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The Luck of the Hakka

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After a hectic time on the peaceful paradise island of Gŭlãng Yŭ (sic) we took the bullet train through the mountains to visit the Hakka people in their homes near the city of Longyan. The Hakka were originally from northern China but fled south some seven hundred years ago to avoid wars and famine and, being very poor, they couldn’t afford proper houses so they built themselves huge blocks of apartments like this…
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Each of these ancient structures housed individual clans of as many as a thousand Hakka and provided safety from wild animals and marauders alike. Roughly 30,000 of these Tŭlόu survive in southeast China, although few date back to the thirteen hundreds, and most are still occupied…
Although traditionally circular in design some of the Tŭlόu are rectangular, but whatever the shape they all have one thing in common – they were built out of rammed earth. Amazingly, these massive dirt buildings have stood the test of time far better than many of the modern concrete ones we saw in India, although some of them need a bit of TLC…
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The Hakka lived a simple peasant life until fairly recently when someone realized that there was money in poverty and put out the word that to visit the Hakka's Tŭlόu would bring good fortune. Now even the President himself heads here to up his luck, and millions of Chinese tourists swarm the place in the hope of improving their health or wealth. It was good fortune for us that we stayed in the nearby city of Longyan so we could hit the road early and beat the busses. And what a road - eighty kilometres of newly completed super highway tunneling through miles of mountains interspersed with spectacular views of terraced rice paddies and tea plantations. We certainly beat the crowds and had the place to ourselves for awhile…
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However, despite the influx of tourists and designation as a World Heritage Site, the locals still appear to be very poor. Here’s the communal laundry and kitchen…
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And here are a few views of the dilapidated interiors…
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However, with a $15 visitor fee, and numerous other moneymaking ventures like tea ceremonies and extra charges for climbing their rickety stairs or peeping into their apartments, we can’t help wondering if it isn't lucky to be a peasant these days. After all there was no shortage of satellite dishes...
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Posted by Hawkson 05:46 Archived in China

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Comments

It doesnt look too bad to me..clean laundry no garbage lying around and they certainly have a community. Maybe we could learn something from them. The people must have been hiding from you - or watching tv....love Jean

by Jean McLaren

Amazing structures. Interesting what can be built without building codes, inspectors and engineers' stamps.

by R and B

Where the heck are you? I have tried to locate Longyan on a map to get an idea of what area of China you are visiting but it's so darn big I can't seem to zero in on it! I'll keep trying....just found out what province it's in so that helps me place you! What an adventure!

by joyce

This is very interesting. And as Jean said, something to ponder as move towards new ideas for our social survival.

by Janet

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