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Tea Trees and Folklore for a Weekend Trip 2018-11-16
The Spring Festival saw masses of tourists flock to scenic spots across the country, making a sightseeing trip too stressful for many families. Now that the holidays are over, sights promise to be quieter again, and weekend trips to nearby getaways are ideal for families.

Shanghai Daily picked two scenic places close enough for a short weekend holiday featuring fresh air, tea picking and a stroll through bamboo forests.

E’shan Town 莪山镇

E’shan Town in Hangzhou’s Tonglu County is home to thousands of ethnic She people. Since late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) when the town was established, they have retained their distinguished ethnic culture and folklore.

Today, the unique town allures endless streams of tourists who want to explore the minority, especially when they put on their unique festivals. The third day of every lunar March is a big day of worshipping ancestors among the She. During that day, they cook colorful rice dyed with herbal juice.

During Spring Festival, they cook sweet glutinous rice dumplings, visit neighbors, sing their ethnic songs and worship their gods to pray for happiness and good fortune.

The She ethnic minority people prepare wines for the guests.

The She are also highly skilled at bamboo strip weaving and embroidery. Girls begin to learn knitting and braiding at a young age, and their techniques decide future popularity in their community.

Most of their sophisticated, colorful costumes were hand made, and recently, the woven apparel, artifacts and knickknacks are becoming popular with visitors who appreciate the exquisite craftsmanship.

The bamboo strip weaving tradition relies on the abundance of bamboo that grows on the rolling mountains that surround the town.

In family-run guesthouses, tourists will find a basic but friendly accommodation, and authentic She food and delicacy including local poultry and wild herbs will be offered. For tourists, E’shan is a great weekend getaway that offers a glimpse into folk life and some much-needed fresh air.

The picturesque E’shan not only attracts visitors, but is also alluring to cultural and creative industry insiders to invest there. Yunxi, the library brand from Nanjing of Jiangsu Province, opened a branch last year. The library was designed as part of the local environment and structures and features the local architecture style.

Yunxi Library

As a combination of a library and a cafe, it aims to display China’s countryside life, photography and folk culture. Profits are donated to impoverished students in the area.

How to get there: Hangzhou-Xin’anjiang-Jingdezhen Expressway — Tonglu exit

Songyang County 松阳县

Due to its undulating mountains and high altitude, Songyang County in southwestern Zhejiang Province is mantled in mist for nearly four months per year.

One of the county’s attractions is its vast area of tea trees. According to statistics, the county boasts an area of more than 1,150 hectares of tea. The core area has been developed into the Damu Mountain Tea Tree Garden, where people can ride bicycles.

The bike path is currently a little over 8 kilometers long, flanked by varied tea trees, with viewing platforms, porches and tourist service centers. In addition to shuttling through the fields, people can also pick tea leaves that can later be prepared into a fresh cup of tea while they look over the pastoral scenery.

Another popular attraction in the county is Huang Mansion. Compared with other traditional Chinese houses with up-turned eaves, painted beams and craved rafters, it distinguishes itself by unparalleled woodcarving — all of the pillars were engraved with the Chinese character 寿, which literally means longevity. Windows, gates, ceilings, tables and chairs are all carved with sophisticated patterns.

Three generations of the Huang family lived there during late Ming (1368-1644) and early Qing dynasties. It took them 60 years to complete construction. Today, the mansion is considered a palace of traditional Chinese woodcarving culture.

In addition to the mansion, Songyang also boasts two noted villages. The layout of the first one, Shanxiayang Village, was designed according to the yin-yang and the eight diagrams theory. Dozens of narrow lanes crisscross here, turning the village into a maze in which strangers easily get lost without a map.

Shanxiayang Village features dozens of narrow lanes.

The location of the village is considered a fengshui treasure land, with a pond divided by a causeway at its center. A nearby well is said to have never dried out since it was dug 300 years ago.

The second village is Yangjiatang Village. It used to be secluded, but quickly became popular when it was listed among China’s top 10 most beautiful villages in 2013.

The lush vegetation and yellow earth-piled houses attract shutterbugs and painters every day. However, tourism hasn’t changed the locals’ tranquil life. On the contrary, they still retain their simple and plain life and make a living on agriculture.

How to get there: Hangzhou-Xin’anjiang-Jingdezhen Expressway — Jinhua-Lishui-Wenzhou Expressway — Songyang exit

Source: HiCenter
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