ultramarinus – beyond the sea

LAOJIE (OLD STREET), Tunxi, China

With its extensive waterway and transportation network, Tunxi (屯溪) has long been a trading centre in the Anhui region since ancient times.  Today, it also serves as a good base for visiting the two UNESCO world heritage sites in Anhui, Huangshan (Yellow Mountain) and the Huizhou villages.  Also known as Huangshan City (Yellow Mountain City), Tunxi is conveniently connected to the mountain trailheads and the cable car terminals at the mountain foot with frequent buses.  At the heart of the old town is the well preserved historical main street simply called Laojie or Old Street (老街) which is about 1.27km long running in the east-west direction. Laojie reached its heyday in the Qing dynasty when it served as a commercial hub for businesses, especially tea trading. Today, Laojie has become a popular souvenir street, serving tourists heading to and from Huangshan.  Timber buildings and restored Huizhou buildings with white washed walls flanked both sides of the pedestrian street.  Vendors sell all kinds of souvenirs from the region, such as tea leaves, ink-stones, chili sauce, etc.  At night, vivid lighting and vibrant retail activities lit up the old buildings of Laojie, enhancing the enchanting atmosphere of the pedestrian street.

The Laojie of Tunxi offered us an introduction to Huizhou (Anhui).  For two nights the Youth Hostel at Laojie provided us a comfortable base to explore the unique architecture, food, and culture of the region.

1With its white washed walls and dark tiled roofs, Laojie remains as a showcase of traditional Huizhou architecture in Anhui.

2Timber panels are still being used as shop gate along Laojie.

3Some of the better preserved buildings have been converted into museums. Wancuilou (萬粹樓) Museum has a display of private antiques collections.

4Timber lattice and traditional window designs were still common sight along Laojie.

11Apart from wooden lattices, roof tiles also played a significant role in traditional Chinese architecture.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAVendors selling all kinds of souvenirs from traditional paper to spicy sauce revealed what Anhui is well known of among local tourists.

6Vendors of candy fruits and handcrafted hair combs with animal bones.

7For us, the century-old herbal medicine shop was one of the most attractive shops at Laojie.

8Meishi Renjia (美食人家 ) is a popular restaurant near the entrance of Laojie. We tasted a number of local dishes including dumplings, handmade noodle with meat+bean sauce, bamboo shoot salad and stuffed lotus root with sweet sticky rice in osmanthus syrup.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA restaurant specializes in Huizhou cuisine has a little booth at the front of the restaurant selling fried hairy tofu (毛豆腐).

10In the midst of traditional Huizhou architecture, two buildings stood out with their western touches.  One of the buildings was decorated with a communist star and the washes of old blue paint on other one revealed the building’s past glory and uniqueness.

12Stone products such as these bowls are popular here.

13Despite writing with ink and brush is no longer popular nowadays, the famous She inkstone (歙硯) from She County in Anhui  with meticulously carved figures remain as a popular souvenir from the area.

14Other than inkstones, Chinese brushes and xuan paper are among the most popular souvenir available in Laojie.

15Xin’an River lied in south of Laojie, where a local fisherman was testing his luck.

16Wancuilou (萬粹樓) at night.

17There are many restaurants serving Huizhou cuisine in the Laojie area which makes Laojie easily become a popular place for social gathering.

18Most shops were open till late at night.

19The entrance gateway of Laojie is a popular gathering place for tourists and the locals.

20This is the view of Laojie from our hostel window. The street remained active until late at night.

* * *

Read other posts on 2015 Anhui and Hangzhou
1. History, Scenery, Architecture, 5-day tour of Anhui and Hangzhou, China
2. Laojie (Old Street), Tunxi, China
3. Hongcun, Anhui, China
4. Xidi, Anhui, China
5. West Sea Canyon, Huangshan, Anhui, China
6. From Monkey Watching the Sea to Welcome Pine, Huangshan, Anhui, China
7. Xiangshan Campus, China Academy of Art, Hangzhou, China
8. Folk Art Museum, Xiangshan Campus, China Academy of Art, Hangzhou, China

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