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Relaxing.

A relaxing place.

Relaxing.

A relaxing place.

Nuodeng village

Nuodeng is a well preserved village near Yunlong in a side valley of the Pi River Valley. Also Bai villages are always located in the valley this place is high up in the mountains build around an ancient salt well.

The village is well renowned for its salt and traditionally prepared ham. One can stay overnight in several of the traditional local houses.

Nuodeng.
Panorama of the Bai village of Nuodeng. Nearly all buildings are made using the rammed earth technique and adobe bricks on a foundation of non-cemented dressed natural stone. For a medium size picture click here. For the full size picture click here.
Nuodeng.
There quite some old family compounds in Nuodeng with nice decorations
Heavy transport in Nuodeng.
Heavy transport Nuodeng style

The village

Just north of Yunlong and where the Pi River makes a double bend looking like a Taiji symbol, a track leads across the bridge to the old village of Nuodeng.

Nuodeng village.
Nuodeng village seen from across the Pi River in the morning mist

Some young inhabitants realised that their village still had the unique look of a Yunnan mountain village that was not disfigured yet by modern buildings and vehicles and convinced their families to preserve the village. On initiative of these local inhabitants, the village is now protected.

The village is built in a narrow gap between the mountains around a salt water well. This well delivers the brine which the villagers use to produce salt. This salt and the local ham they produce (See below) and small scale tourism, adds to the meagre income they get from farming.

Till resent the isolated location of Nuodeng kept mass tourism away and the village still has a unique atmosphere. There are only a few little shops in Nuodeng and cars have to be parked outside the village; anyway there are no roads for cars in Nuodeng.

One can easily spend a day or two in Nuodeng climbing up and down the village and making hikes to the outlaying temples and viewpoints.

The Wanshou Palace

The Wanshou Palace (Longevity Palace) is actually the oldest temple of Nuodeng. In Daoism temples are often called a palace. The place is far from a palace, it is a ramshackle building with doubles as a private house. The main point is a wall stone with a sacred text on it. During the Cultural Revolution this stone was hidden in order to protect it. At the same time other gods entered the scene like Mao.

Explaining.
The old couple living in the "palace" enthusiastically show all the items in the little temple which doubles as their house. The plaque in the wall is the core of the temple and was hidden during the Cultural Revolution

Especially in rural area it is quite common to see Mao and other old leading communist honoured in a way as if they were gods.

Between the religious artefacts there are the pictures of the family of the couple.

Opposite the palace is the old Nuodeng Salt Tax Office which is now a meeting place for the retired people of Nuodeng.

Making joss sticks.
Making and selling joss sticks is the main source of income for the old lady at the temple
Mao.
Mao and some other gods on the altar of the Wanshou Palace
Pictures.
The religious artefacts are mixed with the family pictures in frames with their protective covers still on
Make your own joss sticks.
You can try it yourself but one will never be as good as the lady of the Wanshou palace

The upper temple complex

Climbing all the way through Nuodeng and well above Nuodeng village one comes to the upper temple complex.

The buildings have recently been renovated in near original stile. The temples were used as class rooms during and well after the Cultural Revolution.

The Nuodeng school is still located near this complex.

Dragon and Phoenix gate.
The Lingxin Gate or "Dragon & Phoenix" gate on the way to the temple complex
Confucius.
Confucius is his temple

Confucianism is an ethical and philosophical system developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius (孔夫子 or K'ung-fu-tzu, lit. "Master Kong"), 551–479 BCE.

Also Confucianism is not a religion many temples are dedicated to Confucius.

Confucianism focuses on the practical, especially the importance of the family, and not on a belief in gods or the afterlife.

Ceiling with Chinese Zodiac.
The whole ceiling of the Yuhuang temple with the depiction of the zodiac. See as well detailed pictures below

Yuhuang temple

This temple has an original ceiling with pictures of the Chinese Zodiac or Shēngxiào (生肖). What makes the pictures special is that the corresponding constellations are depicted with the animals.

The whole temple got renovated in recent years, luckely they didn't touch the original painted ceiling.

The old school at Nuodeng
The blackboard still reminds us that the temple once was used as school
Yuhuang Temple.
The exterior of the recently restored Yuhuang Temple
Constellation.
Zodiac
Nuodeng salt.
Brine being cooked into salt

Nuodeng salt

The salty water from the well is cooked till all water has evaporated and the clear white salt remains. This is done in the traditional way in large metal pans on a wood fire. The salt is pressed in cones for transport and sale.

Salt well.
Stone indicating that the salt well has been in use for more than two thousand years

Because of their salt Nuodeng was an important place on the ancient trade routes, even several of the bridges in the area are paid for with money from the salt trade.

Making salt at Nuodeng.
When nearly dry, and just a bit damp and thus sticky, the salt can be shaped into cones for sale
Nuodeng salt.
Form work and pestle and ready cones

Nuodeng ham

Nuodeng is well renowned for its excellent dried ham. Contrary to what one would expect Nuodeng ham is not overly salty despite of all the salt the village produces.

It is actually only slightly salted. The fresh ham is first bathed in locally produced alcohol after which it is salted and then cured for up to three years.

Nuodeng ham drying.
Nuodeng ham.
Nuodeng dry cured ham getting aged

Staying in Nuodeng

There are several guesthouses in Nuodeng.

Most are quite simple with bunk beds and outdoor facilities but recently a more luxurious guesthouse has opened as well.

While there one can absorb the relaxed atmosphere and experience life in rural Yunnan.

Most guesthouses offer food as well.

Nuodeng accommodation 1.
Nuodeng accommodation 2.
Nuodeng accommodation 3.
There are several families in Nuodeng that have created guest accommodation. It varies from the, for Nuodeng, relatively luxurious accommodation like in the pictures above to 'bring your own sleeping bag bunk beds'
Nuodeng food.
Visitors at a meal.
There are no real restaurants in Nuodeng but one can eat at some people's home. Order some hours in advance and they will cook you a delicious meal with Nuodeng ham, Nuodeng sausage and fresh vegetables
Nuodeng sausage.
Traditional Nuodeng sausage being cured
Nuodeng panorama.
The southeast side of Nuodeng village. For a medium size picture click here. For the full size picture click here.

Development

In recent years a renovation program was started in Nuodeng. First the central temple and the theatre got rebuild. In 2015 work started on the temple complex on the mountain behind the village. At the same time the access road to the village got enlarged and the parking place got extended. This means that Nuodeng is now in principal accessible for large tour busses and mass tourism. But given the isolated location and lack of accommodation for mass tourism and the absence of other tourist destinations in the area; the masses have not invaded yet.

Nuodeng taxi

When in Nuodeng we use a mule or two to transport our luggage up to the guesthouse. This because the pathways between the houses are very steep and it is a long clime all the way up to the guesthouse.

Mule carrying luguage.

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