Mylene Mathieu (L) tosses chilies in Huangling Village, Wuyuan County of east China's Jiangxi Province, Aug. 8, 2023. (Xinhua)
NANCHANG, Sept. 9 (Xinhua) -- On a scenic platform offering panoramic vistas of traditional grey-and-white Chinese buildings nestled among lush trees, Mylene Mathieu, who is from France, extended her arms, grasping a broad bamboo sieve with hands, tossing red chili peppers up and down.
Tossing is a procedure aimed at properly drying agricultural products, such as chili, corn, and peanuts, for longer preservation. The common rural practice is also part of Mathieu's myriad countryside experiences on her trip to Huangling Village, Wuyuan County of east China's Jiangxi Province.
Mathieu, who moved to Beijing earlier this year after more than seven years of studying Chinese, shares her daily life experiences on social media, and has gained tens of thousands of followers in just months. Her trip to Huangling turned out to be a unique experience.
"This is my first time coming to a Chinese village, and I didn't expect to meet such a beautiful one," Mathieu said. She posted a video about the chili-tossing on her TikTok-like Douyin account, with a Chinese profile name translated as "French wife xiaobengbeng," alluding to her status as the spouse of a Chinese man.
Before coming to Huangling, Mathieu did not have high expectations. "I had this image of Chinese rural areas as old and remote," she said.
However, upon entering Huangling, she was immediately captivated by the village's blend of ancient charm and modern convenience. Traditional architecture intricately adorned the landscape, and wide, flat stone paths connected every corner of the village.
Mathieu was especially impressed with a local light festival showcasing folk customs.
"I had only seen light festivals in big cities before, but Huangling combines traditional folk parades with lights, preserving tradition while showcasing the charm of modern technology," she said.
This photo shows a light festival held in Huangling Village, Wuyuan County of east China's Jiangxi Province, July 9, 2023. (Xinhua)
She was also captivated by the village's operating model. Local villagers found meaningful employment within the scenic area, leading to a shared sense of happiness and prosperity.
"You can feel their happiness radiating from within. Under the village leadership, everyone shares the consensus to pursue happiness together in this picturesque place," she said.
In just a few years, Huangling transformed from a poverty-stricken village into a rural tourism hotspot. Villagers can rake in tourism-related income from sectors such as accommodation, catering, and transportation.
The average annual income per villager increased from 3,500 yuan (486.1 U.S. dollars) before tourism development to over 50,000 yuan currently, with some families earning over a million yuan annually through their involvement in the tourism industry.
Today, Huangling is gradually gaining global recognition. It had hosted international summits featuring rural tourism and formed alliances with tourist villages from around the world.