Huanglongxi is an ancient town with a history of more than 1,700 years. Situated in Shuangliu County, 40 kilometers southeast from Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China, the town features ancient streets, trees, temples, ferry terminals, houses along its curving alleys, and simple and unsophisticated folk customs that have been passed on for generations.
In the town there are seven ancient streets, which were built during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. They are well-preserved and all paved with stone slabs. The streets are winding rather than being laid out in a geometrical grid format, some of them crossing the river via stone bridges, the whole forming a pleasing unity. The Gulong Temple, the Zhenjiang Temple and the Chaoyin Temple are three ancient temples in the central street.
Walking through the street, you will see many historical civilian residences of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, with tiled roofs ending in flying, or upturned eaves. But with the patina of time upon them, especially the patches of moss here and there that is the local equivalent to ivy on an old European or American university (as in “ivy league university”). It is not by accident that the TV advertising and cinema film industry worldwide, when looking for Chinese houses that are natural period pieces, come to Huanglongxi, which gained the reputation of “China’s Hollywood”.
While traveling along the river, one can have a view of the stilt houses, which fully represent the pile-dwelling culture of Shu people. The Chinese stilt dwellings was typically in three storeys: a semi-open ground storey (‘first floor’, in the U.S.), the first storey (‘second floor’) as the living quarters for humans and attic on the second storey (‘third floor’), for storing foodstuffs for both humans and animals, as well as a place to dry clothes during inclement weather (it also served as a play room for smaller children). Pile dwellings might occasionally come in five storeys, but never in two or four storeys, as having even-numbered storeys was considered bad luck.
Nowadays, Huanglongxi still keeps the profound and honest folk-custom culture of western Sichuan Province. Here you can enjoy the Fire Dragon Dance, a traditional dragon dance but with the added dimension that fireworks are set off at certain key points in time inside the dragon. The town also holds an annual Dragon Boat Dance on the River. On the ninth day of the sixth and ninth month according to the Chinese lunar calendar, temple fairs here recreate the lively scenes of the old days. Another unique thing about Huanglongxi is that it still observes the tradition of night watch. If you are awake and if things are quiet around you, you will hear the sound of the night watch every other hour.
It will be an enjoyment to sip tea in the teahouses of the town, which are scattered on the banks of the rivers. When sitting around the bamboo tables, experiencing the traditional lifestyle of the locals, I’m totally relaxed and feel fabulous.
The town of Huanglongxi is named after the Huanglong River which flows through it. Six ancient trees with histories of more than 800 years cast glamour over the old town. You could take a boat ride or dine at one of the many river view restaurants. And the best travel time is from March to June and from September to December.