West Fujian travel notes
The following notes are based on a one week trip around west Fujian (閩西 Minxi) in July 2003. I have arranged the notes by county. There is a general description of each place visited followed by logistical information about transport, entry fees and anything else of importance.
West Fujian is home of the Hakka people (客家人) who are renowned for their hospitality and I can certainly vouch for it. Everywhere I went people were very friendly and helpful. While most of the places I visited are known tourist attractions they see very few foreign visitors. The roads in the area are generally reasonable and continually being improved. I only touched the tip of the iceberg during my visit and I am sure there are many other interesting places in the region waiting to be discovered.
YONGDING COUNTY 永定縣
Earth buildings (Tulou 土樓)
Yongding is famous for its earth buildings and round houses. I use the word earth buildings (土樓) rather than round houses (圓樓) because while some of the buildings are round there are also many other earth buildings which are square, rectangular, D-shaped or semi-circular. Earth buildings can be found in parts of Fujian and Guangdong provinces, but the largest concentration and some of the most spectacular buildings are in Yonding County. The earth building technique can be seen throughout western Fujian, but in Yongding the technique is employed on a grand scale.
The Hongkeng village (洪坑村) is the main centre for tourist activity with its showpiece being the Zhencheng Lou (振成樓). You can spend some time wandering around the village. All the buildings are still lived in—they aren't just historical relics. They are excellent examples of ecologically sustainable building design (生態永續建築).
About five kilometres from Hongkeng village is Chengqi Lou (承啟樓) which is the largest of the earth buildings. It is almost three hundred years old and is made up of three concentric circular buildings. The area around Hukeng town (湖坑鄉) has many earth buildings in various shapes and sizes as well as beautiful rural scenery.
Logistics: Coming from Longyan (龍岩) there is no need to go to Yongding City. Take a bus direct from Longyan to Hongkeng Village (near Hukeng Town), which is the major centre for visiting the earth buildings. There are a number of basic hotels here, but it is possible to stay in an earth building. I recommend the Fuyu Lou (福裕樓). It is very clean and has good food. The cost is 50-60 yuan per night. Contact Mr Lin who can also act as a guide, but please note he speaks no English.
There is a 40 yuan entrance fee for the Hongkeng village although the ticket is valid for several days. There is also a 40 yuan entrance fee for the Chengqi Lou. Some earth buildings will ask for a donation of five yuan.
CHANGTING COUNTY 長汀縣
Changting City 長汀市區
Isolated by the mountains of West Fujian Changting is famous for several things. It is a homeland of the Hakka, various events associated with the Chinese Communist Party took place here in the 1930s and Changting girls are reputed to be among China's most beautiful.
The city is pleasant enough and it is worth spending some time wandering around and absorbing the various historical sights. Particularly worth a visit is Jianshe Street (建設街), where you can see old style buildings and traditional arts and crafts such as wood carving, furniture making and portrait painting. The Tingzhou Hakka Museum (汀州客家博物館) contains displays of various aspects of Hakka culture. More than half the museum though is devoted to China's revolutionary history.
South of the town is Chaotou Shan (潮頭山), a mountain with a number of temples and some excellent views of the city of Changting. In the city itself there is Wolong Shan (臥龍山) which also has a number of temples.
Logistics: There is a five yuan entry fee for the museum. There is a railway line under construction from Longyan to Changting so it will not be long before Changting becomes more accessible.
While it doesn't contain any official tourist attractions I was curious to visit this town after seeing a photo of the traditional style housing in the area in Bill Brown's book The Fujian Adventure. There is a model of this building in the Changting Museum. The design consists of buildings which all face a central courtyard and have a fish pond in the centre.
I found the building by showing the photo to people in the street, although many people seemed unable to identify it. Fortunately I found a university student home on vacation who knew where the building was. Surprisingly it was just a short distance from the town's ugly main street. The student who showed me around said there was a much more interesting example of this type of building further down the hill. He took me to see that building and several other buildings which were larger and more aesthetically pleasing than the first building.
Interesting fact: 80% of people in Tufang have the surname Tu (塗).
Logistics: Take a bus from Changting. It is difficult to find the buildings mentioned without a local person to show you around.
LIANCHENG COUNTY 連城縣
Peitian Historic Village 培田古民居
The village of Peitian was built during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. It covers an area of over 70,000 square metres. The village was built by wealthy families so it contains many halls of learning and beautiful artwork.
Logistics: Take a bus from Liancheng to Xuanhe (宣和) and then a motorbike the final few kilometres or take a bus to Wenfang on the main highway and then a motorbike for the ten kilometre trip to Peitian. There is an entry fee of 20 yuan.
Wenfang is a small town on the highway that you will pass through if you go to the Peitian Historic Village. Near the river you can find the former home of Xiang Nan (項南) who was the Communist Party secretary for Fujian. Inside the main hall of the home there is a series of posters detailing the life of Xiang Nan. Ask a local for directions.
Yunlong Bridge 雲龍橋
The Yunlong Bridge is a spectacular covered bridge near Luofang (羅坊) in Liancheng County. It is over 300 years old and is in excellent condition. Just nearby there is a large statue of Mazu.
Logistics: To get there take a Sibao bound bus from Liancheng and get off at the Luofang turn-off. You will need to take a motorbike to the bridge which is about ten kilometres from the turn-off.
Sibao has a Wood Block Printing Museum (四堡雕版印刷基地). The museum is quite small and may only be worth visiting if you speak Chinese or have someone who can interpret for you. The village also contains many well preserved old buildings and is similar in some ways to Peitian. There is also another covered bridge, the Yusha Bridge (玉砂橋), about two kilometres north of the town, although it isn't as large or impressive as the Yunlong Bridge.
Logistics: Get there by bus from Liancheng. There is a 20 yuan entry fee for the Wood Block Printing Museum.
Guanzhai Shan 冠豸山
Guanzhai Shan is just a few kilometres outside of Liancheng City. There area has many beautiful mountain views and weirdly shaped rocks. It is perhaps famous for two rocks known as the "Root of Life" (生命之根) and the "Door of Life" (生命之門) They are said to represent parts of the male and female anatomy respectively (use your imagination). There is also a rock that looks like a turtle and a rock that looks like an alligator. However, strangely shaped rocks aside, this is a great place to experience nature.
Logistics: To get there take a motorbike taxi for a few yuan from Liancheng. There is a 30 yuan entry fee for both Guanzai Shan and Shimen Lake.
YONG'AN COUNTY 永安縣
Taoyuan Cave 桃源洞
I expected this place to have a beautiful cave, but alas there was none (that I saw at least). However, it is a beautiful location next to the Wenchuan River (文川溪) and with mountain scenery similar to Guanzhai Shan, but on a smaller scale. The main highlight of the area is the “ray of sunlight” (一線天), a deep narrow crack in the rock which is just wide enough for people to walk through. On a hot day there is a wonderfully cool breeze blowing through it.
Logisitics: To get there catch any bus from Yong'an to Sanming (三明) and get off at Taoyuan Cave. The entrance is right on the highway. There is an entry fee of 32 yuan. If you are daring you can try the flying fox which traverses one of the valleys for 20 yuan.
Anzhen Fort 安貞堡
Despite its obscure location (it is totally surrounded by rice fields and cannot be seen from any road) the Anzhen fort is well worth visiting. It was built in 1885 and covers an area of 6,000 square metres with 360 rooms. The building is very well preserved, however some of the carvings were destroyed by the Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution.
Logisitics: The fort is located 2.5 kms from Jianshe (建設). You can reach Jianshe by bus from Datian or Sanming. From Jianshe there seemed to be no regular transport to the fort, but you can take a motorcycle for a few yuan. You can even walk there in less than half an hour. The fort is a little difficult to find. On the main road there is a sign to the fort in Chinese. You must then follow a stone path through the rice fields. It may seem like you are going nowhere, but after a few hundred metres you can see the fort. There is an entrance fee of 15 yuan.
Note: US$1 = 8.3 yuan, AU$1 = 5.5 yuan (as of July 2003). Yuan is the Chinese unit of currency and is also known as the Renminbi (RMB).
David's Guide to Fujian & China
© 2003 David Reid