Shaanxi is a region packed with history and culture. In fact, in Xi’an and the surrounding region sometimes even the ground seems to be overflowing with it. Tombs, most notably of the Qin and Ming, dot the countryside while the sheer amount of artifacts under Xi’an has raised concerns about building a subway system.
Outside the world of ancient relics lies another underground treasure: the Yaodong (窰洞). A type of dwelling little known outside of China, they are particularly common in Shaanxi due to the number of loess hills in the region and a natural lack of other building materials.
Yaodongs also hold a special place in Chinese history: when the Long March concluded in Yan’an, in northern Shaanxi. Here, Mao and his other compatriots built and lived in Yaodongs due to their simplicity during the well-known Yan’an period.
However the Yaodong, much like the hutong, seems to be on its way out in today’s China. Younger people are trending towards more technologically-based life in cities and apartments, and the Yaodong is used less and less.
WildChina offers an opportunity on our Xi’an tours to experience a piece of this history by visiting a Yaodong. While the Yan’an complex has much been converted into hotels, there is still an opportunity to experience the authentic Yaodong about 30km outside of Xi’an.
In a small 4-cave complex, largely forgotten by time, live an octogenarian couple. Their four children have all moved to growing towns, and the eldest lives 700km away. Man and wife are both veterans of the revolutionary era, one fighting in the Korean War while the other struggled to maintain their rural existence. When visitors come to their cave, they welcome them as substitutes for absent family, excitedly providing generous hospitality and laying open their fascinating lives for all to hear.
WildChina is pleased ask you to join us at this home soon, a unique experience to add to any trip to Xi’an and just one more way to Experience China Differently.