Jianshui & Yuanyang Tour
We visisted Jianshui and Yuanyang during the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday. Both places were crowded with Chinese tourists and the so-called photographers, most of the visitors were guided by travel agencies, while the photographers drove to Yuanyang Rice Terraces by themseles.Only a few foreigners were seen in a small village Qingkou of Yuanyang.
Hotels/hostels were fully booked at double prices. We stayed at Jinniukezhan near the Yinghuimen for Y70/std. dbl(Y40 at low season), hot water supply was almost out at night. It was very difficult to find a even a vacant dorm bed at Xinjiezhen of Yuanyang, but finally we got lodged for Y20/bed at a hostel out of the way, with shared cold-water shower. Eating was cheap but it took too much time to wait for the turn. Chicken is the most expensive dish in Yuanyang yet acceptable.
Jianshui is a small city with a few historic sites, buildings along the main street were constructed in the old Chinese style, some are real heritages and some are just new imitations. Basically, the touristy area are consisted of one street, 3 memorial gates("Paifang" in Chinese), the confucian temple and the Zhu Family's Garden. The "ancient city" was full of people and all kinds of vehicles, including horse-carts, buses, private cars, vans, motorcycles...a walk along the main street was so hard. But the experience of taking a horse-cart was interesting, it costs Y2/head between the East Gate(Yinghuimen) and the West Gate of the city. The admission fee to the temple(Y60) and the garden(Y50) are overpriced. As we are not so interested in this kind of sights, we skipped the 2 places.
To avoid the chaos in the main street, we dived into the small lanes to explore the ancient wells. Those places were absolutely ignored by regular visitors. Old folk houses are not protected at all, wells are still in use by local people. Manpowered water-cart deliver water from door to door during the day...
Barbecue is very popular in Jianshui. Stalls are centralized in a narrow lane facing the first memorial gate,food are alomst the same in each stall. The best restaurant we found out is an inconspicuous one in the depth of the lane facing the 2nd memorial gate, cheap and tasty. Another well-decorated one in the same lane should be avoided.