Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Hakka Tulou The Best In Xiamen

In mid January 2015, my husband and I decided to give his China family another visit. His family lives in Longhai City. This time we made sure there were enough days to include a visit to Xiamen city as well. 

We booked a direct flight from Kuala Lumpur to Xiamen by Xiamen Airlines. It served food on board and lots of it. The airfare was not very cheap but at least the service was good. If you booked in advance you can get better rates which we did.
In Xiamen we stayed at 7 days hotel which is located quite close to the famous Zhongshan pedestrian road. The rooms on this hotel are located all on one floor. However to get to the reception you have to walk up 3 flights of staircase while lugging up your bags. A little price to pay for the location.
In Zhongshan pedestrian road you will find many souvenir shops as well as branded clothing. We stopped along a few shops and bought some souvenirs. We came across a restaurant that specialised in cuttlefish. We tried their curry cuttlefish ball noodle soup. 

Cherries were in season so we bought some for only RM25 per kilogram. The cherries were very sweet and freshing. We ended up eating 3 kilos by the end of our trip! At the end of street is the riverfront where the ferries are located and across the sea is Gulangyu Island. If we had more time, we would have made a trip to visit this resort island.

The next day we hired a local van who took us to visit the famous Hakka Tulou. The place is more than 3 hours drive out of Xiamen city. The driver did a pit stop along the way where we got a chance to use the toilet and bought some snack from the nearby convenient store.


Next we got to visit a coffee factory and a chance to sample a variety of coffee drink. We bought some peanut snacks and it tasted really good. Looks a little like peanut mochi. This gave me an inspiration to attempt mochi making when I return home.

We continued the journey going up the mountains and traveling over winding roads. We passed many small villages and you can notice the change in architecture. You will see many round shape houses along the way.

There were a few notable Fujian Tulou tourist site to visit. Our driver chose the Zhencheng Lou. It is inscribed as UNESCO world heritage 1113-002. There is no need to visit all as one cluster of Hakka tulou is enough to get the idea of how the community lives. Each site requires an entrance fee and you can get a discount for senior citizens by showing your passport to them.

Most of the houses are still occupied by different family groups and they used this opportunity to earn a living by selling souvenirs to tourist. The complex is huge and there is a long walk from the entrance to the main tulou. You can hire a buggy if you do not feel like walking.

It is good to hire a guide then you can understand the story behind each house. Our guide was mandarin speaking so I did not understand a word. Since I did not have to focus on learning the history, I used the ample time to take photographs. This place has lots of good photo opportunity. 
Tourists are only allowed to walk around the complex but not up into the individual houses as people are still living in there. Our guide took us to her home and we ended up being given a briefing on this wondrous tea mix with 7 types of flowers that cost RMB280 per kilogram. It was a sales marketing effort to make us feel obligated to buy expensive tea from them. I did not like this part of the tour. 

The guide took us to the second house which produces rice wines and at this house you get a chance to do a walk around.

Next was lunch. Now here comes the worst if not the lousiest part of our tour in China ever. Our driver took us to this restaurant not far from Zhengcheng Lou and they practically sliced our throat with the price of a very normal meal. The restaurant charges cover charged or entrance fee for each customers. Our most expensive lunch meal cost up to RMB 1100. I feel our driver were also on the take. If you are planning a visit using a private van ASKED the driver first if any of the places he brings you have a cover charged or not. Our mistake was not asking and of course it is also the failure of the driver to inform us. So we feel totally scammed in this. As if to rub things in the face there is a huge sign outside the tourist center in our next place to visit that says do not hire private operator. 

We tried to ignore the bad lunch experience as we went ahead with our next tour to Yun Shui Yao Village

This is a beautiful rural village in the mountains and among creeks. Apparently the place got famous because of a Chinese film that was shot in 2006. 


The whole area has a tranquil quality to it where one can sit under huge ancient tree to drink hot local tea. It could have been a beautiful relaxing afternoon if we were not rushing to get back to Xiamen. 

This trip I did not take so many pictures on food. Below are the only few that was taken. The first photo is a breakfast taken on the day we were flying back and the second is for lunch of the same day.
Then we had some duck noodles and oyster porridge for breakfast as well as some local dim sum. We ended our trip with a scrumptious Beijing duck lunch. Yum.

Would I return to Xiamen again for the third visit? Possibly. Not for Hakka Tulou tho but for more shopping and maybe a visit to the resort Gulangyu Island.


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