by FreeCloud - Oct 28, 2002
Being one of the few well preserved ancient non-urban residential settlement, Xi Di village is on UNDESCO World Heritage List, see website for details: http://whc.unesco.org/sites/1002.htm
A village 41 km south of the Huangshan Mountain Park, was established in the reign of Emperoer Huangyou (1049-1054) in Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127). The boat-shaped village covers an area of 16 hectares.
The name of the village XI Di for its once being in the WEST of Huizhou Prefecture with once a 'Pu DI Suo' (small inn) in it. Also the three small streams around the villages flowing westwards while most the main rivers in China going eastwards.
Now there are 124 relatively well preserved residences built in Ming (1368-1644) and Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) in the village, all of which are elegantly decorated with brick carving, wood carving and stone carving. Many of these private residences are open to public. Guided tour is available.
Since the village only opened recently to foreigners by the time we were there, we were required a special 'permit' to tour the village. Such permit, somehow called 'Visa' by the admission office of the village, can be obtained from Huangshan City etc (make sure to ask before you go, hope it will not be required now). It was very strange that the admission officer asked us to show him our visa. I thought it would be too late for them to check our visa (visa for getting into China). However, none told us about this permit, it took our one-hour drive from the Huangshan mountain park to get to the village we definitely did not want to go back to get such a 'visa'. We finally persuaded the officer to let us have a 'shortened' tour, at a cost of 3 admission fees for two of us, including an English-speaking guide. Of course, if you go there with a tour group (bus), your guide should have everything prearranged.
The English-speaking guide was just out of a local high school, while her English was very limited, she was reluctant to practice. She knew enough of 'things' to tell general tourists who just want to 'be there', but far less knowledge on history, culture and architecture. It is very possible village guides try to sell you something as well.