Tianluokeng Tulou Cluster (田螺坑土楼群) translates to “Snail Pit” is one of the better known tulou clusters in Fujian. It is nicknamed “Four dishes with a soup” in Chinese because of the four round buildings surrounding a center square one. These tulous were built between the Yuan Dynasty and the 1960s. We were first taken to the lower viewing platform and then to the upper viewing platform from where there is a path leading down into the tulou cluster.
We went inside three of the five tulous here at Tianluokeng and had a leisurely lunch inside the oval Wenchang Lou.
After lunch, we went on to visit Hegui Lou (和贵楼) which is the tallest of the rectangular shaped tulous and is built on swampland. It is amazing how this massive structure is still standing after 200 years over marshy swamps. I was told by the guide that the feng shui here is very suitable for this family clan so even though it is difficult to build on swampland, they still went ahead with the construction. At this point, I was a bit “tulou out” already.
In every tulou we visited, there are many shops selling tea and the shopkeepers always invite you to sit down and try some tea.
After numerous cups of tea, we went on to visit Yun Shui Yao (云水谣) which literally translates to “The Song of the Clouds and Waters”. It is a tranquil ancient village where the film of the same name, “The Knot” in English, was shot. There are many beautiful old banyan trees along the riverside and taking a walk through the village gives you a glimpse at what country life in China is like.
Following the path along the brook from Yun Shui Yao, we arrived at the last tulou we will visit on this trip – Huaiyuan Lou (懷遠樓). Huaiyuan Lou is built in 1909 and is one of the best protected double circular tulous in the area. Like in other tulous, the ancestral hall is placed in the center.
It was a wonderful experience visiting the Fujian countryside to see these amazing buildings from hundreds of years ago and getting a glimpse of, albeit a short 3 days, the culture and daily lives of the Hakka people living in these structures.
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