Karen from Philippines is now studying in Shaanxi Normal University. Last month, she joined our trip to Hancheng, where was famous for its culture and historical antique dwellings. Karen has just lived in Xi’an for a month, so this was her first time traveling to somewhere out of Xi’an and she was so impressed about this trip that wrote an article about her experience in Hancheng…
Hancheng: The Heart of Culture
Travelling to Hancheng, China is an overwhelming opportunity to be treasured. It’s a three hour travel from Xi’an where mountains and fields give warm welcome to the countryside. I was amazed how future protects its past. Years have passed but people managed to protect their inheritance; a treasure that nobody can steal or destroy.
This place is famous because of the cultural sites which are built from China’s history. One of these is the Dang village where we first explored. Changes were done but majority of the village’s structure is preserved. Upon entering the gate, the management acknowledged us with immense hospitality. I am glad with the employees’ warm gestures of making us comfortable with the place. As the breeze touches my face, I can feel the tranquillity of the surroundings. I can hear the leaves singing and dancing with the wind. I see a horizon of vast memories.
Before reaching the village, we were informed how it was built and for decades it was never been destroyed by any calamity. The tour guide said “villagers were guided by feng shui tradition”. It is one of the villagers’ bases of designing their houses even the location itself. It is remarkable that even though the village is situated in a low land area, this place managed to survive for decades. I think the towering mountains around the village serve as its shield, keeping the village safe from catastrophes.
When we arrived at the village, the locals welcomed us with the smiles on their faces. The house that really caught my attention was the house with altar which architectural design is unique and looks ancient. I was astonished not only with the art and structure but most importantly with the story behind an altar. It speaks of how the family pays respect and attention to honour, not only as prestige but also as doing good deeds for their community and nation as a whole. Indeed, it’s one of China’s significant cultures.
Another notable place is the house of treasury; I was amazed with the five (5) Chinese man made figures in a house. Also, three (3) black boxes were placed in-front of the house as a representation of their treasury box in the past. It shows past practices of the villagers regarding collecting and dividing money or profit. I can see unity and cooperation. These are two (2) of the important ingredients of a successful country. We also went to an old school for boys; books paintings and calligraphies were noticeable inside. We went around and stopped in the area where a temple is overlooking. Our guide said that when villagers want to pray for good fortune, they go to the temple..
On the 2nd day of our tour, we went first to the party village. Along the way, we dropped by a store and tasted some chips, these are tasty. We went in a temple where you can experience tea ceremony. Again, my attention was caught by an ancient stage design; the carvings on the wood talks about how Chinese people excel in art as well as defining their characteristic of being creative. After which, we had hot pot for lunch. What we had is considered local food. Vegetables are overflowing and what made it more special was when we have to cooperate to get vegetable and noodles in a boiling pot using chopsticks. It was fun and amazing!
Our last destination was the temple of Sima Qian. He was a noteworthy person in Chinese history. The place was surrounded by big sculptures standing tall in both sides. These sculptures tell a story about yellow river and traditions like feng shui, the yin and yang, and many things about China. As we go along, I saw the statue of Sima Qian standing strong at the center of the quadrangle. According to our tour guide, the temple is the resting place of Sima Qian when he was punished by the emperor trying to defend his friend. I guess he values friendship than prestige. At first, I was excited to reach Sima Qian’s tomb. However, I never imagined how high it is. I was supposed to back out but I managed to continue.
Our tour guide said that “if you can reach the tomb of Sima Qian or the highest part of the temple, you can also reach your dreams in life.” So, don’t give up until you reach the top. I feel like a bird soaring high when I reached the top of the temple. I see wide horizons of past and future. Also, a tree at the center of the quadrangle caught my attention. It stands serenely. I was amazed with what my eyes have seen. I could feel its peacefulness, taking away all the tiredness in me. I feel so relaxed like I could stay there forever. The place is indeed a gift of nature. Preserving its balance like yin and yang, Chinese culture is really fascinating to me. Thus, this experience is not only a “weekend to remember” but a memory to be told forever.
Lastly, I remember our tour guide said something like “if you want to see the world, go to Beijing; if you want to see the people, go to Shanghai; if you want to see history, go to Xi’an.” I want to add a line; “if you want to see culture, go to Hancheng”.