Source: China State Council Information Office
As Shushan Village in east China’s Jiangsu province woke up to another idyllic day, Wu Chen started bustling around the kitchen, preparing for a livestreaming show.
“Time for lunch, my friends!” said the 32-year-old entrepreneur facing his phone while hundreds of likes and comments popped up on the screen.
Home to 1,700 residents in about 370 households, the ancient village is tucked away in the mountains surrounding the city of Suzhou.
Wu used to work in Suzhou and made an annual income of some 100,000 yuan (about 14,164 U.S. dollars), which was enough for him to have a decent city life. But he kept thinking about his family’s 150 pear trees, 30 waxberry trees and a big tea plantation back in his hometown.
In early 2018, Wu resigned and came back to Shushan. He invested about 1 million yuan to renovate his two-story house into a homestay.
With a real boat “docking” against a painted wall to create a harmonious backdrop, potted plants delicately arranged in the yard and a fountain transformed from an old stone mill, Wu’s homestay impressed visitors and became an instant hit.
“Those are my original ideas,” he said. He designed everything from the decoration to the menu.
Wu’s entrepreneurial story inspired many young people to return to Shushan and start their own businesses. All of a sudden, the village that had been silent for so many years came to life once again.
In just a few years, the small village saw three hotels, 11 homestays and nearly 40 restaurants pop up. Leisure facilities like cafes, tea houses and book bars are now ubiquitous.
Tourism was inevitably affected by the COVID-19 outbreak in the first quarter. But the young entrepreneurs did not sit idly by. They chose to livestream their homestays and featured products on TikTok and WeChat to expand exposure.
Wu’s homestay hotel has reopened since March. His special recipes grew popular — one even has to book a meal at least two weeks in advance.
“What is a hometown? It is the place where you want to leave every day when you are a child but go back every day when you are grown,” said Wu Xuechun, Party chief of the village.
Now that young people have come back, the village has “woken up” and the sense of nostalgia is even stronger, Wu Xuechun said.