Fenghuang, Mar 2018

China

Would you like to hop on a time machine? Well, just travel to Fenghuang Old Town.

Tuojiang River (沱江)

Sunset time, sunset time, the colorful time, why do we need to tone the picture with grayscale?


Let the volume up!

When boarding the bus from Fenghuang to Zhangjiajie, the song stuck in my mind was Papa Money, and I replayed it for hundred times. It was just an incidental catch on Spotify, but I treasured that forever.


The Perfect Morning

We came to Fenghuang (凤凰县) after spending not-so-good days in Guangxi, due to overcast weather’s making the sceneries not as attractive as advertised.

And luckily we were blessed as the town welcomed us with fresh breeze of a cool clear day. It amazed us while we were passing Nanhua (南华) road bridging the river, overlooking the town illuminated by the purest sunshine of the day.

Fenghuang Overview
Fenghuang Overview

At that time tourists hadn’t flocked into the streets, so Fenghuang’s beauty was unveiled at its best.

Ancient Features Ancient Features
Ancient Features
Ancient Features

Once you have a chance to visit Fenghuang, I’m sure you will do this as in the photo: crossing river via the stepping stones.

Crossing Tuojiang River

Off the Beaten Path

The town is pretty small and perfect to discover all tracks on foot by yourself. As long as you walk southwards, there will be a lot more surprises at every lurking spot. I usually refer the river-facing roads as the more exposed main street, compared to the less busy south area behind them.

Unbeaten Paths Unbeaten Paths

You will encounter the big Culture Square and West Gate (it’s named West but located south). Fenghuang has 4 gates: Nanhua, North, East and West, and 2 wall segments: one between Nanhua Gate and East Gate, and one near West Gate. Along the West Gate wall is a small canal, which I found pretty untouched and charming.

Culture Square and Fenghuang West Gate
Culture Square and Fenghuang West Gate

Hanging Lanterns

Well it wouldn’t be China if there were no lantern decoration. Heading back northwards to the alleys near East Gate and we were overwhelmed by the red tones at every corner. The red complemented well with the blue sky, making the scene itself picturesque without using any filter.

Fenghuang Lanterns Fenghuang Lanterns
Fenghuang Lanterns

…red umbrellas and signboards.

Fenghuang Umbrellas Fenghuang Signboards

Boats on Tuojiang

If it’s noticeable enough for you, we have blue, we have red, and now we have green. It was lucky for us to experience all the striking colors in one day thanks to the great sun.

Rainbow Bridge
Rainbow Bridge

That’s why it was a blessing, a present this town gave to its visitors, a perfect collaboration of time and place.

The Rainbow Bridge (虹橋) seen above is a typical photography spot in Fenghuang, whether looked from high or low viewpoint, at sunset or sunrise time. Inside there are a lot of shophouses where you can treat yourself with some cute souvenirs.

Riverside Houses on Stilts
Riverside Houses on Stilts

I truly appreciated the surprising moment a boat passing by us, in front of us, on a perfectly still green backdrop. We were tempted to continuously take shots, but I felt it was necessary to get the camera off, keep silence and view it with our bare eyes.

Boat on Tuojiang River

The Sunset Spectrum

After the usual rest following lunch time, I waited until 4pm to be back on the journey again. This time the objective was as simple as to catch the sunset.

Longevity Palace (万寿宫)
Longevity Palace (万寿宫)
Wanming Tower (万名塔)
Wanming Tower (万名塔)
Wind Bridge (風橋)
Wind Bridge (風橋)

Here was the panoramic view of Fenghuang, when standing at the Wind Bridge.

Fenghuang Panorama

The color combination at sunset was totally mesmerizing, as if the objects were emerging from an oil-painting picture.

Boat Passing Rainbow Bridge
Boat Passing Rainbow Bridge

…the golden moment had come

I couldn’t describe how cherished I felt when taking this photo, no word could express it. It took me 2 hours to long for the sunset and reserve the standing place for my tripod, see how deserved I was.

Golden Moment

I had taken hundred shots from this spot with various setups, and all looked consistently good, nevertheless, only a few among the best could be selected for this post.

Fenghuang Sunset Fenghuang Sunset
Fenghuang Sunset

…and after sunset

It was kind of noisy, as the wooden riverside houses which looked ‘ancient’ were actually karaoke restaurants with powerful speakers. The town then resembled an ordinary busy city when lights were up.

Scenic Bridge at Night
Scenic Bridge at Night
Red Bright Lanterns
Red Bright Lanterns

The Overcast Day

The next day weather in Fenghuang was not as ideal as the first, but anyway, the dull tones might give the scenery a different appearance to capture.

Going far beyond Fenghuang bridge north-westwards, alongside the river were the street vendors selling handmade products crafted by the minorities, such as Miao (苗) or Tujia (土家) people.

Selling Souvenirs
Selling Souvenirs

Laid on silky amber piece of cloth, the little little endearing souvenirs such as charms, purses or bracelets are captivating to the passersby, and you hardly give them a miss.

Charms
Charms

I noticed the second day was more towards native culture and less touristy gimmicks compared to the first day, perhaps the life tempo was much slower.

A Tujia Woman
A Tujia Woman

The Pouring Rain

I opened my umbrella when the sky went worse, but that didn’t hinder me from shooting more photos. One hand for umbrella and one hand for camera was bearable, though it might have been kinda tiring to hold.

And here were some memorable captures. The walking-in-the-rain classics.

I'm Walking in the Rain I'm Walking in the Rain
I'm Walking in the Rain

For the end of this post, we had all the colors twinkle on the curtain of night.

Fenghuang Night

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This post is a part of the China series.

Written in Mar, 2019 © Zuyet Awarmatik.

About

Zuyet Awarmatrip is a subsidiary identity within the personal ecosystem of Zuyet Awarmatik, focusing on travel and photography.

A Vietnamese currently and not permanently based in Singapore, he usually regards himself as a carefree solo Eastern backpacker, alongside with his main profession as a UX designer & developer. His photos shall always deliver the colorfulness of this worldly reality, rather than monotony and cheerlessness.

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