Ms. Pan's Guesthouse

As Pan Qingqing sips on a traditional Chinese tea, she glances out the window of her mountaintop guesthouse. The view is splendid with billowing clouds and valleys, and this is swiftly followed by laughter and loud chatter in the guesthouse where she is right in the middle of a jovial conversation with her guests who have made the trip to the Xiangjian village in the southern city of Hangzhou.


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The 44-year-old is one of many in Lin'an District to have built guesthouses to attract more visitors from home and abroad. For her, this is an opportunity to bring changes to her hometown. And her plans have been supported by the Hangzhou government.

The key to this change has been to combine the local surroundings with the arts to create something fresh where you wouldn't expect it. And the guesthouses like Ms. Pan's brings the two together.

Bigger than life-size installations of bamboo art now decorate the halls. When guests sit down for an afternoon tea and food, cups and cutlery sets made from local bamboo wood don the tables. Ms. Pan has been inviting artists to come and showcase their mastery.

However, it wasn't all plain sailing at the start. After studying in France, she finally chose to come back to Lin'an. And even though she left all those years ago as a child, no one could deny how special the place was to her.

But as things would have it, Ms. Pan's father, an experienced tourism operator, opposed the guesthouse plans. He sighted poor accessibility, small population, and an underdeveloped economy in the area as potential pitfalls. Nevertheless, she saw differently. She wasn't deterred. She believed in the changes her guesthouse would bring.

And now, she is hosting a variety of events throughout the year. Recently, she launched a bamboo art exhibition. The bamboo artist was able to teach local villagers how to weave locally-sourced bamboo artworks. Just recently as October, at the tail-end of local rice harvest season, she gathered young agricultural entrepreneurs to taste the new rice and exchange their products to promote their hometowns. 

So, Xiangjian village is just the tip of the iceberg. It represents this innovative take on how to build tourism in rural Hangzhou. In this video, British host Josh went to visit the guesthouse and see the transformation of villages in Hangzhou through nature and modern arts. The video was filmed and produced by China Matters.

 

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