A jump in the past visiting the old Furong Town
Hunan Province – Furong Town, also known as Hibiscus Town and originally named Wangcun, is located in Yongshun County of Western Hunan Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture. It is an ancient town with more than 2000 years of history. Wangcun was first founded by the King Tusi as the capital of Youyang County in the year of 202 BC, during the West Han Dynasty.
In 1997 the town changed its name in Furong (it means Hibiscus in Chinese phonetic alphabet) after a Chinese movie titled “Hibiscus town” (it won the Golden Award in 1987 as best Chinese movie) was recorded here in 1986 making the town nationwide famous in a short time. It tells the story about the life and travails of a young woman who lives through the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution.
Furong town, where everything is still well preserved, lies on the riverside of You Shui. Its highest altitude is 927 meters whereas the lowest is 139 meters and the incredible scenery of green mountains surrounds it. Walking through the small old town, it’s effortless, and it takes a couple of hours to complete the visit. Following the path that starts from the old town entrance gate (the ticket is 120RMB) and lining a high cliff, you’ll first reach one of the beautiful landscape of the town: the Wangcun waterfall. It is about 60 meters high and 40 meters wide and the largest waterfall in west Hunan Province.
Along the way, you’ll walk behind the hanging screen of the waterfall that, during the rainy season from June to August, with its high streamflow, make you feel like in a crystal palace. At the entrance of the Waterfall, there is a rock cave that is a relic site of the Tujia Ancestors. A local legend says that a group of Tuija people, escaping from central war, came here to survive. Here you’ll also enjoy the beautiful and unique view from the bottom of the typical Tujia ”Diaojiaolou” building perched on the high cliff. This complex was built by a wealthy chieftain of the Tujia nationality for a summer resort. From the palace complex is breathtaking the beautiful view of the ever-flowing stream, its waterfall and both sides cliffs.
The houses were built on the cliffs to make them easy to defend by invaders, in fact, during the ruling of King Tusi, those ”Diaojiaolou” buildings were soldiers’ dormitory. Left this beautiful landscape around the bottom of the fall, you’ll get the top of the cliff until the Furong jetty on You Shui river where you can enjoy a different view of Furong Tusi Palace on your left-hand side and where a famous street called Wulichangjie begins.
It is 2500-meter long street paved with green flagstone and lined by traditional shops and old wooden houses with green tiles strongly featured by a local architectural style. Walking along Wulichangjie street is something unique that makes you feel to be in ancient times. Also worth a visit to the Town’s exhibition Folk Museum, where are placed many local original machines, objects and tools that show the long and rich history of Tujia people.
Displayed in the town’s Exhibition also stands the ‘’Xizhou Copper Column’’, listed in cultural sites under the federal protection as historical evidence of the political and military history of Tujia people. In 940, Ma Xifan, King of Chu Area reached an agreement of ceasefire with the local leader of Xizhou after a long-time war, and they made a copper column with the weight of 2500 kilograms and 4 meters tall where they inscribed more than 2300 characters with the story of the war and the items of agreement.
Last but not least it’s also a ”must -do” to taste the local Rice Tofu bowl in one of small restaurant dotted on the Wulichangjie street or try the very spicy food of Hunan province.
Need to know
We spent in Furong a couple of hours on our way from Zhangjiajie to Fenghuang ancient town. We paid a local man with its private car in Zhangjiajie to bring us there (then to Fenghuang), but it was tough to find anyone speaking English.
1) When to go
The climate of Hunan is generally subtropical. The winter months are cold, with an average between 4°C-7°C. The monsoon period is from April to June and July and August are hot and wet too. The best period is October-November when the temperature is proper and the rains lighter. We visited Hunan in October. The sky was often cloudy, but we only bumped into short showers.
2) How to get there
If you use the local transports, you can take a train to Jishou Railway Station in Hunan Province. Then take a bus to Wangcun, which is the original name of Furong Town. It takes approximately 1.5 hours. Check the schedule and fares for a train ride on Trip.com.
If you are coming from Zhangjiajie or Fenghuang, take a local bus from their central Bus station to Jishou. The bus from Zhangjiajie runs several times a day from 9 am to 5 pm (55 YC, 23 hours ride), whereas from Fenghuang you have to take the bus to Jishou (25 YC, 1-hour ride). Probably you’ll find a coach to Furong town as well, therefore, check once you are there because it often happens that the schedules and stops suddenly change.
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