Fujian Tulous Part 2: Tianluokeng, Hegui Lou, Yun Shui Yao, Huaiyuan Lou Dec 2015

Tianluokeng Tulou Cluster (田螺坑土楼群) translates to “Snail Pit” is one of the better known tulou clusters in Fujian.  It is nicknamed “Four dishes with a soup” in Chinese because of the four round buildings surrounding a center square one.  These tulous were built between the Yuan Dynasty and the 1960s.  We were first taken to the lower viewing platform and then to the upper viewing platform from where there is a path leading down into the tulou cluster.

DSCF0213Tianluokeng Tulou Cluster from the lower viewing platform.

DSCF0223Tianluokeng Tulou Cluster from the upper viewing platform.

DSCF0259Most tulou clusters are set amongst agricultural terraces.

DSCF0264Drying herbs, seeds, and mustard greens

We went inside three of the five tulous here at Tianluokeng and had a leisurely lunch inside the oval Wenchang Lou.

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DSCF0268Little girl having her lunch next to the well inside Wenchang Lou.

DSCF0271Most of the people who still live inside these tulous are the old and the very young.  Oftentimes, the young adults work in the cities leaving their children in the countryside with their parents.

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DSCF0273Many orchards in the area

DSCF0280The pomelos here are huge!

After lunch, we went on to visit Hegui Lou (和贵楼) which is the tallest of the rectangular shaped tulous and is built on swampland.  It is amazing how this massive structure is still standing after 200 years over marshy swamps.  I was told by the guide that the feng shui here is very suitable for this family clan so even though it is difficult to build on swampland, they still went ahead with the construction.  At this point, I was a bit “tulou out” already.

DSCF0287Hegui Lou

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DSCF0293Square dancing or plaza dancing is the daily exercise routine of middle-aged to retired women in China.

DSCF0298The main well inside the tulou.  Some tulous have individual wells inside the ground floor rooms.

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In every tulou we visited, there are many shops selling tea and the shopkeepers always invite you to sit down and try some tea.

DSCF0038Local orange tea made of tea leaves stuffed into emptied-out oranges and then aged.

After numerous cups of tea, we went on to visit Yun Shui Yao (云水谣) which literally translates to “The Song of the Clouds and Waters”.  It is a tranquil ancient village where the film of the same name, “The Knot” in English, was shot.  There are many beautiful old banyan trees along the riverside and taking a walk through the village gives you a glimpse at what country life in China is like.

DSCF0323Yun Shui Yao

DSCF0344Yun Shui Yao

DSCF0333Old banyan trees in Yun Shui Yao

DSCF0371Tea stands along the brook in Yun Shui Yao

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Following the path along the brook from Yun Shui Yao, we arrived at the last tulou we will visit on this trip – Huaiyuan Lou (懷遠樓).  Huaiyuan Lou is built in 1909 and is one of the best protected double circular tulous in the area.  Like in other tulous, the ancestral hall is placed in the center.

DSCF0409Huaiyuan Lou amongst lush vegetable fields

DSCF0411Huaiyuan Lou

DSCF0414Double concentric circle of Huaiyuan Lou

DSCF0426Local residents starting to prepare for dinner.

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It was a wonderful experience visiting the Fujian countryside to see these amazing buildings from hundreds of years ago and getting a glimpse of, albeit a short 3 days, the culture and daily lives of the Hakka people living in these structures.

 

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Anjar July 2018

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