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Published: December 5th 2010
We were looking forward to some more rural experiences with all of the big city travel that we've been doing recently, especially before we get to Hong Kong. Yongding county is mentioned several times in our guidebook and seemed like just the place to get this rural experience. The big draw here is the Tulou roundhouse buildings of the Hakka people which have mostly been abandoned, but are now used for tourism and many are even converted into guesthouses where tourists can get the authentic experience.
We hopped on a direct bus from Xiamen to Yongding expectiong to have to back-track to Liulian which is the most convenient place from which to visit the Tulous. Instead the bus stopped apparently in the middle of nowhere and we were ushered off as the ticket lady exclaimed, "Tulou!" From there, a car happened to be waiting for us and drove us, slightly dazed, directly to a hotel in Liulian which offered us a room in a Tulou. The tulou was rustic, crumbling, and very authentic with chickens running freely about and a barn full of pigs. Our tulou room was very basic as expected with a single-sized bed made up of wooden
planks with a few blankets for padding - cozy. We actually slept pretty well with the exception of being woken up at 4am to the sounds of, not a cock crowing, but firecrackers and barking dogs right outside our window.
Later that morning we hired a car paying way more than we wanted to, but afraid to miss out on the most famous tulous. We were also shocked to find that the entrance fees to the tulous had soared since our guidebook had been published. Apparently tourism in Fujian is exploding and much of it is centred around Yongding county (so much for off the beaten track). There is even a brand new visitor's centre under construction as well as what appear to be several new tulou-like buildings that will presumably become boutique hotels. As much as we enjoyed the tulou that we stayed in, we were a bit disappointed with the grossly overpriced tourist sites. We decided to give a second night a miss and try to get to Hong Kong a day early.
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