Discovering beautiful Fujian
These two articles were originally published in the Xiamen Ribao (廈門日報). The first article Discovering Beautiful Fujian is about a trip to Wuyishan, Qingyun Shan and the Chongwu Historical City. The second article West Fujian: Mountain Wonderland is about a trip to West Fujian.
Discovering beautiful Fujian
When people ask me where I am from and I say Australia they always tell me Australia is a beautiful country. I always reply that China is a beautiful country, too.
Often people are captivated by images of the far away and exotic yet fail to appreciate the beauty that lies on their doorstep. So when I recently had the opportunity to spend a week traveling around China I chose to travel around Fujian Province.
My journey began by taking the overnight train from Xiamen to Wuyi Shan (武夷山). While the beauty of Wuyi Shan is widely renowned it was difficult to appreciate why when I first arrived. It was raining and the legendary peaks where shrouded in cloud.
Fortunately the weather soon cleared and I was able to admire the fantastic scenery. It was easy to appreciate why Wuyi Shan is listed on the World Heritage register for both its cultural and natural values. It is not only the landscape which makes Wuyi Shan worth visiting. It is also home to historical sites such as the Xiamei village (下梅村) and the Han Dynasty capital of the Minyue (閩粵) Kingdom. The Wuyi Shan area is home to extraordinary biodiversity and well known for its abundance of snakes and insects.
After leaving Wuyi Shan I traveled to Yongtai County. My destination there was Qingyun Shan (青雲山), just 13 kilometres from the city of Yongtai. While perhaps it is not as well known as Wuyi Shan I think Qingyun Shan is equal in its beauty. Also the fact that it is less well known means there are less tourists there so you can easily experience the peace and tranquility in the midst of the fantastic landscape.
Next I traveled to Hui'an to visit the ancient city at Chongwu (崇武古城). I was very impressed by this beautifully preserved city in a spectacular seaside location. The city wall there has stood for over 600 years and it looks like it will easily stand for at least another 600 years. It was also great to see the skilled work of the local artisans in the many stone carvings. From Chongwu I returned to Xiamen. I was left with a wonderful impression of some beautiful places in Fujian Province.
The beauty of some places in China like Hangzhou and Yangshuo is known throughout the world. However, it is great to know there is also much beauty to be discovered on Xiamen's doorstep.
[first published in the Xiamen Ribao (廈門日報) on 12 April 2003]
West Fujian: Mountain Wonderland
West Fujian (閩西) is the home of the Hakka people (客家人) who are renowned for their hospitality. I recently spent a week traveling around the area and I can certainly say that the people are friendly and hospitable. This, along with the beautiful mountain scenery and numerous cultural and historical sights, makes West Fujian a mountain wonderland.
The first stop on my travels was Hongkeng Village in Yongding County. It is one of the best places for seeing the famous earth buildings (土樓). I had seen photos of the earth buildings before, but they were even more impressive in real life. While some of the largest round houses are perhaps the most famous, it is the sheer diversity of the earth buildings that makes them interesting. Every one is different and they can be found in a myriad of shapes and sizes.
Even more interesting is that they are still lived in, and while visiting them you can meet many of the people who live there. There seemed to be many people who were in their eighties or nineties and still active and healthy. I guess it must be the fresh mountain air and water.
Another thing that impressed me about the earth buildings was that even in the hot weather they remained comfortable and cool. They are excellent examples of sustainable building design.
After Yongding I headed to Changting, a pleasant place nestled in the mountains. The town contains a number of interesting historical sights, but the highlight of the area for me was visiting the town of Tufang. I was fortunate enough to find a local person who showed me around and helped me to discover many interesting and beautiful old buildings.
Then I went to Liancheng, famous for Guanzhai Shan with its strangely shaped rock formations and magnificent scenery. The most impressive thing I saw in Liancheng though, was the Yunlong Bridge (雲龍橋), a spectacular wooden- roofed bridge near the town of Luofang.
My final destination was the Anzhen Fort (安貞堡) near Yong'an. This spectacular fort is well worth visiting - if you can find it! Although it is just a few kilometres from the town of Jianshe, it is off the main road and hidden among the rice fields. The fort was built in 1885 and is still very well preserved.
The Anzhen Fort highlighted the fact that there are many attractions in West Fujian that are of great interest even though they aren't famous. I certainly hope to return there again.
提起閩西，您定會想到永定土樓、汀州古城、連城云龍橋。曾經的“紅土地”如今已 成為外國游客的新去處。山清水秀、民風淳朴，在外國游客看來，閩西是塊神奇的 土地。讓我們一起來分享一位澳洲小伙子的閩西之旅吧！
[first published in the Xiamen Ribao (廈門日報) on 2 August 2003]
David's Guide to Fujian & China
© 2003 David Reid