With a three-day plan, a small group consisting of four members of the Chinese Language and Culture Centre (CLC) as well as seven Chinese language learners left Zhuhai to visit the famous Fujian Tulou buildings. CLC Associate Professor, Dr Jenny Cui, along with CLC Lecturer, Ms Candy Cai, as well as CLC Instructors, Ms Liu Chunhua and Ms Wang Wenqian, arranged and organized this adventure.

The main attraction for this trip was to see and experience a Tulou and its community. A Tulou is a large building, constructed with “load-bearing rammed earth-walls” and used as residence by a community. Neighbours helped each other and united to defend against attackers. They were mostly built between the 12th and 20th century. Nanjing Tulou, located in Fujian province, is a type of unique rural dwelling of the Hakka people.

A Tulou

Becoming local

A bus collected participants and went from Zhuhai to Shenzhen where they got to enjoy the fantastic Shenzhen CBD Book Mall and its beautiful surroundings before catching a high speed train to Zhangzhou in Fujian province. Once the group had arrived, they were greeted by a coach that took them to a popular restaurant in Zhangzhou to try the local food. There were all types of chicken, duck, and a vast array of local vegetables cooked in the traditional Fujian style. The vast majority favoured the wuxiang roll (also known as five-spice meat roll). Wuxiang roll is essentially a composition of various meats and vegetables as well as other ingredients.

The following day started early with a visit to a local Tulou in the area which still had residents living in it. The group was free to roam the Tulou and see how life was there. The residents lived in one small room, which originally was designed for a family. There was also a water well that was still fully operational in the centre court of the Tulou. Well-fed chickens ran around like local security, enjoying the warm weather that had blessed this trip.

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Inside a Tulou

Landmark buildings

The group then got on a small bus to head to the Fujian Tulou Landmark Building. This World Cultural Heritage site consists of a square Buyun Building and the circular Zhenchang Tower, Ruiyun Building, Hechang Building and Wenchang Building. It is known as the “four dishes and one soup” or “the UFO that fell out of sky”.

These Tulous are collective known as “four dishes and one soup” due to their designs

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Many locals living in the Tulous sell tea and souvenirs to tourists

The group also had the chance to visit the Yuchang Building, which was known as the “zigzag” building because of its crooked wooden posts. It was built between 1308 and 1338 and has a history of more than 600 years making it the oldest earth building in Nanjing County, with villagers still living in it.



The scenery

One of the more popular parts of the trip with the group was the stroll through Taiji Water Village, where they got to experience the infinite charm of nature. The crystal clear water, beautiful greenery and the charm of the village made this one of the more special parts of the trip as the group strolled through and took in the scenery.

On the third day, the group were taken early in the morning to the Huaiyuan Building, which was built in the Qing Dynasty. Covering an area of 1,384 square meters, this Tulou was originally constructed for the Jian family. The building is 13 meters high and 38 meters in diameter, with 34 rooms per floor, and a total number of 136 rooms. It is a well-protected, double-ringed, circular, earthen building with people still living in it even today.

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The group also got to see the He Gui building, which was founded during the reign of Emperor Yongzheng in the Qing Dynasty (1732). This is the highest earthen building in Nanjing. This earthen building was built on a marshland, piled with more than 200 pieces of pine wood, and it is still stable and well preserved after more than 200 years. Later, the group got to take a nice stroll through the Yunshuiyao Ancient Town where they got to see the filming sites of famous Chinese movies ‘The Clouds, Waters’, ‘Lu Binghua’ and ‘Frequently Going Home’. The group took a leisurely walk along the creek and walked along the ancient Yunshui Road to experience the tranquility and leisurely life of ‘Xiaoqiao liushui’ and the thousand-year-old banyan trees.

The He Gui building

The group at the Yunshuiyao Ancient Town

The group then returned back to Shenzhen via the fast train, where a shuttle bus waited to take them on the final leg of the journey back to Zhuhai.

Reflections: “A completely different side of China”

CLC Associate Professor, Dr Jenny Cui explained that “China has a long history as well as diversified cultures. Fujian Tulou is not merely particular building styles, but also represents an ideal of living together of traditional Chinese people.”

ELC Foreign Intern, Brittany Carciofini, who participated in the trip, said “I thought the Fujian trip was a great chance to learn more about Chinese culture. Before this, I had no idea such buildings existed, so it was interesting to see the way some people live and organize their life in the Tulou. The countryside was also very beautiful and refreshing.”

Another participant on this trip was ELC Foreign Intern, Thomas Neaves, and he explained that “The Fujian trip was a great way of seeing a completely different side of China, it’s no wonder the area is protected as a UNESCO heritage site”.

Reporter: Samuel Burgess (MPRO)
Photographers: Wang Wenqian (CLC)
Editors: Deen He, Samantha Burns (MPRO)
(with special thanks to the CLC and the ELC)