A ten minute walk away from Huizhou Ancient City (徽州古城), Yuliang Old Village (鱼梁古城) lies along the banks of Lianjiang River overlooking an ancient Tang Dynasty dam. I took a stroll through the narrow streets at dawn and found myself in a world which doesn’t seem to have changed much in the past hundred years.
Crossing a small bridge, smoke was billowing out of charcoal braziers that locals wrapped in thick coats were tending outside their homes. Others were sweeping up dust from the beautiful zig-zag cobbled streets which ran the entire length of the street.
The village was preparing for Chinese New Year, with red banners adorned with calligraphy hung beside every doorway and police ordinances pasted on the walls dictating where people could and couldn’t set off fireworks.
Yuliang Dam (漁梁古壩) was a marvel of engineering when it was built over 1000 years ago. Long granite slabs were interlocked together using intricately chiselled butterfly joints. Here boats loaded with goods departed to be traded across China, beginning Huizhou’s most prosperous period.
Along one wall were lined a series of bird cages with two birds in each other. They were merrily chirping to each other, basking in the warmth of the early morning sunshine.
As you’ll have noticed from the photos, the population is decidedly on the older side and the simple lifestyle here probably isn’t what most young people would aspire to these days. However, there were signs of restoration taking place, and a visitor centre seems to be in the works. Hopefully, some new life will be breathed into the village without destroying the rustic charm which makes it worth visiting.