Hakka Earthen Buildings Exploration Tour
- Explore the most extraordinary type of Chinese rural dwelling, the circular Hakka rammed earth buildings, otherwise known as the Fujian Tulou. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and you will also get to spend the night in one of these buildings
- Spend a pleasant day on Gulangyu Island, a serene pedestrian-only island filled with gardens, villas, and unique architecture
B=(Breakfast) L=(lunch) D=(dinner) DEPARTURE: Daily
Day 1: Beijing-Xiamen (by air) (L)
You will be taken to the Beijing airport, and from there you will take your flight to the city of Xiamen, in Fujian province, on the southeast coast of China. At the airport you will be met by our English-speaking guide, and we will then depart by steam-ship (round-trip) to our first attraction, Gulangyu Island. Gulangyu Island is renowned for its delicate natural beauty, its ancient relics, and its varied architecture. The island is on China's list of National Scenic Spots and also ranks at the top of the list of the ten most-scenic areas in Fujian Province. It is a car-free island, and is a welcome respite to the frantic activity of the Special Economic Zone just across the water.
On the island, we will visit Shuzhuang Garden, a former private villa. It became a garden park open to the public in 1955. It is divided into two parts-the Garden of Hiding the Sea (Canghaiyuan) and the Garden of Making-Up Hills (Bushanyuan). It was exquisitely designed to embody three important characteristics in gardening---hiding elements, borrowing from one's surroundings, and combining movements. We will also take a look at China’s only Piano Museum (housing over 200), the Hi Heaven Museum the largest old villa on the island where you can enjoy ancient South Music performance and traditional puppet show. If we’re lucky we can catch the local style of entertainment, Nanyin Opera.
You can spend the night exploring Xiamen at your own leisure. Various squares in the city provide popular nightlife venues for local people to stroll, chat, and do exercise. At the Egret Alluvion City Park, there will be musical fountain show at 8:00pm every day and singing and dancing performances during weekends. In the Huoshaoyu Islet (or Flaming Islet) Scenic Area, barbecues will be held at night and water-screen films will be on show sometimes.
Day 2: Xiamen-Nanjing-Yongding (B, L, D)
In the morning we will drive to Nanjing, the center for the Hakka earthen buildings. Hakka, literally, means 'guest' in Chinese. They are not an ethnic group like the Tibetans or Mongolians. Their nationality is Han. The ancestors of Hakkas used to live in central China and were forced to move southward due to wars, famine and for political reasons.
The earthen buildings of Hakkas are considered a wonder of oriental architecture. The buildings usually are formed as two or three circles. The outer circle can be as high as 10 meters (31 feet) and its four stories may hold between one and two hundred rooms. The kitchen and dining room will be found on the first or ground floor. The second floor is used as warehousing, and the third and fourth floors contain the bedrooms. The inner circle is 2-storied with 30 to 50 rooms which function as a guesthouse. In the middle is a rectangle hall, a public place for the several hundred inhabitants.
Our first stop will be at the Tianluokeng Earth Buildings Complex in Nanjing County. Tianluokeng Earth Buildings Complex is the Huang Family’s residence. The Earth Buildings are composed of one square building (Buyun Building), three circle buildings (Hechang Building, Zhenchang Building, and Ruiyun Building) and one oval building (Wenchang Building). The square building Fangyun Building sets in the middle while other four buildings surround it. The buildings scatter and interlock according to the lie of the mountains. If overlooked from a higher place, the buildings look like blooming plum blossoms embellished on the earth embraced by the mountains. While look up them from the foot of the mountains, it occupies a mountainside position, looking down the world like the Potala Palace. As a combination of exquisite constructions, Tianluokeng Earth Buildings Complex is a perfect landscape with the connection of cultural and natural elements and is acclaimed as the peak of perfection.
At the complex we will wander around and take a peek at the daily lives of these fascinating peoples. We will then head to drive to Yongding, where we will spend the night in an authentic Hakka earthen building village that is known as a tulou. The tulou has a shape of an emerging mushroom, or of a falling flying saucer. In the Cold War, it was even believed by the Western countries, when examining some tulous, that is was used as China’s nuclear reactor!
Day 3: Yongding-Xiamne-Beijing (by air) (B, L)
We will spend half the day further exploring the Hakka earthen tulous. We will first visit the Zhencheng tulou. Zhencheng, popularly called Bagua, nad known as “the prince of tulou”, is a circular tulou built in the year 1912, the first year of the Republic of China. The building, consisting of two concentric circles of buildings, faces the south and covers an area of 5000 square meters. The outer circle, 4 stories in height with 2 halls and 44 rooms on each floor, is made of rammed raw earth and divided into 8 units by brick partition walls. However, as an inner through corridor layout, all neighboring units are connected via archway doors in the partition walls. There are all together 222 rooms (including halls) in the entire building. The inner space is magnificently designed, presenting a wonderful example of an earthen civilian residence that combines the Chinese style with the Western style of building. In May 2000, Zhencheng Lou was listed among the key cultural relics protected at national level.
We will then some more Hakka buildings, with Rusheng, Fuyu, Qujiu, Chenqi, and Jiqing buildings being among the highlights. The Chenqi tulou in particular is known as “the king of the tulou”, and has 370 total rooms. At its heyday it housed more than 80 family branches. The buildings are still inhabited by individual Hakka families and life goes on for them as usual. This will be an interesting chance to see daily life, Hakka style.
We will then drive back to Xiamen, and you will be taken to the airport, where you will fly back to Beijing.
Keely McKissak, Seattle, WA, USA:
Loved, loved, loved my time at the Hakka Tulous! As an amateur photographer being in this kind of scenery was incredible and the pictures I have from inside and outside the Tulous are phenomenal! I can’t wait to show my friends and family. While the Tulous are a little off the beaten path it is worth it to hire a guide and driver, and China Adventure Club did not disappoint. I also really enjoyed Xiamen, which gave me a different example of Chinese life that I haven’t seen before.