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Heshun Village of Yunnan

 2014-01-20    Ada    Sights    Heshun    1312  

From atop the surrounding hills, Heshun, a rustic village in western Yunnan near Tengchong, is only a small cluster of tile roofs huddled together in the green valley below. Surrounded by a river and built along the slope of a hill, the town extends about 3km horizontally. Since the early of Ming dynasty, ethic Han-Chinese from inland migrated to this place for military presence. Later, the town got prosperous from international trade business as it's the must-go-through site on the old Silk road. Looking down on it, there is none of Tengchong's urban drabness. The tiled roofs are squeezed together so tightly it is difficult to discern if the town has any streets.

Later Han-Chinese from different part of the country settled in Heshun. The town became famous for its library which embodied the high level of education the migrants decided to uphold. The architecture still follows the ancient style of Ming/Qing dynasty. You could visit the Library, Museum of Yunnan-Burmese Anti-Janpanese War, Heshun Lane, Wanlouzi Museum, vaious temples and ancestral halls. As Cun, Li,Yin, Liu and Jiahave been quite old families since migration dated back to AD1382, they all have their own ancestral halls as icons. After you enter the main gateway of the old town, you will see a delicate pavilion named Yuzhou in the middle of the lotus pond. The zip aisle connects it to the street. Follow the street to the Twin Rainbow Bridges. There are 3 memorial gateways by the sides of the river, after which stands the Library and Wenchang Temple From here, you've already walked into the old world. Washing pavilions have unique background story in this old town. There are a dozen of them along the river.

As the tradition, most Heshun adult men had to go abroad for business to raise the whole family just after they got married. So they built the washing pavilions for their wives for shading while washing clothes along the river. When they were away from families, this was the only protection they could offer to the lovers. Young wives also waited there to expect the early return of the husbands. Yet someone could have been dead halfway abroad or buried in foreign countries and never returned, the widow would lead a lonely life till death. Then her families would build up a memorial gateway as a good example for other women to follow. You could stand below one of the memorial gateways to imagine those tragic romance.

Since Heshun was located on the southern Silk Road, many were involved in trade and left town to go abroad in order to pursue their commercial endeavors. The Chinese said they “went on the barbarian side”: Burma, India, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Japan, USA, Canada. Hence Heshun’s nickname : the “Hometown of Overseas Chinese”.

Relax and walk along any stone lanes, stop at various residential houses as far as you like. Or just have a seat by the side of the river, watch the wild ducks passing by, lotus swaying to the breeze, white egrets flying against the glowing sunset sky is good enough. 

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