“Well there’s a small boat made of China that’s going nowhere on the mantelpiece” – Neil Finn.
When I was young we used to hear about “China” and there was even a phrase that went “he’s like a bull in a China shop”. I’m talking about China. Not the country. But the ceramic, porcelain, material that the word China has also been used to describe, including in the Crowded House song “Weather With You”, penned by the Finn Brothers in 1991. And in keeping with its name, yes, China is made in China (ok not all of it), but on my recent visit to the Jiangxi Province, I ended up in the most real China China Town of them all. A little known city by the name of Jingdezhen. This is China Town.
There is more China made in Jingdezhen than there is in the rest of China alone (you might have to check that fact though, if you can!). Jingdezhen is also so untouristy it’s unbelieveable. I’d actually bet that most reading my blog haven’t heard of Jingdezhen. I myself, also hadn’t heard of it until I started researching Jiangxi Province. And that my friends, is good enough reason for you to head there! I love off the wheaten craic (off the beaten track) stuff and Jingdezhen has it!
So China’s porcelain is made in Jingdezhen. The city (which it is – it houses a staggering 1.7 million people!!) is proud of its ceramic roots and ceramic examples and references are evident all over the city. China is everywhere on the streets and I was shocked that 1.7 million people live here. It is known as the “Porcelain Capital” because it has been producing Chinese ceramics for at least 1,000 years, and for much of that period Jingdezhen porcelain was the most important and finest quality in China. The city has a well-documented history that stretches back over 2,000 years.
Getting to Jingdezhen
The easiest way is by bus from Nanchang. Head to Nanchang bus station and board a bus to Jingdezhen. Be sure to write the names of the places in Chinese when booking tickets! Our bus was 79 RMB each and took around 3 hours. You can also get there by train, which is slower. Apparently Jingdezhen also has an airport, arriving by air would certainly be interesting! Would that China crack on landing? Trust me though – get the bus!
Things to do in Jingdezhen
1. Admire the Ceramics in “Porcelain Street”
Walk around the shops selling and displaying their proud ceramic products on a street which is literally known as “Porcelain Street”. You can take as many photos as you want but just don’t break anything!
2. People’s Square
This wide open square and park is popular with locals for family and get togethers. A good place to relax on a day out. There are a few large ceramic models displaying the pride within the city of its most famous product.
3. Yaoli Scenic Area
Waterfalls, a forest and Huizhou architecture make Yaoli a popular trip out of the main city of Jindezhen. Old style buildings, countryside and mountains, on the border between the town Chinese Provinces of Jiangxi and Anhui. We backpacked loads of these places.
4. Jingdezhen Ceramic Museum
We didn’t go in to the museum, it was good enough seeing so many ceramics on the street for me. But if you want a closer insight into the history and present day details on the ceramics then head to the museum. A bus tour will help organise it, here’s a good guide, including the address:
5. Countryside at Wuyuan
After getting your fix of Jingdezhen, head to the fantastic countryside in and around Wuyuan. It’s about an hour and a half from Jingdezhen. It’s absolutely stunning and I will write a lot more about it, already covered drinking wine in Xiaoqi, drinking coffee in Little Likeng and my trip to Jiangling here.
Without further ado, that’s all there is to it. Jingdezhen despite being the famous home of China is merely a typical Chinese city which has been successful and makes money. It does ok with tourism from the Chinese, but there aren’t many (any) foreign tourists about really. It’s communist China to the core at heart and will probably not make you want to live there forever. However – that’s not the point. Go there to check it out and move on. I loved it. A special memory. And another travel moment to “tick off”. I have now been to the REAL CHINA TOWN. Epic.
My videos from Jingdezhen: