合乐娱乐场官网 www.96otf.com.cn "The Rock of Lives" in Maotang, Shangougou in Zhejiang Province (Photo/Khyati Shah)
Festivals are special times of merriment and joy. For Chinese everywhere, the Spring Festival is an important time to get together with family, so people go to great lengths (quite literally) to travel to their hometowns and cherish familial ties.
This past Spring Festival, I traveled to China's rural interiors. Traveling in rural China during the Chinese New Year is a fantastic way to see and soak in Chinese culture.
As a cultural aficionado, the Spring Festival presented a lovely opportunity to see and observe close up the unique and rich facets of centuries old Chinese civilization.
A few days in a hidden village in East China's Zhejiang Province with simple village folk sounded like it would be a magic potion that could drown away my weariness.
The village of Shangougou is nestled away in Yuhang county, 70 kilometers away from -Hangzhou.
Ask any traveler in China and they will be familiar with the name Hangzhou, the home of the resplendent West Lake and more recently the host of the G20 Summit, but Shangougou is unheard of and therein lies its virginal bliss.
Large crowds at tourism attractions are always a big downer for travelers. The Chinese countryside is free from this.
Here, beauty lies nestled in the lap of Mother Nature, inviting you to partake in its peaceful offerings.
How else could I describe a village with a flowing river along its entire length that breaks into cascading waterfalls at different intervals?!
When rays of sunlight break into tiny prisms of rainbows reflecting on the water, you realize these are the picturesque images that make their way onto the wallpapers on our computers or adorn the walls of homes.
Shangougou is a shining example of the age old adage - Beauty lies in simplicity.
Far away from the noise of cars stuck in traffic, all you can hear here is the soft murmurs of rippling water as it flows down the river.
The water is so clean and clear that one can see right down to the bottom of the river bed.
While listening to the gurgling rush of the waterfalls, if you happen to sit beside the river, chances are the sweet -lullaby of the river waters may put you to sleep.
Exploring the village by foot, you may notice the gentle fall and rise of the sloping roads. The stone village houses are simply yet adequately furnished.
Shangougou is home to a dense bamboo forest atop a mountain, which makes for a good hiking trek. Rocky paths show that the area has not been explored by many.
A beaten track would make things smoother for future travelers but the rocky paths add to the thrill and adventure of making your own path as you proceed. You might slip a bit but it just adds to the fun of exploring the wilderness.
Just wandering around in the village aimlessly is also very relaxing and serene as your senses bask in the lap of nature.
As a line from a poem by J.R.R. Tolkien says, "Not all those who wander are lost." I firmly believe there are times when aimless wandering can actually help you find yourself!
At night, a blanket of stars envelops the sky. Since I was there on Chinese New Year's Eve, there was cause to celebrate and soon fireworks of all kinds sparkled with all their might, magnificently accompanying the twinkling stars in the sky.
Soon there were loud -rhythmic sounds resounding in the village - lo and behold, a dragon dance! I held the dragon and accompanied the -procession too for what was a priceless -experience.
Spring Festival comes with a number of traditions that are carefully preserved in the countryside much to my delight.
As dawn broke on the first day of the Chinese New Year, I visited an ancient temple nearby which housed a splendid Golden Buddha and some other gods, thus starting the New Year on an auspicious note.
The air quality in Shangougou is great. While there I recommend visiting the Maotang and Tangkeng scenic spots, which are part of a biosphere protection zone.