fenghuang Narrow Flagstone Streets

The narrow flagstone streets of Fenghuang

At least a couple of hours bus ride from Tongren, we arrived at the town of Fenghuang, located at the north-western side of Hunan province. Since our next bus ride to is a bit late in the afternoon, we decided to spend some time in town. Fenghuang has two sides, the modern and the ancient. The Ancient River side town is considered as one of China’s Heritage and also one of the two most beautiful town in the whole China, the other being Chang Ting in Fujian Province.

fenghuang Boatment

Fenghuang Boatmen at Tuo Jiang River

We took a cab to head to the river town. It didn’t cost much since it’s just a few minutes away as we found out. There was a blockade a few houses before the actual gate bridge as not to allow any vehicles in the premises. What we saw beyond the East Gate Bridge is a scenic river side town with old Chinese houses with a beautiful mountain terrain as the back drop. Even if the weather was gloomy with occasional drizzles, it’s still looks great with the mist.

Fenghuang East Gate Bridge

Fenghuang’s East Gate Bridge

Fenghuang Town was built in 1203AD and was previously known as Zhengan. Eventually the name changed to Fenghuang which means ‘Phoenix‘ in Chinese. Legend has it that two of these mythical birds flew over the town and was reluctant to leave for a while since they found it very beautiful. Hence the name Feng Huang Cheng or Phoenix Town came to be.

fenghuang River Side Houses

The Riverside houses

The Tuo Jiang River was muddy brown since it was raining at that time, but on a perfectly clear day it was said to be emerald green, reflecting the mountain scape in which the town is at the foot. Much of the structures like the walls, temples, bridges, wells, stone steps and stilt houses remain their old structures and styles ranging back to Ming and Qing Dynasties. It’s an old authentic Chinese town before modernization crept in. And what’s best, it’s not too touristy which I liked.

fenghuang Miao Minority Flute Vendor

A Miao Minority Flute Vendor

Most of the people here belongs to the Miao Ethnic Minorites. They are the largest ethnic minority in China living at the hill sides and slopes of the mountains. They are a colorful bunch and are fond of jewelries and trinkets. The people here are also a bit aloof of cameras as I noticed. The Miaos sells some trinkets and interesting knits and wears at the streets of Fenghuang.

fenghuang Street Barbecue Vendor

Delicious and Colorful street and Riverside BBQ

Since we only had a few hours of stay in town we decided to eat our lunch here. Passing by one of the barbecue stalls by the river already caught the attention of my grumbling stomach. Her Barbecue delicacies are really mouthwatering that’s hard to resist. I bought a blocked tofu, crablets, potato salad, and thin mushroom stems all topped with their chili. Really good and only cost me 13 RMB (87 Php)

Street side BBQ Fenghuang

Eating my snack/lunch of Blocked Tofu, crablets, potato salad and mushrooms

There were other food fares there but mostly I saw dried fruits and plums of different kinds. I bought a few so I’ll have some snacks for our next bus ride. We walked down the East gate river side street and enjoyed the scenery. Walking the old red flagstone streets here is like walking back in time, much like the cobblestone streets in our Vigan. I heard the night here is beautiful as well with all those lanterns lit up by the river. Too bad we couldn’t stay for the night. We inquired on some lodgings there and rooms per night goes only for 25-30 RMB. Really cheap.

Fenghuang Bus Station

Our afternoon bus to Zhangjiajie

It was hard to leave town but our bus leaves at 5pm. We took another cab to the bus station. And soon our bus was rolling off for another couple of hours drive to Zhangjiajie. I hope I could visit the place and stay in town for a few days in the future.

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Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.

12 Responses to “China: Ancient Town Fenghuang”

  1. i think i’ll really like china. i recently bought the may issue of national geographic which featured china. while reading this post, im looking at the national geographic because there’s a detailed map there.

    i never thought that crablets can actually be cooked in barbecue style. hehehe… the riverside houses are impressive ferdz. the mountain backdrops are definitely a plus to this place.

  2. beautiful! yan ang maganda sa China, yung mga ancient towns na na-preserve nila even through time. kumpleto ka talaga mag-document ng isang bagong lugar, from the scene to the people, from the houses down to the very details of foodtripping. galing. i love the shot of the Riverside houses. there is something not balance about it but tehy look good in frame.

  3. wulferdz, the painting-like quality of the houses, particularly the roofs, are marvelous. the eastgate bridge is very, very impressive. and the food, grabe. like dom noted, i never imagined crablets can be grilled and served barbeque style.

  4. There’s a lot to like about China Dom, for such a huge country. haha. I never thought too as well. Pero masarap din sya.

    China is in the spotlight a lot this year Eric. From the negative to positive, the olympics and the calamities. Thanks for your comments on the photos.

    Tama Rayts! Natuwa talaga ako sa mga old structures nitong place. Yun din talaga ang gusto ko makita dito which I’ve seen a lot when I was a kid watching all those kung-fu movies.

    Ei Ogbear, Katuwa talaga yung place. Very picturesque yung textures nung houses and roofs. Hehe. First time I saw crablets served like that. Buti ok naman yung lasa. Especially with the Chili.

  5. Many thanks Photo Cache! You bet, that’s why I stopped at her stall to eat. hahaha 😀

    That’s true Major Tom. I find that food is a lot cheaper outside. Same goes with Vietnam where we had a fine dine for only 10USD and it’s ver very good. Food prices here in Manila should be very competitive as well.

  6. but i disagree with FERDZ as well, kasi di mo na halos makikita ang places na ala kungfu ang setting, if meron, highly commercialised na now tlga. or a boom town at polluted. but there are pockets in china which retains its former spice pa nmn. viva zhonggo! :X

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