It never occurred to me that I would travel to Xuehudong Village, a place I’ve never been to or heard of before, until it was mentioned by someone around me occasionally.
When driving on the twisting mountain roads and overlooking the Li River through window, I first experienced the high altitude of the village. But the spectacular view of towering peaks and verdant tea gardens swept away my fatigue and disappointment along the way. The spring scenery here is worth the visit.
The villages of Hongjiaguan township in Sangzhi County are usually located in the steep valleys or rolling mountains with little flat terrain, just like Xuehudong Village. The roads here wind its way across mountains and water, enveloped in mist and clouds all year round. Despite the ink painting-like scenery of Xuehudong Village, I was more attracted by the tea terraces.
It is Xiang Hongliang, first Party secretary of Xuehudong Village, who changed the village in the past three years. Without him, there would be no tea industry, no irrigation channels for rice, only some deserted terraces which were planted with coarse grains sometimes and life would be just as before. As a director of the Xuehudong Village Industry Office and first Party secretary of the village, Xiang Hongliang tried to develop a leading industry for the village.
Standing on the terrace, Xiang Hongliang looked at the misty peaks in the distance and thought: Isn’t it a good place to grow tea? Enlightened by the idea, Xiang Hongliang was determined to encourage villagers to transfer terraces, raise funds and introduce tea seedlings, embarking on a road to the integration of tea industry and tourism.
Although Xiang Hongliang was 56 years old at that time, he was still as energetic as a 36-year-old man. But only Xiang Hongliang himself knew how difficult to persuade villagers, attract investment and introduce tea seedlings. He always worked around the clock.
The villagers were deeply moved by the old cadre who was nearly 60 years old and about to retire but still devoted himself to finding a way out for the industrial development of Xuechudong Village. Many households signed the agreement for land transfer.
It has been three years since then. Now the tea seedlings have grown into sprouting tea trees in Xuehudong Village. Groups of female tea pickers are busy picking tea leaves.
As the spring tea is on the market, we can make a pot of tea. With pleasant fragrance and endless aftertaste, all the drinkers rave about the tea. Hard work always pays off. Standing on the ridge of the mountain, I looked at the green tea trees, as if each of them had turned into a moneymaker. Surely, from now on, this tea plantation will see a bumper harvest every year.
“If there is a need, I will continue to devote myself.” Before we left, Xiang Hongliang, who will be 60 years old next year, made an appointment with me to meet again at the golden tea garden in the next picking season.
I tore myself away from the village and the tea plantation, but full of expectation for the future.