Grey DawnA stay at Amanfayun
The strokes of calligraphy adorning the walls mirror curved lines of tree branches outside
Morning prayer soars through the air like birdsong, steady and constant. As drums thrum and bells chime, the valley mist ebbs over bushels of tea, carrying their savoury scent across the wind. Amongst mountains and forests of bamboo, Amanfayun is just waking to a grey dawn.
Once a modest farming village home to tea growers, Amanfayun has found new life as a complex of 46 dwellings offering shelter in the UNESCO world heritage site of West Lake, China. Ancient paths pass restored pavilions, with original Jiangnan style rooms of dark stained wood and intricate latticework. Imbued with a sense of warmth, they gaze outwards onto humble courtyards and forest views.
The property seems to remain a village, self sufficient with Steam House and Vegetarian House restaurants – only a short walk from each other. Under vaulted ceilings of sophisticated carpentry, Chinese breakfasts are served.
Exploration of the site leads to a peaceful bamboo grove and a small, moss-engrained pagoda. Everything seems to respond to each other, as if in balance. The strokes of calligraphy adorning the walls mirror curved lines of tree branches outside. The tea pickers’ Dǒulì hats bow as if reflecting the slant of surrounding mountains. This connection is centuries old and unchanging, highlighting the quiet pleasure of simplicity.