The Countryside Experience for the Wealthy

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.

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Ain’t a bad place to have an apartment at

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.

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Nearby the guesthouse, you can see Xi’an in the background

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.

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Part of the Guesthouse

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.

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Latest at this spot most visitors rushed back to their guesthouses

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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30 thoughts on “The Countryside Experience for the Wealthy”

  1. Wow that is something interesting. I find it quite bizarre at the idea that your wife’s wealthy friends were surprised at the most normal things of country life. The idea of living in a well-facilitated guesthouse to experience the rural life is quite funny ha ha.. Have the Chinese youth of today become that accustomed to city life? The surroundings on your photos look really nice and peaceful.

    1. I have the feeling that the young generation in the cities has zero contact with the rural life except of course when they still got some relatives left there. Even my wife hasn’t visited her extended family in the villages for the past 15 years!

  2. Ah, well. I guess really that can’t be different than um, the emperor not knowing a peasant’s life..except now it’s making some money for rural life as a sideshow.

    In Canada sometimes there might be a heritage village which is more a dedicated living “museum” to show how people lived 150 years ago.

    For villages /towns oriented to tourists in Canada, it’s more what is done in the centre of the village…to provide eating places, nice park, stores…but the farms and all that stuff, there’s nothing special.

    However there is agritourism in some parts of Canada, where enterprising farmers, create their home for bed ‘n breakfast. That’s the closest thing I can think of. So the farm house would be “nicer”.

    My partner was a part-time farmer and when we go biking in rural areas or driving through, I ask him about the nature farming, etc.

    I think the issue in China is not rural life, but wealthy upper class shielded from rural poverty.

    I agree the disconnect from Nature is real. However in Canada, it is possible to immerse oneself quickly in wilderness and “roughing” it for a few days/weeks by camping, etc. I’m sure you could write about the “foreign” concept of camping for the Chinese nationals.

    1. Canada sounds very similar to Germany and Finland when it comes to the agriculture tourism. Here nearby my hometown are also some older farms offering such experience and you sleep in the hayloft 🙂

      I think in China it is not only the wealthier people who lose/lost all idea and contact to the rural life but the younger generation in general who are shielded from any distraction and are pushed for studies all their youth

      1. Sleeping in a hayloft would cause some people’s allergies to act up. 🙂

        There have been psycho-social articles on wellness linked to exposure to Nature to relax and de-stress people plus increase their awareness of how tiny/powerless they are in Nature’s big scheme of things.

  3. This is very interesting to hear, especially turning around at the dilapidated house, but not surprising. As the others said, they want to be comfortable and maybe don’t want to get the least bit dirty. Yet they want to peep and visit.

    Lol, isn’t chicken on the street normal in China. But maybe these kinds of chicken run around more manic 😂 Maybe it is a money-making scheme – it didn’t sound like you got to meet anyone else like the locals and eat outside of the guesthouse?

    1. Indeed I didn’t see any “locals” except the guesthouse owners who btw were getting wealthy with this scheme as well, at least when watching their huge European SUV…
      For me it seemed really like they watch some real life village museum/ exhibition without getting any dirt or even bad smells for their nose!

  4. These wealthy urbanites are the same all over the world, and always have been – remember that before her head was chopped off Queen Marie-Antoinette of France loved to play at being a shepherdess in a specially built (de-luxe) farmyard in Versailles! Many kids in the UK who live in cities have never seen a cow or a hen and have no idea where frozen peas come from (made in a factory?!).
    As a foreigner in China, like myself, you have had the opportunity to travel around the country and see what rural areas can be like. Many Chinese, even quite well-to-do ones, haven’t had that chance.

    1. I think I had the luck growing up in a small town with many friends of mine living in the villages around and even on farms. I guess as soon as you grow up in a big city and have no relatives outside you won’t really know life outside of it as a young person these days…
      Here in Germany I know some wealthier people but they actually do have contact with the country still as they all are having at least one big farm or are hunters. (Will never understand the thrill of hunting, even when I go fishing I let the fishes go back t their environment rather than killing and eating them)

  5. Well, it sounds like a very profitable idea to get rich people’s money, haha. If it was I would have added some sheep or cows. “20 kuai for taking a picture with the cow!”.

  6. It really is funny what people think rural countryside is. I love the proper rural countryside with those chickens running around, kids with split pants and grandpa sitting with his friends playing cards whilst nanna is making a hot lunch of all parts of some animal and fresh beautiful vegetables. Great post.

  7. The whole thing sounds rather bizzarre. But, then again, there are toilet restaurants in Taiwan where people eat ice cream out of squat toilet shaped bowls, drink out of cups shaped as urinals, etc. so nothing really surprises me. However, I am not sure if the rich eat there.

    Sounds like a good idea to attract rich people though! 🙂

    1. Trust me those toilet restaurants are rather normal I think. These countryside experience things are just so unreal to me. I mean the entire trip from city to the village you didnt see any other villages and hence those “rich people” couldnt evensee the difference between reality and what they chose to visit

  8. Interesting!There’s a Snow /Ice Restaurant in Kuwait where everything in the interior is made of ice.The whole place is surreal,almost crazy.Imagine the heat and you have this highly maintenance facility.What comes as no big surprise anymore for me is the overly-expensive price.
    Typical example of trying to create a ” Snow/Ice Haven” .With a lack of natural landscape,there’s so much man-made facilities are booming there!

  9. In Thailand, it’s also the same, in that it’s very fashionable for hi-so Thais to have a 2nd home in Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai for that ‘taste’ of nature and country living.

    Oh, boy. Right? 😛

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