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October 2018. Spontaneous trips are always fun! I’d actually told myself that I wasn’t going to do any travel for two solid months as I concentrate on publishing as many travel reports as I can from old trips over the past seventeen years. But then I got an invitation from a friend in Cangnan County and when I saw that Cangnan’s train station was just a sixteen-minute ride from Rui’an, I knew I’d be an idiot not to go. This largely rural region of Zhejiang Province is totally off the map for foreign travellers and my focus that day was on a small hilltop community known as Fudewan Ancient Village. There are barely a handful of references to it online and, as far as I’m aware, this is the first English language article about it on the internet.
October 2018. Fudewan Ancient Village is a beautifully preserved community nestled beneath a sweeping mountain range and bowling-green countryside. This is the village main street (Old Street), home to a huddle of craft shops, a general store and some restaurants specializing in local dishes such as pork wonton, spiced goose and crispy sweet lotus root.
October 2018. Fudewan Ancient Village’s most unique product is alum, a colourless compound that’s a hydrated double sulfate of aluminum and potassium. I’m quoting from Wikipedia here… I’m not well versed in this kind of stuff! Anyway, you can see alum all over the village in both bags of chopped chunks and large egg-shaped forms like these. Apparently alum is used in medicine as well as dyeing, tanning and filtering products.
October 2018. The Fudewan people speak a local dialect which is so hard to understand even my Chinese friend was at a loss as to what one guy was asking us. In any case no language skills are needed to communicate with the village street vendors. Like everyone here, this old woman’s products can be purchased with WeChat, a social media app with a pay function that is linked to your bank account. Just scan, wait for the ping and it’s all done. She was selling dried grapefruit peel and salty tofu. “I think you will not like it!” said my friend with a polite smile. She was probably right.
October 2018. Fudewan Ancient Village is also home to an age-old tea house that now serves as a prestigious Tea Academy that draws in visitors from all over Zhejiang Province. Many Chinese people come here to buy quality tea and learn about the growing and brewing process. I was told it probably wasn’t a good idea to go in unless I intended to buy some tea!
For more on my afternoon at this secret corner of China, take a look at my article:
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