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JH Promotes Songxi’s Tourism
Post Time: 30/08/2018

The villages of Songxi, immersed in wonderful scenery, are now full of life thanks to the Jinhua Homestay (JH) and its activities. Mr. Xu, 60, now runs a cold drinks stall in the village and sells more than 200 bowls per day of homemade refreshing products. Previously, no stalls like this could be seen in the village, but now seven or eight have sprung up. Songxi’s old houses were cleaned and refurbished to become welcoming homestays, and other stalls are now appearing selling specialties and snacks. The local travel economy has been relaunched, and the villagers are tasting a new the sweet side of living among mountains and streams.

      In the historical village, Xu Zude runs a local restaurant, the fame of which has reached Pujiang. In a lifetime of work as restaurant owner, the old Xu has never been so busy as in these days: “Some days, after preparing food for the whole day, it’s all finished after lunch. I’d never imagined that Songxi could be under such shining light.”

      Another business that flourishes in the village is Mr. Xu brother’s Xipan Homestay. His wife, Wang Yujing, had a secure job in a major company in the city until a few months ago when she decided to quit, invest 100,000 RMB in the family’s old house, and transform it into a homestay accommodation full of traditional and historical taste. She also managed to rediscover and reuse the traditional bed that was used by her grandparents. Now, it has become a special treasure. The two brothers agreed on launching their businesses—one engaged in accommodation, the other in food: a great combination for excellent business.

      Many local youths share similar stories; in fact, Wang Yujing confirmed that after returning to Songxi, she found out that a greater number of young people are making similar choices: cafés, bars, aromatherapy centers, and start-up bases are the activities launched by young locals returning to the village.

Thus Songxi is reliving the old fame of Little Hangzhou. Around mealtime, the village’s households are busy preparing for lunch. The hosts of Home Plus 1, Pan Haimin and Xu Tingjiao, have no spare time, needing to prepare a big table of dishes for their international guests: “For lunch today, we have potatoes with beef, braised pork, and stir-fried rice with tomatoes and eggs; the favorites of our guests.” In addition to lunch and dinner, the participants are particularly fond of the local breakfasts: “I love the steamed buns which our host makes. I’ve heard that they can only be eaten in this house. We’re very lucky!” praised Elisabeth Augustin from Germany.

      In order to welcome and take good care of the new guests, the couple expressly took a long vacation from work and spent their time concentrating on the house. “As soon as I knew that we were going to host the participants of the JH, my husband and I immediately started to prepare for the event. We needed to do the cleaning, prepare three meals a day, and help them feel comfortable at home in their 21 days here,” confessed Xu Tingjiao. She went on, explaining, “The lifestyle in the village has improved. The offer of homestay is now able to satisfy a greater number of visitors who are willing to come and stay. And now the young villagers are also eager to return and settle down here. Working in other places can be hard, but having the chance to work in one’s hometown is a blessing.”

      In the village, many are the examples like this local couple; but there are also cases of strangers who have moved in to start their own business. The couple Chen Huang and Zhu Wenwen seized the chance of the Songxi Session to open a special “aromatherapy” homestay. With handmade soaps, fragrant lipsticks, and various tastes of oils, the guests not only can produce their favorite items, but can also enjoy aromatic spa treatments.

      Wang Yujing, Zhu Wenwen, Chen Huang, and more young people like them have a new name: Village Entrepreneurs. They agree on the fact that a historical village needs to have its own “industry of specialties” to be able to attract more visitors to stay overnight, and this is what they are endeavoring to do.

      Because of the Songxi Session of the JH, they not only realized their individual value, but also played a key role in the sustainable development of the village. There are also many other villagers who rent out their vacant old houses, clean them, and strive to maintain the original appearance of the village while working at its modernization and beautification.

      This is, according to Xu Zude, how Songxi looked in the past: lively and full of energy and aspirations. And this is happening thanks to the freshness and hope brought about by the younger generations, who are returning to the villages and adding new voices to the silent atmosphere. (By Wang Lei, translated by Marco Lovisetto, edited by Kendra Fiddler)

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