About 90 kilometers from downtown Beijing, there lies an ancient mountain village, addressed as Cuandixia (爨底下). The village has a history of about 500 years, built during the Ming dynasty and Ching dynasty. I never knew this distinctive character “爨” (pronounce as cuan4) until I did my search for Beijing trip.
Hence, I decided to make a visit there, to see this amazing village surrounded by mountains, stands on the northern gentle slope of the hills, houses built by natural stones and wood. Furthermore, the shape of the village looks like shoe-shaped gold ingot, wow!
The complicated character ‘cuan’ (爨) made up of 30 strokes, meaning fire under the cooking range. It was interesting when I first saw a poster explaining this character.
It was a little bit tricky getting there. It took hours waiting for bus, perhaps I got to the station in a wrong time. I got a Taiwanese friend along with me, we decided to take a private car than wasting our time waiting for bus instead. The journey took about an hour.
The driver dropped us at Yixiantian gorge (一线天), literally means “a thread of sky”, recommended by him. It is a natural mountain, located about 1 kilometer north from the village. The narrow path allows only one car to go through each time. Alright, I kinda love this place!
The village has a winding and rugged lane built from oddly-shaped stones, stretched from east to west. Houses are in good order that featured with stone, wood and brick carvings that reflects ancient Chinese culture.
Temples are commonly seen in China, this little village has no exception. On a small hill there stands a Guan Di Temple (关帝庙). According to the locals, the temple is the most important ritual enlightenment place in the village. Other than that, there are Niangniang Temple (Goddess of Pregnancy).
Apart from touring around the village, we gotta fill up our stomach. Several restaurants serving farm meal could be found here. This shredded potatoes with wild mushroom fulfilled my taste buds.
I saw a kitchen and cooking utensils in another restaurant after our meal. According to one of the customers, the restaurant was serving rabbit meat and other unknown creatures. It makes me feel like throwing up though, I DON’T eat rabbit!
A couple of hours is needed touring around the village in no rush. Slow down my pace, enjoy the scenery, explore the village! Just sit anywhere I want when I need a break!
Oh ya, found this cultural revolution slogan on wall almost everywhere in the village.
The tour is not complete if miss out the bird’s eye view of the village. Got to the viewing platform for a panoramic view of the whole village on the south mountain across from the village. The village really looks like a shoe-shaped gold ingot as said!
How to get there
Address: Cuandixia Village, Zhaitang Town, Mentougou District, Beijing
1. Take subway line no. 1 to Pingguoyuan (苹果园) station, exit A. Walk west for about 200m to get Bus 892 (former 929 支) and get off at the 44th Stop Cuandixia Village (爨底村路口). Note that bus 892 leave at 7:30am and 12:40pm could get to the village directly.
2. Private cars can be found nearby the station, consider this option if you miss the bus (like what I experienced), but only if you have a group of friends due to safety reason.
1. Try to negotiate with the driver if you are taking private car. We paid RMB100/ pax for the return trip including entrance ticket. The price he offered was RMB200/ pax.
2. Avoid visiting the village in weekends and public holidays, you will get a big big crowd!