Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Xi'An: Cave Homes

While visiting Xi'an, my family had a rather unique opportunity. We were invited by our guide, Raphael, to visit the ancestral home of his family. Carved into the side of a hill, this cave home, or yáodòng, had housed generations of his family. For hundreds of years, these cave homes have been popular dwellings in Shaanxi province due to the ease of digging the earth as well as a lack of other building materials.


Our guide's cousin and family still call this humble, hand dug cave their home. Though it also doubles as the local Mahjong parlor at night.


Inside the home, the whitewashed walls were adorned with calendars, family photos, and posters of cats. In recent years, revenue from the Mahjong parlor has even allowed the family to add electricity to their home.


We settled onto the kong, a bed which has been elevated to allow for a fire to burn underneath, and chatted with the family through broken Chinese and help from our guide. The family explained that in previous years, the back room had been used to store the family's livestock.


After profusely thanking the family for allowing us to visit their home, we ventured off for final leg of our Xi'An tour.

To arrange a tour of a cave home, contact:
Xi'An Day Tour
Raphael Wang


  1. Replies
    1. It was really fascinating and certainly makes for an interesting comparison to the houses in the US!

  2. Replies
    1. It was as well as very humbling. It's hard to imagine living in a cave with your sheep!


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