While in Guilin, China, we had the chance to visit Huang Yao, a 1,042-year-old town with beautifully-preserved remnants of the past. The time-warped, ancient city is a labyrinth of narrow streets and brick-laid houses, with giant marble paving the walkways and red lanterns hanging from the ceilings. Chinese inscriptions that had been carved into the brick walls, stand witness to its history, along with the temples, assembly halls and courtyards.
During its heydays in Qing Dynasty, there were over 300,000 traders and merchants living here. Now they’ve dwindled down to just 3,000. The two big families who lived here – the Yaos and the Huangs (my surname – perhaps my ancestors came from here!) – were the ones who gave the town its name.
Here are some of our photos from Huang Yao, hope they’ll give you a good glimpse of old-world China.
The streets are paved with black marble from the nearby mountains and houses are lined with grey bricks and terracotta tiles on their roof.
Most people here still live on agriculture, producing local staples like dried pickles mushrooms and peanuts and selling them along the narrow alleys. Huang Yao is best known for its dry chili paste and local wine.
Wooden figures lay on the altar of a temple that’s dedicated to a local hero.
Many Chinese revolution movies including Hollywood flick The Painted Veil were filmed here. We spotted many propaganda posters that had been painted onto the walls.
The name of Huang Yao Ancient Town inscribed on a concrete block.
Chinese calligraphy hang above a walkway named Peaceful Gate.
Red is a symbol of luck and prosperity in the Chinese world. Posters, calligraphy and lanterns were all in red at Huang Yao.
We tried the local soya beancurd which was sweet, flaky and extremely tender – our local guide Miss Lee told us that soya beancurd in Huang Yao is exceptionally goood as it’s cooked with water from the 1,000-year-old well.
The town is surrounded by karst hills, flowing rivers and verdant greenery: a spot of excellent fengshui – which the Chinese still strongly believe in today.
A 800-year-old Banyan tree greeted us at the old town’s entrance. It is aptly named the Dragon’s Paw, hanging eerily over the jade green Zhu River.
Coincidentally, we were here during a local festival: there were traditional dance performances, liquor drinking contests and wine-tasting sessions.
Disclosure: This trip was made possible by China Odyssey Tours, but all opinions expressed above are our own.