Destinations Magazine

A Place Like... Fenghuang, China!

By Josephharrison1990 @JTAH_1990

There was no doubt that Hunan Province had kept me very busy, like super busy! With that said, it felt correct to be on the road once again. After leaving the kiwi sellers along those hilly paths, we arrived into Fenghuang City with the Ancient Town very much in mind. I had high hopes, those dawn tourist photos had set a high standard, almost too high! I wanted to see it for real! 

A Place Like... Fenghuang, China!

The city of Fenghuang had me scratching my head, I wasn't expecting to see such Realness in front of me, in every direction that was! I had envisaged a 'Lijiang Ancient Town' situation with a similar product on offer but obviously with a Hunan flex present. Dropping my bag at my hotel wasn't a problem, I was unknowingly staying in one of the most affordable properties in the town because those Boujee ancient town guesthouses clearly weren't in my budget. Myself and my guide arrived at one of the gates that led to the ancient town, it was practically heaving and the heat felt like something was on fire! Before I knew it, I was on a boat trip along the Tuo River with the view that I had imagined all along! The morning and early afternoon period had been a lot to deal with but seeing those ancient style buildings along the riverside made every emotion turn into love. Honestly, I captured my own version of Hunan's Phoenix Ancient Town without those airbrushed snaps present in my mind. I saw those Instagram worthy residences! Not fair! 

I wanted to catch a view of those typical 'Miao' buildings from one of the bridges, finding a secret stairwell allowed me to capture my own Birdseye view of that desired mood. People were doing the most, many if not all of the female visitors had dressed up in a traditional Miao dress. My tour guide went on to inform me that the businesses within the ancient town had seen a gap in the market. Those business people had realised the capital that could be made from those traditional garments, they were cleverly renting out the costumes for a pretty penny with a ostentatious photo-shoot to rival. It was undeniable that those riverside views were another reason why Fenghuang had become and remains such a 'honey pot' tourist destination. I for one loved those elevated views because I didn't need to wade through summer crowds, sometimes we have to suffer for our art. I felt blessed to have reached Phoenix Ancient Town. I wanted to see the sights and get some rest, I was feeling a little hungover. Of course, I powered through! 

A Place Like... Fenghuang, China!

Fabulous enough, it was free to access most of the ancient town, that explained the crowds but we all wanted to see something amazing! Period! I loved the winding alley ways, it was like a sport to take an uninterrupted photo because of the constant flow of visitors, I had to get a grip! I was fine and I still remain happy with the photos that I took during that August afternoon. I had never imagined that everyday people would live inside the ancient town, I had previously thought like 'Lijiang' it was all about tourists and the businesses that served such visitors. It was interesting to see the many different exhibits, the ancient town had been home to many people over the years. It was great to see the many artifacts that allowed me to catch a glimpse of the past, albeit most of the artifacts not strictly being original. Living and letting that sense of fabrication carry on with itself, I knew that my visit to Fenghuang Ancient Town would be brief. I'd thought about going for a drink that night, to soak in the views but not after I saw the prices!

Moving on further, it was a pleasure to experience another place in China's Hunan Province, I had to pinch myself! One thing I did love about the ancient town in Fenghuang was that wooden roofs served 'Ancient China', I counted my blessings. Keeping it moving, it was an experience seeing all of the different rooms around the ancient town because some had me perplexed. I did see actual residents within the ancient town, calling that tourist trap their own home. It had me thinking how they blocked out the craziness? I don't think I would be able to cope with people walking past my front with such unfiltered curiosity, no way! I was able to find three courtyards that impressed, they were quiet and the buildings looked as if they were in-fact original. I was definitely in my feelings because it was boiling but as the sun calmed down, I was able to appreciate the stories behind the ancient town. I was about to be fully captivated by the life and contribution of a very famous Chinese writer, I just didn't know it yet. Fenghuang knew it all!  

A Place Like... Fenghuang, China!

Full disclosure, I was not expecting to see an exhibit that resonated with me to the level that it did. I had almost had enough of the heat, of the crowds and of myself but one thing had saved itself for last. 'Sheng Cong Wen' opened my eyes, a former writer and respected figure in China during a very important time was about to teach me something special. Growing up in Fenghuang County within the same area as 'Phoenix Ancient Town', writing was always on Sheng's mind. I went to learn that Sheng Cong Wen became one of China's most influential writers, born into a mixed Han and Miao/Tujia family saw certain riches disappear almost overnight. With his father in hiding, Sheng was forced to join the army with most of the land owned by the family already sold off. Before Sheng found himself in the army, his schooling had been modest with time spent studying in Japan. Literature seemed to be at the forefront of Sheng's mind, it would eventually find him. I was about see something that I was going to love! 

Oh, it had to be Sheng's own former writing table! To some it may well look like a tired and worn piece of wood, for me as a budding blogger that table told each visitor that Sheng's passion for writing was his life. I might not be a qualified travel journalist but I publish my own material from my own perspective with a captive audience, regardless. That piece of Fenghuang's history made the chaos of the day worth it and then some, I felt that it was right for me leave Phoenix Ancient Town at that moment. It had been an amazing experience, definitely some of those online photos had created a different view in my mind, it was all good. Heading back to the hotel, I decided to stock up for the night ahead. I had enough goodies for the whole night, making my entertainment an evening watching Drag Race from around the world. The day had been long, the day had been a lot, I was ready for the beaches of China's Hainan Island! Breakfast in Fenghuang the next day was something else, I was not prepared! Changsha called!  

A Frenzy In Fenghuang! 

Desperately Seeking Adventure

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog