Mos­quito-Free Vil­lage无蚊村

“A for­got­ten place, un­touched by the im­pa­tient life of the big cities…”

That's China - - Contents - Text by / Verena Men­zel

While wan­der­ing on­wards and up­wards to the foot of the bam­boo-for­est, I found that at least one of the prom­ises of this small par­adise would not be kept: the fresh mos­quito bites ap­pear­ing on my skin were itch­ing ter­ri­bly!

Iwas fed up. Fed up with traf­fic jams and crowds of tourists near the West Lake and western style cafes. I needed a time out from crammed boule­vards, crammed su­per­mar­kets and the crammed city of Hangzhou. There seemed to be plenty of mos­qui­toes in my apart­ment again, when I re­ceived an email from a Chi­nese friend. She told me about “Wuwen­cun” - a ro­man­tic vil­lage in the mid­dle of the bam­boo forests of Huzhou dis­trict, north of Hangzhou. One of the ac­cursed punkies in my room was once more zip­ping around my head while I was dig­ging out my Chi­nese dic­tio­nary. “Wuwen­cun” – didn’t that lit­er­ally mean “town with­out mos­qui­toes?” Yes, it did. Beau­ti­ful land­scape, fresh air, bam­boo as far as the eye can see- and no mos­qui­toes? Too good to be true! I de­cided to ver­ify this ti­tle and pre­pared for a trip the fol­low­ing week­end.

Al­though Wuwen­cun re­ally seemed to be in the mid­dle of nowhere and none of my other Chi­nese friends had ever heard of the place, it was not hard to get there. I took the bus from Hangzhou North Bus Sta­tion to the city of Anji. Dur­ing the ninety-minute ride, the whizzing land­scape with its bam­boo-lit­tered hills be­came more and more lovely. From Anji I took one of the lo­cal buses to a place called Zhang­wuzhen, a small vil­lage quite close to my des­ti­na­tion which added an­other fifty-minute ride pass­ing small vil­lages imbed­ded in the bam­boo hills. As there is no bus to Wuwen­cun it­self, one of the lo­cal cabs took me there. “In the sum­mer some Chi­nese tourists come to this place, but the sea­son is al­ready over”, the driver told me, while blow­ing the horn stren­u­ously. We were cut­ting one of the nar­row curves, draw­ing through the bam­boo hills when his driv­ing en­thu­si­asm was cut by a fam­ily of geese slowly cross­ing the street. “For­eign­ers usu­ally never come here,” he went on the say while we waited. Af­ter fif­teen min­utes, we ar­rived in Wuwen­cun.

The sound of a light breeze waft­ing through the bam­boo-crowns was all around when I got out of the car. I left the main street and started to walk up one of the small side paths. This place was re­ally turn­ing out to be what it had sounded like- a ro­man­tic oa­sis hid­den in the bam­boo val­leys. A for­got­ten place, un­touched by the im­pa­tient life of the big cities. Two na­tive women were eat­ing their sup­per hun­grily, while the laun­dry was dry­ing in the light au­tumn sun. They didn’t seem to care about the amazing view over the bam­boo for­est be­hind them- they had prob­a­bly seen it a mil­lion times. They did how­ever, seem to care a lot about the stranger pass­ing by and ob­served me cu­ri­ously. For­eign­ers must re­ally never visit this place.

I saw an old man sit­ting in one of the yards and darn­ing his jacket- a chicken and some other poul­try flit­ting around him. Some steps fur­ther a dog slept be­side the front door on the shady ve­randa, while some grain lay dry­ing in the sun. While wan­der­ing on­wards and up­wards to the foot of the bam­boo-for­est, I found that at least one of the prom­ises of this small par­adise would not be kept: the fresh mos­quito bites ap­pear­ing on my skin were itch­ing ter­ri­bly!

“I can give you some medicine,” a lo­cal farmer called out to me hav­ing seen my dis­as­ter. He in­vited me into his home and didn’t only of­fer me some midge oil, but also a rich cup of self-grown green tea. Drink­ing and scratch­ing, I lis­tened to his tales. He told me about his daugh­ters and his wife who had all moved to Hangzhou for work, about his life in Wuwen­cun as a bam­boo farmer, and that I was the first for­eign guest in his house.

“But why is the place called Wuwen­cun?” I dug fur­ther. He laughed. “Years ago there re­ally were few mos­qui­toes here, but as the weather got warmer, the midges got more and more.” Mos­qui­toes or not- who­ever comes to Wuwen­cun will find that time has stood still. It is a piece of par­adise only a few kilo­me­ters away from Hangzhou, and more beau­ti­ful than I ex­pected. “You have to visit us again next time,” the farmer yelled af­ter me as he waved goodbye. I def­i­nitely will.

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