Pomegranate Country

by - 23:04

The south of Fujian province is a mountainous area and forms a boundary between Guangdong, Fujian and Guangxi province. Due to the remoteness and inaccessibility of the area, many emigrants from the Central Plains had moved into this region during the wars as it is a relatively safe and peaceful place to settle down. As they are guests in a foreign region, they are thus known as the Hakka people, or 客家.

Zhangzhou 漳州

After an hour's drive southwest of Xiamen, we arrive at Zhangzhou city.

Bai Hua Cun 白花村

Bai Hua Cun is an area which comprises a large number of nurseries. The nurseries in this area specialises in bonsai and cactus. However, as China customs regulations prohibit soil from being exported, tourists could only bring home potted cactus as they are able to survive the journey without soil.

Gigantic cactus forms the centrepice of the village. However, they are fake. (it would be indeed scary if they are real!)
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Potted cactus sprouting neon coloured needles for sale
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Cactus flower!
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Nan Shan Si 南山寺

Nan Shan Shi used to be a huge villa built by a wealthy merchant in the past. However, it was against the rules for anyone to live in a more opulent estate than the emperor, and the offender could be beheaded. Thus, the villa was converted into a temple to avoid trouble from the imperial court.

Main temple hall
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Entrance to the temple showing the elaborate carving and gold painted signboard.
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Pien Tze Huang 片仔癀

Pien Tze Huang is a famous traditional Chinese medicine that is mainly used as a moisturiser and to treat certain skin ailments. As a result of its importance, it has been granted the status of a national treasure (other traditional Chinese medicine with similar status includes Yunnan Bai Yao 云南白药 and Bao Fu Ling 保肤灵) and its formulation is a closely guarded secret within the walls of the production facility in Zhangzhou.

It seems from the label that this medicine is also the perfect cure for all the financial troubles which USA is currently facing too! =D
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Hakka Round House (Tu Lou) 客家土楼

The Hakka tu lou had became synomonous with Fujian province due to its unique construction and purpose. In order to serve its main purpose of fending off robbery, a typical Hakka tu lou has very few windows and is fronted by only a strong wooden door. The earthen walls are strong, weather resistant and immune to attacks by fire as fire would only serve to harden the walls as earth is being baked.

In the case of this particular tu lou 相辉楼, the area around the entrance had been replaced by concrete to strengthen the structure. A large number of these tu lou had collapsed after centuries of weathering. It is not easy to find a complete tu lou now as many had been divided to preserve the remaining structurally sound sections of the tu lou.
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Common Courtyard. Xiang Hui Lou 相辉楼 has only one "ring" and is home to about 200 residents; larger tu lous in Yongding county have up to three concentric rings that can accomodate up to two thousand residents.
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The most important area of the tu lou is the ancestral tablet hall. No residents are allowed to live above the hall as it is considered disrespectful.
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View from the top level.
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Interior of the upper level. Yes, the older residents do actually purchase their coffins and store them on the upper levels of the ancestral hall! It does feel creepy to see a row of those traditional Chinese coffins...
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View out of a window
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Heading back down to courtyard, one never fails to notice a hen and its brood of chicks milling around the entrance to the ancestral hall.
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A duck and a goose share an intimate moment
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While this kampung black chicken practises its strut in preparation for its next pageant!
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A number of residents had moved out of the cramped living conditions in the tu lou and moved into new houses built around the tu lou. A cat wedged behind the window grilles gazed out expectantly at us.
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On the road to Chaozhou

The main crop in this region is pomegranate (柚子) as they grow well in the well drained soil along the steep hillsides in this mountainous region. The pomegranate is also exported to Singapore in autumn (for the mid-autumn festival) and early spring (for Chinese New Year).
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A tu lou nestled among more conventional houses.
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In addition to pomegranate, wheat is also cultivated in the valleys. The farmers often spread out the harvest to dry on the concrete road surfaces, causing traffic to slow down as a result. The hay is often burnt to fertilise the land, which results in a dense smog in the valley as a result.
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After travelling for a distance along badly surfaced roads, one of the rear tyre of our bus was shredded by a sharp object and we had to pull in at one of the local workshops to have the tyre replaced.
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I had been fascinated with this crude, yet amazingly reliable and powerful farm tractor that is unique to China ever since my first visit to China. It is commonly known as 拖拉车 in Chinese.
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Taking a closer look, it seemed that this contraption uses a rather unique method to change between the 8 available gears (6 forward and 2 reverse).
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Next Post: Chaozhou (Teochew)

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