山景区.

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The Village of Guoliang is about 120 kilometres or 75 miles north of the city of Zhengzhou in the Wanxianshan Scenic Area. If you want to go there by train, the nearest train station is at Xinxiang at (新乡) that is about 50 miles southeast of the Wanxianshan Scenic Area. From there, you can take buses to the town of Huixian 辉县. Get off at the Huxian Bus Station, and then take another bus to the Wanxianshan Scenic Area. This leg costs about 6 RMB or 1 USD and takes 30 minutes. From there, there are buses that cost 11 RMB that go the the scenic area. This leg takes about two hours though it is only about 40 miles away because the buses make many stops. The bus lets you off at the scenic area at a place where you can hire another ride or hike the 4 kilometres to Guoliangcun or 2.5 kilometres to another village called Nanping. There is an 80 RMB entrance fee if the park is open. The walk through Guoliang Tunnel is breathtaking, but keep an eye out for motorists. The road is steep in some places.

 

 

Shuanglang – Little Known Secret Paradise

Shuanglang nestling on Erhai

Shuanglang, a Bai Minority town,

across from Dali in Yunnan, nestling on the shore of Erhai Lake, is one of China‘s most laid-back destination.

With poetic scenery and tranquil guesthouses, the small fishing village of Shuanglang has become a favourite escape from urban living for those know.

An idyllic hideaway 

Many of you may know of the tourist-thronging Dali & Lijiang in Southwest China’s Yunnan Province. But few of you may have heard of Shuanglang Village. This is an idyllic place & China’s hidden little treasure which few have come to know.

For over a thousand years, the local Bai Minority people here have made their living fishing in the lake. But the past 10 years have brought in a change to life. The small tranquil village is now popular with visitors looking to unwind and enjoy a slower tempo.

Boating pleasure

Old alleys and traditional architecture made for pleasant wanders. And it’s easy to take a boat out on the lake or just kick back and do very little.

Surrounded by mountains on three sides, Shuanglang village hugs the scenic Erhai lake. The weather here always seems perfect, making it a great retreat anytime of the year. It is also home to some of the most romantic boutique guesthouses in China.

Filming taking place . . .

Baxun, Shuanglang village chief & owner of the first such guesthouses, said,”A guesthouse is not a hotel. It’s much more personal. The decoration varies in different guesthouses. Each and every one of them represents the owner’s unique style.” There are more than 120 guesthouses now, offering much choice for a comfortable stay. Most face the lake and have decks providing breath-taking views.

A tourist said,” I like staying here. It feels like home.” And many really do make this their other home. In fact, many of the guesthouses are opened by the once “outsiders”.

Xiaoyun and her husband, “We wanted to find somewhere peaceful to live,” came to Shuanglang in 2009 from Beijing, and fell in love with the quiet village. The couple later quit their jobs to set up their own guesthouse here. “We had traveled to many places around the country. The air, clouds, people . . . we just love everything here.”

As elsewhere in China, change is coming to Shuanglang. Several new guesthouses have been built in anticipation of future visitors. With the influx of bar, restaurants & people, the mood of the village will no doubt change. Hopefully it will be a few years before this hidden gem becomes a mini-Lijiang.

English: Erhai - Lake of Dali (Yunnan) - North...
English: Erhai – Lake  (Yunnan) – Northern part (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For the present, tranquillity & peace exist. Before long these may not persist!