Yuantong ancient town is located 40km west to the city of Chengdu and 20km south to Mount Qingcheng. It is not yet a tourist town at present in 2015. The town is small that you can walk through within 30 minutes. It is a bit messy and dirty because it is in an authentic way an old Chinese town normally is. These facts of Yuantong Old Town made it much less popular than its neighboring old town named Jiezi, which is big, cleaner, and of course touristy.
First settlers to Yuantong date back to 1500 years ago and the town flourished by the end of Qing Dynasty as an industry town making pipes and potteries. It was also one of the main commercial dorks in Chengdu during Qing Dynasty.
Aside from the similarities shared by many old towns in Chengdu, for example, old streets, old trees and old houses, there is also an old Catholic Church in Yuantong. It was built by French preachers in the 19th century and survived through the turbulent history until today.
By old constructions, it really means old constructions. You can actually tell the majority of the houses there in the town were from no late than Republican China, which is about 100 years ago. Given that there were lots of destructions in every period of time in China; Yuantong Old Town is well preserved.
In the street people still conduct their daily life probably as they used to. People make clothes using the machine that was used 30 years ago, to cut the papers in a very bizarre way, a way that might be used by them for decades. You may also see the curiosity or surprise on some of their faces when they see a visitor walking by their front door.
However, local people have decided to try to copy what people did to Jiezi: building higher and bigger traditional landmarks, refurnishing the streets and probably will move out the original residents and introduce more businesses. So it is estimated the town is probably going to change a lot in the next few years.
Wondering at Huanglongxi Old Town is not only a treat for the eyes but also an adventure for your stomach. Every now and then we travel to different places in the world and stop at some place to do something more adventurous. The following is a brief introduction of the local food at Huanglongxi Old Town near Chengdu.
Sesame Cake is a traditional local snack in Huanglongxi. According to the town’s history books, in the old times, the cakes were used as mainly tributes sending to the royal families and the local cakes with sesame flavor at Huanglongxi are very popular among young and old people. The cakes are still playing as a necessary part of tea drinking. It has gain official recognitions many times.
Yellow Catfish (Huanglading)
Yellow Catfish is one of the most popular food in Chengdu, the yellow catfish here at Huanglongxi are one of the best. The Chinese name for this yellow catfish is Huanglading, literal translation being yellow spicy pestle. All the Yellow catfish were taken from the Jin River and Luxi River nearby. They are about 4 to 5 inches. There are two ways of making these fish. One is to add local green and red pepper with coriander to make fish soup, very spicy and good looking in color. The other one is to add lard, water, salt to also make soup, less spicy.
Brown-skin Pig Foot
Brown-skin pig foot is favored by women because they believe it is good for their skin. The pig feet made here are in a color of brown, which is a little more beautiful. And many other places have copied the way people in Huanglongxi making the pig feet.
Pearl Bean Curds
It is also called Shimo bean curds, meaning bean curds made by stone mill. They changed the name into pearl bean curds because they look like pearls when they are made. It is considered very tasty as it is among the best of bean curds.
The baby fish look small and so they are called baby fish or small cat fish. They are basically a very common river fish found in the rivers. The way of making these fish is usually to deep fry the starch pasted fish until they look golden. They are very good side dishes for wine or beer drinkers. Sometimes the river shrimps are also called baby fish and also fried altogether with the other fish. And they are usually made very spicy and crisp.
One Single Noodle
When you are eating noodles, you are not eating noodles, you are eating a noodle. This one single noodle was invented by local Huanglongxi people from Song Dynasty and has gained its fame around here. The taste is similar to other Chinese noodles but the way it looks and the way it was made are very interesting to look: A full bowl of noodle has actually just one piece but very long. You need to be very careful not to break it!