Over the years we have been several times to China. Xi’an is the place where we had spent most of our time so I also learned one or two things about the city. One of those things I learned is where you want to have an apartment in case you got a bit more spare money on you. Yes I am talking about the Qujiang New District 曲江新区which was at first only for tourism but evolved quickly into a real district. What makes the place so interesting for people with some money? It looks just great with parks around, a lake and tons of shopping malls growing like mushrooms here and there. Also the apartment blocks are bit more luxurious than the standard ones you find in other city districts as they even have their own parks in the inner yard with ponds and tiny temples.
One friend of my wife had the luck and got one of the apartments there and now my little story starts. That friend is someone my wife knows since Elementary school and was always a bit wealthier than others around. She married a prince charming who studied in the UK and these days they live in the above mentioned area. Now what is so interesting about the younger generation in China who grew up in big cities is that they kind of lost the connection to nature and rural life. Sure it is wonderful to take walks around the parks in that area in Qujiang New District but it is not really a natural landscape. So what do younger people do when they get bored with going around shopping malls, eating in luxury restaurants or buying food in overpriced supermarkets? They leave the city for a few hours to experience the village life, or what they think the real village life is like.
This year we joined them for such trip into the rural depths of Shaanxi. Mind you I don’t complain here as it was a relaxing trip in a nice surrounding with wonderful food. However it is a bit amusing to see how these people think about life in rural areas. So what kind of place we would visit in order to experience village life? Of course a fancy guest house on a mountain slope just outside the city. With fancy guest house I really do mean a fancy guest house. We were eating in guest houses before and none of them got even close to this one. The whole little village was a bit better looking than what I had gotten used to over the years. While driving up the village road I noticed that nearly each building was a guesthouse with nice cars parking outside. Once we reached our guesthouse I was somehow not surprised anymore to see a collection of BMW’s, Mercedes and Audi in the yard.
The building itself was not so different from the normal guest houses you might encounter in China just a bit bigger and very nicely decorated. The main attraction here was their garden which was turned into a small restaurant with big shady trees and a bamboo fence all around to keep unwanted eyes away from the wealthy patrons. There was even an interesting self-made bamboo waterplay going around next to the fence which caught the attention of the playing children. The patrons who were not busy eating or drinking coffee were lounging in the swinging seats or in one of the hammocks. The more adventurous people were even taking short hikes up the mountain till they reached some run down houses and turned back in fear. All this while taking tons of Selfies posing in this village surroundings.
By now you might be wondering why there are not specific pictures of this village, the guesthouse or other things I described. I was not allowed! For one there was some strange tower/ bridge like metal construction with military personnel and I was not allowed to take really any pictures there and the second reason being that some of the patrons were people who do not wish to appear in any kind of photo making it impossible to do anything within the guesthouse. For me it is just so interesting how this all is happening. The friend of my wife and her husband were so amazed by the hammocks and that there were chicken on the street, it just blew my mind. I mean scenes which are for me just normal in China seems to be something the “upper class” has no contact with or idea about. It seems just so surreal that these normal things are something special for them and they even pay for it to see it. I must say that this particular village/ the guesthouses certainly found good way to make money, by simply giving wealthier people a polished version of the countryside life.
Have you ever experienced something similar? I just lack the words and can only sum it up as “fake countryside for rich people”.
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