Even though it was planned to visit Luocheng old town, it is still a surprise. 4 years ago in Leshan, Sichuan, took the highway from Yibin, passing Jianwei County. Didn’t known the boat-shaped old town was so close. It is a small unnoticeable town in the southeast side of the Sichuan Basin. In history, it was an important military base. In Ming and Qing dynasty, the Yingpan Mountain in the east was the “military base” to protect against the intruders from the boarder. Till now, the old streets have preserved the old styles from the Ming and Qing dynasty.
Luocheng Old town is located in an oval mountain top. The main street is in a boat-shape, where the east and west are longer, the south and north are shorter. It looks like the shuttle in a loom. This is why some people call it “the shuttle in the clouds”. It is told if you observe from the height, it looks like a big boat that landed on the mountain top. After 300 years, it still maintained its boat-structure. It is called the “Noah’s Ark in China”. I was thinking about shooting pictures in the sky. But Capital Li said: we might need approval for shooting pictures in the sky. Unfortunately, we have to give up. Instead, we took a picture on the second floor of the Lingguan Temple.
The street is the bottom of the boat, the houses on the sides are the ship’s sides. The theater in the middle is the body of the ship. The stone poles in the east is the poles for the boat. And the Lingguan Temple looks like the tail of the boat. The cross street on the right side of the Lingguan Temple looks like the rudder, which formed the “boat-shaped” street.
The boat-shaped architecture style belongs to the traditional wooden structure of South Sichuan Resident. On the both sides of the street are the long wooden houses. The eaves on the side of the street are extremely wide, forming the rare long hallway – “cool hallway”. The supports are the hundreds of roundwoods on the stone pole. In the winter, it provides shade for rain and snow; in the summer, it prevents against the strong sun, knowing as the “Sunny and Rainy Market”.
There are 7 minority groups living in the town: Han, Hui, Yi, Man, Zang, Li, Miao nationality, among which, Hui nationality is the largest besides Han nationality. There is no record that when they have moved to here. Because of the long history, they have used to the custom of Han nationality. But, Hui people loves to eat beef, which evolved into the delicious beef soup that is a local signature cuisine.
Walk from the tail of the boat to the middle, the theater is located in the middle section of the boat-shaped street. The decoration is simple but delicate. The widest part of the street is the body of the ship. When it is holiday, people will gather to the body parts of the street, or the wide eaves to see the performance of the Sichuan Opera.
In the memory of the 85-year-old people, the name of the “Luocheng” has a story how it comes: it is said in the end of the Ming dynasty, there are two house under the tree. The owner’s last name is Ou, providing exchange places for nearby farmers to sell and exchange, which is called “exchange market”. Later, the products for exchange has expanded to salt, iron, cloth, rice, oil and others. Ou has built a few more houses for hotel, beverage store, forming a full functioned market.
Different than the Yangjiawan nearby, Ou named the places “Four Direction” because the businessman here comes from East, South, North, and West. The combination of “Four Direction” is “luo”. In Ming dynasty, farmers are called “earth people”, and the market is built by their hard work, meaning city. Therefore, the name “Luo Cheng” is formed.
Luocheng old town is not close to river or lake, there was drought each year. In the end of the Ming dynasty, a scholar had an idea: “Luocheng has drought a lot, it is hard for the businessman to stay longer. In order to get more water, build Luocheng into a boat.” Thus, the scholar had led a hundred of craftsmen, rebuilding the house. In less than 3 years, the big “boat” was completed. The nearby counties heard that there was a boat built on the top of the mountain, people came here to admire the miracle. And Luocheng got busier. Told by the 86-year-old man.
For the hundreds years, locals drink, eat meat, drink alcohol, listen to the music, smokes under the “cool hallway” without concerning about the rain or the sun, enjoying the all the relaxing moment in the world. The old stores like, Sanyuan, Fengtai, Heng again, Four Talent, Long Live and others, are still busy.
Locals still like to call a few friends to play card in the “cool hallway”. They can spend an afternoon with a tea cup of Qingxi jasmine tea, and the cards. They said, if they didn’t spend time on the boat-shaped street drinking tea and playing card, the day is wasted!
Farmers sells fruits and vegetables, while playing card. For business, it is all up to the buyer.
During the lunch, the family will sit in the “cool hallway” to eat and watch the people passing by. Many old people will smoke there and enjoy themselves very much. The leaves cigarettes are the favorites of the folks in Sichuan. In Qing dynasty and late, they were processed and sold widely in the capital city. Even though many people there smokes cigarettes, there are still a lot of old Sichuan people who likes the leaves cigarettes. It has strong smokes, but lower level of nicotine.
Cold noddle is the featured food in Sichuan, which is now popular all over the country. Here, you can taste the most authentic handmade traditional cold noodle. The main ingredients are the green bean powder, or bean mixed with the best ratio, adding water and stirring. Heat up the pot, mix with the spoon, until the starch is transparent, sticky and formed.
Using the colander to make the cold noodle drop slowly. In the bottom of the bowl, put appropriate amount of salt, then pour the cold noddle into the bowl, add a spoon full of minced meat with oil, add some vegetables, pepper and spicy oil, you can eat it while walking on the street. This is the taste of old Sichuan.
Luocheng old town transportation: It takes about one and half hour to go to Luocheng from Le Shan. From Chengdu, taking Chengle highway to Luocheng will take about 2 and half hour. From Zigong to Luocheng, it takes about 2 hours. No ticket required for the old town.