We went on a bike ride on our second day in Yangshuo and came across an old town called Longtang by accident. We were stopped at the front gate as we tried to cycle through and asked to pay a nominal entry fee of around 10rmb. We opted to pay an extra 10 kuai for a village guide. “He is lucky that you came with him” she told H as we began our tour, “normally we charge foreigners about 50 kuai to come into the village”.

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There wasn’t much to see in the village itself apart from the old buildings, some of which were 400 years old, but the village was very peaceful and a welcome break from the bike ride. We poked around the side alleys and through the occasional open door into large yards with outhouses of stacked firewood, almost into the houses themselves but the vast majority of them were padlocked with heavy chains and despite seeing the odd villager the place had the air of a ghost town. As we walked our guide filled us in on 400 years of gossip from the village, “the man who lived here was very rich” she told us, “he was a government official, but when he died there was no money, nobody could find it. It is buried somewhere in the village, this is why nobody will sell their houses here”. Of course there were also local village legends, all of which ended in someone changing into a rock, “there was a man”, she said, “he worked away from his family for a long time and finally he returned to the village to see his family. His mother was very happy to see him and suggested that they walk up the hill together, but when they got to the top the man fell off and was killed. The mother ran back to the village crying only to be met by some villagers who told her not to cry because her son had turned into a rock” with this she motioned towards a large vertical rock in front of the hill behind the village. Elsewhere a mother had become a rock and later a baby, I began to wonder if everyone in this village eventually turned to stone, after a while H stopped bothering to translate the stories.

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Stoneman – centre of photo

The village must have been rich once, the houses themselves seemed to be huge, with high walls lining the narrow party-sloganed alleyways to keep out intruders and large padlocked wooden doors preventing anyone from entering. That didn’t stop the Japanese though, our guide pointed out a narrow pathway between two houses that led to the hill immediately behind. “there used to be a fence/gate here” she said, pointing to the still visible marks between the walls, “but then Japanese soldiers came, “RUN TO THE HILL, RUN TO THE HILL” came the shout and the villagers kicked down the fence and hid on the hill until the soldiers had gone”.

Not much else to report on the village, it’s worth a look if you’re in the area but it doesn’t really warrant a special trip, here are some more photos:

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Most of the village walls were daubed with party slogans, H translated this for me but I forgot what it said (and she’s still in bed)

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One of the few other villagers we saw during the tour

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Our tour guide, she claimed to be ridiculously young, 45 if I remember correctly

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Over 100 years old, we bought some oranges from her for 1 kuai

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A familiar face

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