Fenghuang(Phoenix) Town

It is true that a novel can make a place popular, even though the novel was composed 70 years ago. Fenghuang town, an inconspicuous tiny dot on the map, is an example of it. Shen Congwen, a much-flattered novelist for his books describing vivid daily lives of ragtag country fellows and their living circumstances among ravines, timber hills, rivers, villages and towns including Fenghuang. What makes tourists pick out Fenghuang as the favorite destination is because it's hometown of Shen Congwen.

Comparing with coastal provinces in east China, Hunan is still a place of backwater in central China and the west hill region of Hunan(Xiangxi) is more far away dropped behind; ironically such a region gets more chances to survive out of vast destruction in the course of modernization and thus plays role of hideout resort for city-dwellers. In Fenghuang town, a large block of architectures built in Ming(AD1368-1644) and Qing(1644-1911) dynasties survived wars, fire, flood and communist Revolution Culture. Clear Tuojiang river meanders through the town forcing local people to have constructed a number of bridges in different styles but now they are lingering locations for tourists and photographers. The peaceful, often mist-mantled small towns in Xiangxi as Fenghuang alike, holed up in verdant hills were once a turf of scrambles among bandits, warlords and smugglers who, along with town-dwellers in all trades played a colorful and characteristic concert in the age of Shen Congwen and it was distinctly projected in the stories composed by Mr.Shen. Thus it would be very helpful for gratifying one's Fenghuang journey if one reads some stories by Mr. Shen that is now available online. As if for adding even more appeals, some inconsecutive sections of Great Wall have been discovered in this area echoing with the Great Wall near Beijing. The southern Great Wall, built during 1573-1620, served to defend southern border in Ming dynasty. Till today you may take a thorough view to a stone fortress that is dwelling community of local farmers whose forefathers are believed the border army sent there by then imperial government.

Phoenix is propitious bird and a favorable totem in China and this cached town was given the name for convincing reasons for sure. But you won't know if you don't be there.

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