Friday, April 10, 2009


...Ming Village

The kids are on holiday this week and since it’s the last few days that Jeff will spend with them before leaving for Paris and London for 2 months, we’ve decided to stay put in Beijing in order to revisit old favorites and explore new sites that we’ve managed to forget for the last 3 years.

I’ve been talking about this preserved Ming village less than 100 km from Beijing since I first read about it when we arrived in Beijing almost 3 years ago. My patience was finally rewarded by a trip this week!

Cuandixia (爨底下) has a history of about 400 years and preserves more than 70 courtyards which were built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and sit one by one following the terrain of the slopes in a valley.

Until now, only the Han family lived here. It is said that the ancestors of the village migrated from Shanxi Province during the Yongle period of the Ming Dynasty. The character 'cuan' has the meaning of a stove and the villagers named it 'cuandixia' with the implication being, of a shelter to keep away the severe cold as well as the scourge of war. Centuries ago, Cuandixia was a bustling community, with farmers sending their best goats and produce to feed the imperial family at the Forbidden City in Beijing.

When just a few short years ago, most Beijingers had never heard of Cuandixia, today visitors are wandering throughout this hillside village of homes that are 500 years old and residents are turning their kitchens into restaurants and their bedrooms into accommodation for visitors who want to sample a slice of country life.

So quiet, So peaceful