We had an incredible trip to China this August! Having been invited by friends from Beijing to show us around the country, the four of us traveled from North to South to see some of the most beautiful places in China. It was so exotic, vibrant and different from all the other places we’ve been to before, that I can’t wait to go there again!Â I drew this map of our journey to remind me of it. Click to enlarge it.
I loved it there so much, that I couldn’t even choose a favorite experience, but one of the highlights of the trip was in Huangshan, where we were guests of a film producer Zhang ZhenYan, who has worked on such films as the House of Flying Daggers and Hero, at his boutique Xiuli Village resort, which originally started out as a movie set for either the Curse of the Golden Flower or Hero, I can’t recall exactly, but has since evolved into his private conservatory project of cultural heritage.
Set in a lush valley at the foot of green mountains in the southern Anhui provice, the village was assembled from parts of authentic 400 year old Chinese buildings that were rescued from disrepair and brought there to be preserved and reassembled into new structures, creating interiors in a unique fusion of ancient Chinese and contemporary architecture, all set inside seemingly ancient buildings.
As parts of the village are still under construction, with the exception of some staff, the place was empty. Alone, we wondered through a disorienting maze of narrow streets, bridges, ponds, great halls and tiny rooms, as if walking through a dream filled with humid summer heat and an incessant singing of a million Cicadas all around us. Insulated from the world in the quiet country side, staying there felt surreal and kind of magical, like being inside of a painting or a movie.
It struck me as very sentimental that Mr. Zhang was using his knowledge of film set production to bring his fantasy to life and build his imaginary place in a real world for people to visit. It’ll be a lovely place to stay at once it’s finished. I’m grateful for Mr.Zhang’s hospitality and for allowing us to see his work in progress.
Although our first tour of China wasn’t really that grand in terms of the distance we covered relative to the size of the country, it was truly grand in terms of the experience it gave us. Gongli and Lily, thank you for being our guides on this unforgettable journey!