Diaowo Vil­lage, Farm­yard At­trac­tion

Beijing (English) - - CONTENTS - Trans­lated by Xu Qing­tong, pol­ished by Mark Zuiderveld, pho­tos by Hu Shengli

The vil­lage, pre­vi­ously im­pov­er­ished and poorly equipped, has de­vel­oped into “The First Valley for Art in East­ern Bei­jing,” with beau­ti­ful scenery and a sim­ple life­style.

All the way from down­town Pinggu east to the East­ern Bei­jing's Great Sta­latite Cav­ern then to the north, you may sink into a pic­turesque scene, with soar­ing moun­tains, rip­pling rivers and trees cast­ing shade, oc­ca­sion­ally tinted by a yel­low­ish red of a torch tree. The Huang­songyu Reser­voir, where reflections of the tow­er­ing Shilin Valley teases the tran­quil blue wa­ter, with the back­drop of the moun­tains and trees, is worth look­ing at. Here lies Diaowo Vil­lage of Huang­songyu Town­ship.

Diaowo Vil­lage came into a mea­gre ex­is­tence dur­ing the Qing Dy­nasty (1644– 1911) and got its name “Diaowo (ea­gle nest)” from the le­gend that ea­gles used to live in caves nearby. Lean­ing against a river on one side and sur­rounded by moun­tains on the other three sides, cling­ing to Hudong­shui and Shilin Valley, the two well-known tourist spots, the vil­lage has a unique ge­og­ra­phy. With ex­cit­ing scenery and a sim­ple life­style, the vil­lage has be­come an ex­cit­ing des­ti­na­tion for those go­ing on va­ca­tion.

Stand­ing at the en­trance to the vil­lage and look across into the dis­tance, and you may catch Shilin Valley's moun­tains stretch­ing end­lessly, a breath­tak­ing view that ex­tends in its steep el­e­gance.

Not very large as it is, the vil­lage is a hub that gath­ers moun­tains, rivers, scenery, and de­li­cious food.

Folk yards, each in its own style, line the roads, all dec­o­rated by red lanterns, coloured flags and ears of corn. It was har­vest time when vil­lagers flooded the road­side with newly reaped wal­nut, ju­jube, chestnut, red fruit and wild mush­room, a colour­ful dis­play of a bumper har­vest.

The most eye-catch­ing were caul­drons with in­stalled chim­neys above them. Sev­eral ad­ver­tise­ments dot the caul­drons which read “steamed chicken with pump­kin, stewed fish pot with pan­cakes, steamed fish with fer­mented soya beans, roasted lamb legs, and braised beef,” all ru­ral treats and easy to spot.

Diaowo Vil­lage ac­com­mo­dates over one hun­dred peo­ple, 57 house­holds, each of which runs folk tourism busi­ness. From door to door, their farm yards are hos­pitably open to wel­come tourists. How­ever, their ser­vices are not du­pli­cate and dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion is seen ev­ery­where: a typ­i­cal pas­toral scene with a small veg­etable gar­den, ta­bles and chairs be­side it and a large pot be­ing heated by fire­wood; a bar or Western restau­rant with Euro­pean win­dows and low fences; a wooden build­ing with a court­yard, a fish­pond with gold­fish and lo­tus. The vil­lage is filled with var­i­ous farm­yards rem­i­nis­cent of San­l­i­tun in Bei­jing.

Fu Zhong­gang, the Vil­lage Party Sec­re­tary, told us that over 10 years ago, Diaowo Vil­lage was im­pov­er­ished, poorly equipped, and strug­gling amid a filthy en­vi­ron­ment. In 2002, it be­gan to ex­plore po­ten­tial in its tourism based on its ge­o­graph­i­cal edge. The en­vi­ron­ment was soon re­done, houses were re­paired, folk tourism launched, and veg­etable-and-fruit-pick­ing busi­ness was de­vel­oped. A batch of lo­cal food brand names were cre­ated, in­clud­ing “Diaowo Roasted Lamb Leg,” fruits like wal­nut, per­sim­mons, red fruit, wild kiwi and wild rasp­ber­ries, as well as wind­flower, a lo­cal com­mod­ity that has its own pro­duc­tion base. As of now, tourism has be­come Diaowo Vil­lage's pil­lar in­dus­try. Over 200,000 tourists are re­ceived ev­ery year, bring­ing in over an an­nual rev­enue of 5 mil­lion yuan. The per capita net in­come of the whole vil­lage has risen to over 30,000 yuan from a lit­tle more than 2,000 yuan 10 years ago.

A two-storey build­ing named “Lao­hao Farm Yard,” which ac­com­mo­dates a yard, flaming red lanterns hang­ing on the roof and a large pot heated by fire­wood, has lamb hoofs mixed in a stew. Puz­zling were red lanterns and coloured flags with Chi­nese char­ac­ters Lao Hao Le, mean­ing “very good.” The host­ess Wang Shuyi grins, ex­plain­ing that the Chi­nese char­ac­ter hao, mean­ing “good,” is pro­nounced the same way as her hus­band's fam­ily name “Hao.” When guests say Lao Hao Le, it could also re­fer to Hao's fam­ily, bring­ing them closer to­gether. The yard fea­tures north­east­ern Chi­nese cui­sine, the most pop­u­lar and iconic dishes be­ing roasted lamb leg and fish stew that uses fish from Huang­songyu Reser­voir. Cov­er­ing 600 square me­tres, this farm­yard pro­vides food and ac­com­mo­da­tion ser­vices and its an­nual rev­enue reaches up to one mil­lion yuan.

Close to Lao­hao Farm Yard is an­other named “Yi­hua Court­yard,” with its plaque seen on the lobby wall through loft win­dows. Cui Yi, the host, told us with pride, “The name was given and writ­ten by Wang Meng, a fa­mous Chi­nese writer.” Ac­cord­ing to him, Wang sent them an in­scrip­tion as a gift be­cause he liked his wife's name, Zhang Xi­uhua. “He is easy­go­ing and very mod­est,” Cui Yi said.

It turned out that early on, Diaowo Vil­lage's scenery, fresh air and sim­ple life­style had at­tracted cul­tural celebri­ties to set­tle down. Wang Meng, for­mer Min­is­ter of Cul­ture and fa­mous writer, was the first to buy a house in the vil­lage nes­tled in the so-called “ten­mile gallery.” Strolling through the moun­tains, rel­ish­ing ev­ery sip of pure moun­tain spring wa­ter and ev­ery breath of fresh air, he lived as he cre­ated. Even a poem ded­i­cated to the vil­lage was writ­ten by Wang Meng.

Sev­eral other celebri­ties also fol­lowed in Wang Meng's foot­steps, among whom were fa­mous print artist Ye You­liang, writer Hao Ran and land­scape painter Chen Key­ong, who set­tled down in Diaowo Vil­lage, built art gal­leries, pro­duced art­work and ex­pe­ri­enced ru­ral life. To­day, Diaowo Vil­lage owns seven art gal­leries and re­ceives over 3,000 celebri­ties ev­ery year, en­dow­ing it with an­other ti­tle—“The First Valley for Art in East­ern Bei­jing.”

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