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September 19, 2023  People's Daily  

Village Cafe in Qinling Mountains Emerges as Tourism Hotspot

Story;Innovative Poverty Alleviation Initiative;Tourism;Shaanxi Province;Cafe

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This photo taken on June 20, 2023 shows staff working at a village cafe at Liyukou Village, Huyi District of Xi'an City, northwest China"s Shaanxi Province.(Xinhua/Sun Zhenghao)

For farmer Song Naihong, July and August are usually a slack period after the summer harvest. However, she rarely has time to relax.

Wearing a vest-style uniform with a badge bearing her English name "Emily," she skillfully operates the bean grinder and coffee machine at the Two Tree Coffee in northwest China's Shaanxi Province, and completes the latte art within 10 seconds.

Song, 45, has been growing wheat and corn for half her life, but she now also works at the cafe located in the Liyukou Village of Huyi District in the city of Xi'an. It mostly serves city dwellers who come to the Qinling Mountains for leisure, although there are some villagers among the customers too.

"Cafes are very chic in the countryside," she said. "Since I became a barista, I feel younger, and every day is fulfilling."

The staff at the cafe are largely recruited from the village. More than 10 workers like Song farm during the busy season, and put down their hoes to make coffee in their spare time.

Covering an area of about 1,000 square meters, the cafe was once a disused factory. It now has huge portraits of village sages hanging inside and a movie screening room. Behind the cafe is the verdant, cloud-shrouded Zhongnan Mountains, part of the Qinling Mountains, an area famous for its hermit culture since ancient times.

The cafe, about 50 km from Xi'an, was established by Wang Huiting who received her doctorate from Xi'an University of Architecture and Technology. Wang moved to the village in 2019 to start her business, driven by her love of the beauty of the Qinling.

Since it opened in October 2022, the store quickly went viral on social media. "You need to wait for a seat to get a beverage during peak traffic on weekends," said Wang.

To cater to local tastes, the cafe offers dishes blending the characteristics of various locations, including the coffee with Tianpeizi (sweet and sour soup made of fermented oats) and pizza with leek and egg toppings.

The popularity of the cafe is largely due to the boom in cultural and ecological tourism in the Qinling Mountains in recent years, combined with the government's efforts at environmental preservation.

In recent years, the Chinese government has strengthened the long-term protection system and mechanism of the Qinling Mountains, and adopted measures such as the establishment of the five-level forest chief system. More and more urban residents, especially those from Xi'an, are attracted to the mountain villages as venues for slow-paced vacations.

Wang visited many places before deciding to build the cafe here. "Cafes are among the favorite businesses of young people, and they provide a strong sense of contrast when they appear in the countryside," she said. "People come here not only to consume coffee, but also to 'pay' for the green ecology of Qinling and the pastoral environment."

In front of the cafe is a tourism highway, which connects the store with many artistic villages along the mountain range. Art helps the villages to become more fashionable and livable, while retaining their natural beauty.

Wang Lijun, Party chief of Liyukou, said that he has been surprised by the success of the cafe, which he did not expect to be so popular at first.

"The revenue of the village has increased, our views on the village's future development have been enriched, and the ideas of the villagers have been updated," he said. "Under the influence of the cafe, more than 10 young people have participated in the rural construction projects here."

Li Hua, Party chief of Huyi, said that promoting the construction of a beautiful China requires properly handling the relationship between high-quality development and high-level protection.

"We must be guardians of the ecological environment. Only by protecting the ecology can we promote the harmonious coexistence of humanity and nature," Li added.


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