Fenghuang, China, April 2019: According to what one reads, the consensus reached on the age of the town settles at around 400 years old, so yes, its an ancient town without doubt. How much of the place is original, well that’s hard for a non-Chinese tourist to figure out but I’d guess there’s been plenty of restoration and sprucing up for tourist effect. Anyway, lets take a gentle meander around the Phoenix Ancient town and try to immerse ourselves into a little piece of old China.
Perhaps a less conventional way to cross the river here, is to negotiate a series of stepping stones! Quite a famous selfie spot for those brave enough to take the risk. One false move and its all over I should imagine. Yes, it has to be a brave soul to risk life and limb like this, especially in the rain. I wonder how many phones are laying on the river bed?
For those without the nerve to cross on the stepping stones, well, here’s a slightly less precarious method. Thankfully not crowded today, Better not let the kids run around though, those planks could be slippery!
A tourist town with a river inevitably means boat rides. Here in the ancient town tourists can ride up and down the gently flowing river and observe other tourists going in and out of pubs, bars and shops and restaurants. Boats are lined up on the Southern end of Tuojiang River although the price and duration are not easy to discover – maybe time to sharpen up those haggling skills.
Being a popular tourist spot, its of course no surprise that the place is packed with enough shops to satisfy the most ardent of shopaholics. Yet despite the inevitable consequences of mass tourism, the ancient town admirably retains charm and character, at least along the along the river banks, added rain for good measure.
An intriguing feature of the place are a collection of wooden structures with a room or perhaps more accurately, an extension, jutting out over the river, supported on stilts, while the main portion of these are constructed on solid foundations. These are all tourist venues – cafes, bars with live music in the afternoons and the odd hostel for backpackers, accessed from the front street of course. All along the Tuojiang river there are features and relics (not just local old-timers) to observe including the towns old pagoda.
To get an elevated view that so often makes a good photo, one can climb the hills around Fenghuang, accessed by stomping through the back streets. Somehow the place looks quite enchanting from altitude where views along the river reveal just why the place is on the tourist trail.
Next time, a look into the back streets of Phoenix Ancient Town.