We didn’t really have any plans to visit the wang family courtyard, I’m sure they were decent people and I’m sure their courtyard was nice but we’d just never heard of them. As it was, the courtyard is more like a huge town.
Our accommodation had an advert offering to take you there and to the Zhangbi village so we booked it.
The wang family courtyard was more like a town. It consists of five alleys, five fortresses and five ancestral halls. It has 231 small courtyards and 2,078 rooms, covering an area of 80,000 square meters (info taken from http://www.china.org.cn/travel/2012-05/18/content_25398867.htm).
It takes quite a long while to walk around the place, the buildings are all very impressive and they’re built in a style which is typical of other ones from round about the Qing dynasty.
To find out info about the place, it’s not the easiest, you can rent an audio guide but this is only in Chinese so your choice is to either read up or to learn the language. I’d recommend reading as I think the language would be really difficult to learn.
As for the Zhangbi village, we knew that it was a castle with underground tunnels so that’s why we wanted to see the place.
Initially, we just thought it was a castle but it’s a village where some people still live. At one point during our visit, we saw a herd of goats and a herd of sheep being taken down the cobblestone streets of the old village.
As we had booked our transport, we were a wee touch restricted for time but that was fine for us. The driver had allowed us more than enough time, we paid a bit extra to get a guide to take us round. As we were the only two English speakers, we had 1 guide to take the two of us round.
The guide spoke English very well and was able to take us round the village and show us parts and give us information that we wouldn’t have known about had we been on our own.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, the reason for us to go to the castle was mainly to see the underground tunnels. The were originally used to store food but there’s about 10 miles of tunnels and people lived and worked in these tunnels and their job was to defned the castles and the village.
In Edinburgh, there’s underground vaults under the old town and I would say it’s a similar idea. The network of tunnels and what they were used for is amazing.
With us having paid for a guide, we were able to pick up some more info and we were also able to not get lost undernearth the tunnels.