Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tolou, Fujian Province - Earthen Round Houses

We celebrated Father's Day by visiting the traditional homes of the Hakka's in western Fujian Province. It was about a 3 hour drive from Xiamen. For the first time, we left the island of Xiamen and headed for the 'mainland' - Xiamen is connected to China via four bridges.

There are many of these earthen homes throughout the region - story has it that the military establishment in the States thought these were missile silos. I suppose these military analysts were looking for things with such focus - it reminds me of the saying - trying to fit square pegs into round holes. Later, confirmation from 'tourists' - a husband and wife photographer undercover team sent to take ground pictures - finally put matters to rest. While I don't blame the analyst for jumping to conclusions - look at them, they certainly have unique architecture and we are blessed to have seen them.

Panoramic view of Fujian Tolou - Earthen Round Houses.

View from the road. There are several of these in the region - the above "4 Rounds and 1 Square" are symbolic of the region as well as the most "touristy" and most visited.

Video from mountain looking down.

Our good friend and host Rabin arranged for transportation - he drove as well as functioned as our tour guide. He is most generous - we are blessed to have met him at one of many English Corners we serve weekly here in Xiamen. Rabin works for a local bus/coach manufacturing company as a network administrator, and we certainly have lots to talk about regarding technology. He speaks and writes well in English.

Close-up of a Round House.

Rabin wit Hannah and David.

On the way up the mountains - they remind us of Western North Carolina, we saw acres upon acres of banana plantations. Since it is mountaineous, the ingenious locals worked the terrain via terraced farming - like steps carved into the mountains, to create flat regions for planting. As such, farming is labor intensive and farming equipment such as we use in the US, would be rendered inmobile. Rice farming is pervasive - rice beds must be covered with water in order to grow.

As the video shows, it is a busy place where local goods and goodies are displayed for sale - this is how they supplement their livelihood, selling their wares. The ground/first floor consists of individual rooms serving as kitchens - daily living for these vendors/dwellers is a never-ending cycle of selling their wares, punctuated with meals prepared in their respective kitchens. They have running water with drilled wells terminating in individual faucets, each strategically situated in front of their kitchen, sustaining their water needs.

The second, third and fourth floors are individual rooms for sleeping, with the top floor usually for storage. We were on the top floor.

Slanted? - Look carefully - are the supporting beams exactly at 90 degrees?

Gerda with local Hakka dweller/vendor. She displays her wares in front of her kitchen area - see door to the left of picture.

Inside view of a typical kitchen - it roughly measures 6' by 8' and so it is not a big area by any means.

Business is thriving - we bought some souvenirs to support the local economy!

Some of these earthen homes are not lived in - Rabin was able to show us one that is abandoned - dilapitated as you can see in the picture below. While some have chosen to stay, others have left for the cities in search of work - another cog in the mass migration of the Chinese people leaving rural areas for the big cities. This mass migration is unprecedented in modern history, though recently, because of the worldwide economic slowdown, retrenched city workers have no choice but to return to their native rural lands.

Gerda wanted to do this - she almost walked on water!

There are many homes near the river - I hope the water level doesn't rise more.....

If the water level goes up more, it make take the van with....

These buildings are near the earthen homes and it reminds me of the movie - Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon.

We had lunch at this place - Rabin made sure it was appropriate - he interviewed the owner, made sure the prices were reasonable and checked out the kitchen as well. We didn't want any surprises. The Chinese character meant 'Restaurant'.

Tofu Pork - we liked it.....

Duck Egg Omelet - it was excellent!

Rabbit Stew

I know what you must be thinking - no we did not have rabbit stew - I did this to see if you were paying attention. Actually these albino rabbits were in a basket on one of the floors of the earthen home - honestly we do not know why they were there - we can only hope they were pets belonging to some families. The Chinese are known for eating any thing on four legs except for a chair and anything that flies except for an airplane.

1 comment:

  1. I want to visit China. Looks like you guys had fun. The pitures are great!