Our tour of traditional Fujian Earthen style buildings started properly at the Yuchang Earthen Building. Although we had already checked into our hostel for the night – a cosy wee room in Qing De Lou building in Taxia Village nearby. So this is the first part of the tour of Fujian. Bear with these posts as the details may not all be entirely correct given the poor translations to English (even in my guide books), but I’ll do the best I can in giving an account of the tour.
So we arrived in Yongding early morning and got a driver to take us to our hostel. We were both a bit tired from the night train (which was also a bit smokey). But after a quick freshening up at the hostel, we were picked up by our driver (not a nice guy as it turns out). His name was Sau Jun, and we definitely don’t recommend him for this type of tour. But the tour began and I was very excited.
We arrived at 8.50 am at the beautiful little Yuchang Earthen Building, shining in the morning sun and situated (wait for it) in Xiaban Village in Shuyang Town in Nanjing County in Fujian Province in The People’s Republic of China. Even that is shortening it. And it gets confusing as this exact building according to the books and maps is in about 6 different villages with different names! Anyway we arrived here!
The sign on the entrance was in English as well, I hadn’t expected that. But there are some question marks in the translation, still a nice overview.
Panny inside the Yuchang Building.
To the right once you enter. It’s quite an amazing wooden structure and shows the longevity of the design, this one was actually built between 1308 and 1338.
Us two together in Yuchang Earthen Building.
View from the front entrance of Yuchang Earthen Building.
Panny and I carried both of our cameras on the day. This way we get way too many photos, but at least if one battery runs out or a camera breaks we still have them.
Panny by the pretty river and bridge from which the entrance to the Yuchang building looks out over.
Out the front of the Yuchang building.
And with the sign for it. In Chinese of course. Despite looking hot, you can tell by my wearing of a grey fleece that it was actually a bit nippy.
Panny Yu against an impressive backdrop and the Yuchang Building.
I took this of the actual village the Yuchang Building is in. Forgive the poor quality photos – this was my old camera. I have a habit of ruining the centre part of my camera lenses. Managed to do this somehow with my 2 most recent cameras. Both, are now confined to the bin or the Nam Song river in Laos.
We didn’t have to pay into the Yuchang building, because Panny had booked an all inclusive tour, but we got to keep our tickets – this was the entrance here.
Wonderful souvenirs on display. I’m a sucker for these.
Flying the Northern Ireland flag in the Yuchang Building. I’d estimate less than 10 people have ever done that, if even that!
We walked all around the bottom of the Yuchang, but couldn’t get up into the upper tiers (we did this later on in almost all the similar buildings).
Stalls selling goods and offering free tea. The locals get a wee bit of money through tourism, though not enough.
Ticket for part of the tour.
We got to go inside the actual “houses” within. Basically these massive buildings were the homes for over sized families, housed in their own unique village dwelling. Panny’s pointing as a well. I believe this is where they got their water from. It wouldn’t have been hard, the Yuchang building is right beside a river.
Inside the same room – basically a kitchen.
The main drink here is of course tea and in many varieties. The locals offer you free cups, and you don’t actually feel obliged to buy anything. Though Panny and I had a few cups and I picked up a few souvenirs.
Tired eyes, uncombed hair (where was my hat?!) and a morning tea.
One of many teas.
With the local lady who lives there and our tea.
Panny and I enjoy our red tea in the Yuchang.
Some of the living quarters. A small bit of history about the building then – it is often also known as the tilted building, which you cannot see from the outside, but once inside the walls seem to have a slight tilt on them. Especially when you look at some of my photos of the supporting pillars. The greatest slant is at an angle of 15 degrees and these are on the corridors to the right and left as you go in. The building was built by the Liu, Zhang, Luo, Tang and Fan clans in the area and around 1308 – 1938. The Yuchang has 5 storeys.
More gifts. I bought some postcards and Panny bought a replica of the Yuchang for her growing cabinet collection. Each of the 5 storeys has 54 rooms! The entire building is divided into 5 units, with a staircase to each. The 5 clans had their own section then, but now there are only members of the Liu clan who remain there. Something like between 10 – 15 of the actual households are in use. The rest is for tourist purposes and of course the entire Earthen Buildings of Fujian Province are a World Heritage Site.
My brief encounter with some of the Liu clan – the local family. 700 years or so their family heritage, history and ancestry have lived here. Imagine showing them an iPod, credit card or computer. It’s another world.
Religion or belief plays a part and this was the central part of the Yuchang, a place of worship.
Another shot of the river outside.
The Yuchang Building!
Entrance sign for the Yuchang Building. We left after about 45 minutes in fact our tour guide was useless and a bit of a dickhead! He rushed Panny and I but none of that could take the sparkle of our enjoyable visit.
On a final note and every part of this tour will get this – Make sure you avoid this horrible guy and tour company for the day. His name translated into English is something like Sau Jun. He’s a dickhead! Pity really as the Fujian Province is stunning.
Where and What – Yuchanglou, or Yuchang Earthen Building (Chinese:裕昌楼), is located in Xiaban Village, Nanjing County, Zhangzhou city. Built in 1368 in later Yuan Dynasty and early Ming Dynasty with an area of 2289 square meters, Yuchanglou is the existing largest and oldest round earthen building in Nanjing County.