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Villages near Hangzhou become new tourism hotspot


08-22-2016 13:08 BJT

Full coverage: G20 Hangzhou Summit

Villages near Hangzhou are becoming new tourism hotspots. During weekends, many people travel to these rural towns. Our reporter Xing Zheming visited Tonglu County, just a one-hour drive from downtown Hangzhou to see why people are flocking there.

For tourists from Hangzhou, these selfies taken with the beautiful lotus flowers will surely get loads of “thumb-ups” in their Wechat moment, China’s top social network.

A lot of my friends and I drive here and stay for the whole weekend. We take photos of the beautiful scenery, drink tea, eat local food and stay in local bed-and-breakfasts. It is a way to get rid of all of the pressure that builds up during the week.

These lotus flowers are attracting more tourists. This benefits local villagers. You know just 4 years ago, villagers in Huanxi could only earn a living by farming or looking for jobs in big cities. Now they’ve returned to the village and make a lot more money by managing homestay hotels.

"We now have over 50 families managing over 700 beds. Over the weekend, these family hotels are crowded with tourists. You can hardly find a bed to stay in. Most families can now earn 50-to-60 thousand yuan a year, some can earn over 100 thousand yuan. There are even families that can earn almost 400-thousand yuan each year," Huaxi Village head Zhou Zhonglian said.

The village head tells me the big change came in 2010 when the villagers introduced an ecological wetland system, that purifies the region's sewage water.

In most Chinese villages, household waste water flows directly into local rivers, without ever being properly processed.

Villagers in Huanxi have also turned more than 80 acres of rice paddy's into lotus fields.

Why lotus? Because most of the villagers are the descendants of a famous Chinese philosopher, Zhou Dunyi, whose famous lotus flower article has been included in Chinese text books for decades.

The villagers hope they can take advantage of their heritage to attract more tourists. And they are making full use of what the lotus flower has to offer. They use the lotus seeds to make baijiu -- a special Chinese liquor. The drink has become a local specialty.

"Many tourists like these spirits a lot, and make online orders after they return home," Owner of Erniang Winery Li Erniang said.

For tourists like me, isn’t it a very pleasant thing to get a sip of these fine drinks while enjoying the local feast?

For a small village like Huanxi, what remains unchanged is the beautiful landscape and its rich cultural heritage. But the changing mindsets of the villagers have altered their daily lives.

A great place to visit, if you find yourself near Hangzhou.

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