I recently visited Pengjia Village, where many Tujia ethnic people live. It’s well-known for its beautiful mountain scenery and it’s famous for its stilted building architecture here. But I, in fact, had never heard of it before coming to Enshi, so it was a completely new experience for me!
Pengjiazhai 彭家寨 is located in Enshi City in the Hubei Province. In the village you’ll find the ancient Tujia stilted buildings called Diaojiaolou. Because of its historical and cultural significance Pengjiazhai is included on the List of Outstanding Minority Villages. Entering the village is quite unique, because you need to cross over a bridge – it’s the only way in!
The Diaojiaolou Buildings in Hubei
Entering the village is unique – it’s inside a fenced in area (which I was surprised to see). Then to reach the village you must walk over a suspension bridge over the Longtan River. As you walk across the river you’ll see the Diaojiaolou buildings up ahead – I learned that the oldest stilted structure here is almost 200 years old. These diaojialou houses are usually three stories high, and are well suited for mountainous terrain because of how sturdy they are. The first floor is usually for storing firewood, the second floor is the living area, the third floor is for storing food and other provisions.
The village itself is not big but quite charming, and you can easily walk around in an hour or two. What made the visit particularly unique for me was a little eight year old girl who bravely approached me and begin chatting with me right away in China. Asking me where I come from, what I was doing here. She quickly brought me a denglou, one of the little lanterns hanging around the village. From that moment we were friends, and she became my guide around the village. She would follow me as I took photos of the bridge, as I walked up into the diaojiaolou, as I looked for the bathroom. We laughed and giggled about silly things. When I ate lunch she chatted with me, then a dancing party began. There’s a popular dancing style you’ll often see people doing here during live-stream videos.
The Tujia Ethnic People in Hubei
Hubei is home to many people form the Tujia ethnic minority. They will still hold traditional performances here, mostly involving special call-and-response love songs between men and women. I tried on some of the traditional Tujia clothing and met some of the lovely ladies here – their clothes are usually bright and colorful with many patterns and designs on them!
Visiting Pengjiazhai Village in Enshi, Hubei
It was a completely surprising day! I loved seeing this little village, but mostly I really loved interacting with the people here. The little girl who guided me through the village really just made my day. It was a nice reminder of how the people you meet on these travel journeys are what add more to your experience.