Ciqikou Ancient Town

Chongqing, China

A neat preservation of Chongqing’s past, Ci Qi Kou village remains firmly rooted in tradition and ancient ways, undisturbed by the flow of time and progress. When the dynasties of Qing and Ming were flourishing, this town was famous for its porcelain production (hence the name, Ciqikou) and being a key shipping port. Most construction is still true to those times. Accordingly, the local government has given it protected status and it attracts visitors from far and wide nowadays.

The ancient village sits atop a hill, right alongside the Jialing river. It is at a distance of 8 kms from Shapingba district in Chongqing and you make the journey very conveniently with metro’s line 1 or the plethora of buses that go on this route. It is best to go there in the morning, when the tourist throngs are yet to arrive and scrap some semblance of peace from this otherwise over-crowded place.

You are free to roam the village and take in the aromas, crafts, performances and souvenirs on display in the multitude of shops that line the alleys and the overall past heritage of this small town. However, some attractions, like the Baolun Temple and Zhong’s compound charge a small entrance fee of RMB5. Though the place has much to offer, you can get the essential experiences done within a day trip from the main urban area.

The place has an architecture made up of timber and bamboo wood, blue bricks and pillars, with black lanterns and steles sprinkled in its midst for a throwback to old ages. You can visit the numerous bars and teahouses, but not just for the beverages. These places are often stuffed to the brim because of performances of their folk tales. A famous teahouse to look for is the Shuchang Teahouse.

The Shu embroidery workshop and the many other shops selling unique arts and crafts is something you cannot miss while in Ciqikou. Not only do you get to see the artists at work in certain places, but this will also allow you the ability to choose a truly authentic souvenir to take back home.

Chinese people were all about spirituality and this is most evident when you realize the abundance of temples in a small town such as this one. Though many have fallen into disrepair, the Baolun Temple is well maintained and thriving, where the locals claim that the second emperor, Jianwen of the Ming kingdom, came to take refuge after his throne was overtaken by the Yongle Emperor. It is a Buddhist temple that houses more than 200 monks and welcomes worshippers coming in regularly.

And after all is said and done, you can sit down and grab some local grub. The choices are plenty, but famous dishes of the locality are salt peanuts, eel with duck blood curd (try THAT, if you dare!) and fried sliced bean curd or Qianzhangpi. Traditional Chongqing cuisine, smothered in chili, is another popular choice. You won’t forget the flavors in a hurry!

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