Where bean curd and beauty con­spire to con­jure al­lure

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - TRAVEL | LIFE - By ERIK NILS­SON in Guilin

Ter­rific tofu and serene scenery are mu­tu­ally re­in­forc­ing ap­peals that pro­pel an ap­petite for Lu­jia vil­lage as an eco­tourism des­ti­na­tion.

Both largely flow from the Tao­hua River.

Its wa­ter be­stows the set­tle­ment of about a hun­dred house­holds in the Guangxi Zhuang au­tonomous re­gion’s Yang­shuo county with lovely land­scapes and boun­ti­ful bean curd.

The pol­lu­tion-free pro­duc­tion of the hand­made food­stuff en­sures the wa­ter­way’s pu­rity, which, in turn, guar­an­tees the curd’s qual­ity.

And the brook but­tresses the ap­peal sired by the area’s ge­ol­ogy.

It’s be­lieved the wa­ter makes the tofu tasty and con­trib­utes to the res­i­dents’ ab­nor­mal longevity. Lore holds wash­ing your face with it en­hances your looks.

It also sup­ports a healthy ecosys­tem beyond the hu­man di­men­sion.

Many of the eth­nic Han and Hui vil­lagers run shops, stands and restau­rants that sell over 100 snacks and dishes crafted from tofu.

The two most pop­u­lar in­car­na­tions are re­spec­tively sweet and runny, or salty and deep-fried.

The soggy, sac­cha­rine kind is piled with sugar.

The sa­vory va­ri­ety is sprin­kled with peanuts and chili pep­pers, and driz­zled in soy sauce. It’s typ­i­cally washed down with tart wild-grape wine pro­duced in the area.

Vis­i­tors can watch fam­i­lies — mul­ti­ple gen­er­a­tions, that is — process soy­beans by hand in their court­yards on their way to the tofu ex­hi­bi­tion hall.

Trav­el­ers en­ter Lu­jia via a cov­ered bridge that runs over the Tao­hua River. They’re greeted by lion dances upon ar­rival.

A wind-and-rain bridge in Lu­jia vil­lage in Yang­shuo. Lu­jia vil­lage.

About this se­ries

The 300-year-old set­tle­ment stands in the shadow of the Wudiyan Moun­tain and is less than a kilo­me­ter from the fa­mous Reed Flute Cave.

Its land­scape en­ticed the pro­duc­ers of an old Jour­ney to the West TV se­ries to film scenes here.

But the Lu­jia’s ap­peal ex­tends beyond its out­ly­ing ter­rain to its down­town’s lay­out.

It’s as if a gar­den re­plete with flow­ers, bon­sai and veg­etable plots was poured in the spa­ces be­tween houses built ac­cord­ing to tra­di­tional style, with white walls and black shin­gles that plate swoop­ing eves.

Bam­boo spurts from thick­ets along flag­stone streets, while vine clus­ters clasp any struc­ture they can. Ponds bob with lilies and lo­tuses.

The lo­cal square fea­tures over 100 stone in­scrip­tions that ref­er­ence longevity.

And nearly 100 heads of state, in­clud­ing former US pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton, have vis­ited the ham­let, which is hailed among “Guilin’s eight top attractions”.

That’s not to men­tion a mil­lion or­di­nary trav­el­ers who ar­rive an­nu­ally.

The Yipin Tofu stand proudly dis­plays pho­tos of former Afghan pres­i­dent Hamid Karzai sam­pling its fare dur­ing his visit.

The vil­lage chief says fu­ture plans in­clude de­vis­ing del­i­ca­cies beyond tofu while also in­vent­ing more bean-curd dishes.

This, au­thor­i­ties hope, plus green land­scapes, may prove a new recipe for suc­cess for Guilin’s “tofu vil­lage”.

China Daily ex­plores the coun­try’s shades of green in this se­ries.

PHO­TOS BY ZHAN WEIKE / CHINA DAILY

Left:

Right: A sculp­ture show­cases the process of mak­ing tofu in

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