Noilly Prattle: China 2017: 18 – Dong Village, Chengyang

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

China 2017: 18 – Dong Village, Chengyang

some blue sky--first time in several days
    We had an early breakfast which was included in the room rate at the hotel. After breakfast we threw a few things into our backpacks for an overnighter to a Dong Village. The Dong is the largest Ethnic Group in the Sanjiang region. They are closely related to the Miao people in our previous stop in Fenghuang. The Dong Village of Chengyang (18km north of Sanjiang) retains much of its traditional charm. It is especially known for the architecture of its a wooden covered bridges. According to the tourist brochures one of the bridges, the Wind-Rain Bridge, in one of the ”four best known bridges in the world”.

on the bus
      There was actually a bit of blue sky and sunshine after many days of gray skies and intermittently rainy weather when we left the hotel and walked to the bus stop in town across the river. The bus is a local bus and there were many people riding going about their daily business. It took about half an hour to reach Chengyang. The tourist information office had a nice surprise for me. I was able to enter the village for free at the senior citizen rate. You don't have to be a Chinese citizen to qualify for the freebie.

green tea leaves and
yellow rape blossoms
bridge framework
      After entering the town the first thing we saw was green fields of tea and yellow rape blossoms and an old wooden bridge in the background. Very picturesque. Although the first bridge is impressive enough, you round a bend and then the Wind-Rain Bridge comes into view. Although we saw several of these covered wooden bridges, the Wind-Rain Bridge is better maintained and in tip-top condition. It is a foot bridge only. Crossing it leads you to the main town. The town is actually composed of several villages connected by foot paths.

the beautiful Wind-Rain Bridge

more "hundreds of steps"
      Helpful locals oriented us in the direction of the Long Feng Hotel we had booked and we were soon checked into a rather rustic and modest room and ready to explore the town. I wanted to get a bird's eye view of the town which nestles in the bed of the river. After a couple of false starts, a man showed us the proper path that leads up to a pavilion at the viewpoint overlooking the town. I knew I would have to climb but didn't realize that we would have to climb "hundreds of steps". It was my second encounter with "hundreds of steps" after the Yellow Dragon Cave in Wulingyuan a couple weeks earlier.

Good Sports and Great Fun
    After half an hour or more of huffing and puffing we finally reached the pavilion. There were several boys apparently having a picnic below the pavilion so we had some fun with them hallooing and peace signing and snapping a few pictures. The boys were good sports and it was great fun! The bird's eye view of the town was worth the climb. 

the Dong Village of Chengyang

Ha, gotcha!
Hi-ho, it's off to work we go . . . 
       The climb down was much easier, but when we got to the bottom the path was blocked by a bunch of guys struggling to carry a large and heavy piece of equipment for a new building. They were pretty ingenious in devising some rigging and slings to maneuver it around a narrow 90 degree angle in the path. Little by little they worked it around and inched it along until the going was freed up. Hernias anyone!

bamboo water wheel brings water up
from the rive to irrigate rice paddies
women tending the tea plants
      We could hear some kind of commotion in the village square off in the distance as we walked the rest of the way down to the river and crossed back into the town. We strolled around exploring and could hear that the ongoing activities were some kind of festival which, of course, lured us towards the music to see what it was all about. As we were sitting around and being accosted by old women selling souvenirs (one actually playfully punched me in the ribs when I said “No, thank you!” too many times), there was a sudden rush of people to line up. Adults and children were lining up to play games for small prizes—mostly ring toss type games. The enthusiasm for these simple games seemed remarkable to behold. Not a smart phone or video game in sight.

young artist

this bridge is also a souvenir shop

Drum Tower Square - people lined up for ring toss type games

and let the games begin ... 
... and continue

the Long Feng Hotel 
cream and sugar?
      Although the Long Feng Hotel is quite unpretentious, largely a hostel, the dinner was unexpectedly delicious. After dark we went out expecting to find the Wind-Rain Bridge and the Drum Tower in the square lit up in colored lights. Unlike many of the beautiful night scenes we had already witnessed, however, Chengyang was a disappointment, the bridge was dark and only the Drum Tower had a bit of lighting to highlight the roof lines.

Drum Tower Square at night

      Returning to Sanjiang and on to Guilin and the well-known karst mountain landscapes along the Li River tomorrow. 

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