Xiaozhou Village in Guangzhou: A Tranquil Allure
With the opening of the 16th Asian Games around the corner, Guangzhou, the host of the games, is drawing an increasing amount of attention from sports fans and tourists around the world. However, besides its well known modernity, the city has much more to offer. Xiaozhou, a tranquil village in Guangzhou's suburbs, for instance, has all the allure of a southern water town.
Constructed by the end of Yuan Dynasty (BC.1026-1368) the architecture in Xiaozhou is typical of Lingnan style with single-arch flying buttresses and carved bricks. The small village unfolds on a vast green field, covered with trees and foliage. Brooks wind through clusters of houses, forming a maze of waterways navigated by picturesque bridges. On the water banks stand rows of time-honored ancestral temples and shrines. Strolling in the narrow flagstone lanes, visitors can actually feel the texture of history.
Among the grey-roofed low rise houses, the ones walled with oyster shells are the most eye-catching. The builders collected the shells from the nearby sea shores. The shells are moth-proof and efficiently drain off rain water. Most of the shell-walled houses have been demolished, but three have survived. Those houses stand as strong today as always, which shows the building skills of the locals.
Besides architecture, cultural traditions are also well kept here. A ceremony worshiping their ancestors is held every year on the Dragon Boat Festival. Families get together and visit relatives, even people working far-away from home return to join the celebration. Every one comes outdoors to watch the dragon boat race, feast the delicious and abundant food, and sing.
On ordinary days, people observe their simple and traditional lifestyle, which is a world away from the hustle and bustle of metropolitan life. This quiet village life has led more than 60 artists to settle down here, including the famous Chinese painter Guan Shanyue and Li Xiongcai. They set up various kinds of workshops, art-themed parks and cafes in Xiaozhou, offering inspirations for fellow artists visiting Xiaozhou.
Now, Xiaozhou has also emerged as an important cultural center in Guangzhou with a constant flow of concerts and exhibitions. Started in 2008, the "Xiaozhou Art Festival" has become a significant artistic event in Guangzhou. The event lasts for one month and is composed of exhibitions and forums on music, painting, sculpture, drama and photography.
The village is within 1 hour's drive from Guangzhou, and 4 bus lines offer convenient service for visitors to go to the village. Local food made of organic materials and fresh fruit, which make up a healthy and delicious diet for tourists and locals alike.