I’m a fan of Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee’s movies.
Back in the 80’s my dad was so into watching these Chinese martial arts movies. He would buy Betamax tapes so he can watch at night after dinner. Though the movie was in Chinese and at that time movies didn’t have English subtitles yet, I would still watch with him not because of the fighting scenes but because I saw different views that interested me; how they eat so fast with a chopstick, their costumes and old big houses. Then recently, I had an opportunity to go to China and see these in real life.
Along with other Climate Champions and representatives from Earthwatch, a coaster took us from our hotel in Gutianshan Zhejiang to Wuyuan City. Lush mountains, agricultural fields, and hard-working Chinese men and women attending to their lands were some of the views you’ll see along the way. Wuyuan is located at the northeast of Jiangxi Province. Based from some research I had, 81.5% of Wuyuan is covered with trees. Wuyuan was listed in one of the sixteen most ecologically advanced provinces in China. There are many well preserved ancient villages here like Jiangwanm Wangkou, Yan, Sixi and Likeng.
After a two-hour ride, our group arrived at the entrance of Likeng Village. The entrance was peopled with mostly local tourists, some Koreans and a number of Caucasians. Likeng Village, they said was set up at the end of the North Song Dynasty. There was a long gauntlet of tourist stalls that you have to walk through from the entrance to the village itself. Ancient buildings with white washed walls, black tiles, and upturned eaves were seen left and right. There were narrow pathways built around several creeks that intersect. There were Buddhist temples, traditional homes, tea houses and restaurants.
While sipping my tea at the roof top of Guanming Teahouse and Restaurant, I watched the people on the streets between old Chinese houses and stream, I felt I was in a movie where suddenly a group of mafias would come with their masters and fight to know who has the best martial arts technique. Ü I felt I was simmered in a rich Chinese history and culture.
What to do:
- Take photos – the view of the old houses in between a stream is picturesque
- Ride a raft – they can bring you around the village passing through the streams
- Try different kinds of teas – all tea shops offers free taste of different kinds of tea
- Shop for some souvenir items
Very little English is spoken. I suggest learning basic Mandarin so you can haggle around.
What/where to eat/drink:
There are restaurants inside the village that serve healthy food like fish, vegetables and tofu. We have tried the Guangming Teahouse and Restaurant in the middle of the village. You can view the busy Likeng from their roof deck. You might also want to try drinking sugarcane syrup.
What to buy:
Tourist stalls are lined on the village streets. You can buy fancy umbrellas, wooden combs, hair accessories, key chains, figurines, wood crafts, colorful slippers and shoes, different kinds of teas, rice wine, different kinds of nuts and house decors.
How to get to Wuyuan:
Since I was there for Climate Champions training with Earthwatch, they had arranged everything for us from accommodation to transportation. The directions below I got from Wikitravel might be helpful for your trip to Wuyuan:
“Wuyuan does not have a train station. The nearest city is Jingdezhen, where there are regular buses from the Licun Bus Station to Wuyuan North Bus Station (2 hours). There are also buses from Nanchang, Huangshan,Hangzhou, Quanzhou, Shanghai, and various large cities in the general region. You may get dropped off at Wuyuan’s new north bus station which is bigger and caters for long-distance buses, but you need to get to the old north bus station (taxi roughly ¥10 or try a local bus) for buses to some of the villages (especially the eastern villages).
If you come from Shangrao (Jiangxi) there are buses from the bus station that will take you to Wuyuan west bus station(3.5hrs, ¥54).
You can also reach Wu Yuan from San Qing Shan (from Shangrao) using local transportation and guides. These methods of travel might be more expensive but the thrifty traveler can also hitch a ride on buses that pass through places like Gin Shan (a small resort town just below San Qing Shan). A good understanding of the Chinese language is necessary or knowledge of Jiangxi culture if you don’t want to get ripped off.
There are regular buses from the New North Bus Station to Jingdezhen nearly every 45 minutes. There are also buses to Shangrao for good rail links, every hour at least (3.5 hrs, ¥54).
There are two daily buses to Shanghai, at 9:30AM and 6:30PM, they take approximately seven hours and cost ¥175. There is a 9:20AM bus to Hangzhou, it takes approximately five hours and costs ¥103. There are also buses to Nanchang, Huangshan, and other cities in the region.
Do not let your taxi or motorcycle driver help you with accommodation (or follow you after the ride) in the villages, or else the hotel will offer you a higher charge in order to give the driver a certain commission.”