Our spectacular tour of the inland part of the Fujian Province of China ended in Taxia Village, where we were staying for the night. When you are backpacking in Fujian Province, places like this are dreamy, remote and inspiring. The day tour had been phenomenal. We got to see a host of traditional Fujian Earthen Tulou Buildings and were glad of a fantastic place to stay for the night. Of course hotels and hostels don’t exist in these parts. Instead we got to stay in one of the Earthen Buildings itself! Although the building is now calling itself a hotel, namely the Hotel of Qingde. It’s housed in an Earthen Building called the Qingde Building, which sits on the edge of a riverside village known officially as Taxia Village. This village is picturesque, quiet and pure Chinese to the core. When you visit places like Taxia you know you are really travelling. For me places like this are more special than obvious tourists spots such as New York, Buenos Aires and Sydney. There’s something more raw and authentic about places like Taxia, and it’s spin off attraction “De Yuan Tang”.
Taxia is full of Earthen Buildings. We had arrived there initially at dawn, around 6 am to the Qingde Building, where we were stayed in the cosy Room 39 on the top floor. It’s a traditional rectangular/square shaped Earthen Building. The shining building in the photo above however is a circular Earthen Building in Taxia Village. The village can also be called “Ta Pa Tsune” the way the locals say it.
So we arrived in Taxia Village at 6am and went to sleep for two hours! Yes, we had done the night train to Yongding from Shenzhen and were still tired. Well, we did go straight from work on the Friday night to the China border for this trip. Then we went on an all day tour from 8.30 am onwards around Yongding and Nanjing County. After the tour on our return, it was time to explore Taxia Village itself – the one we were staying in. We got back before sunset so could see it in daylight. We later walked round Taxia at night, a barely lit up village report will follow in Part 8.
Taxia Village has a lot of Earthen Buildings, but for me the best thing was the fact that the pretty village sits on the river.
Walking riverside in Taxia – Earthen Buildings all around – I should mention exactly what the meaning of Earthen Building really is at this point. They are basically large or elaborate farmhouses that large clans or families built together and live in. They were built for defence and for togetherness and of course with cost effectiveness, given that entire clans lived within. In the boundless countryside charmed valleys of the Fujian Province, these Earthen Buildings are scattered like rural stars. The earliest Earthen Building was constructed in 769. Yes some of them really are that old and have survived the test of time. That was during the Tang Dynasty. A few of these style buildings were also built during the Song and Yuan dynasties, which I don’t know a lot about. Those who are good at Chinese History will be aware of the various stages of China’s development. These buildings have survived a hell of a lot of history.
The river through Taxia Village again there. It’s runs right through the centre of the village. To continue about the Earthen Buildings, the ones built during the Ming Dynasty are the ones that can be seen everywhere and if you care to read the other posts on the tour of Fujian Province, you can see the extreme detail and variety within them.
Panny admires the river in Taxia. Pretty villages like this are just amazing. No phones, no internet, no commercial adverts. I love places like this.
I enjoyed this short walk so much. I was the only non-Chinese person in the village. Places like this are very difficult to see for foreigners. You really need to speak Putonghua/Mandarin, and through Panny I can now experience seeing the proper China! It is after all the largest country on earth in terms of population.
The landscape in behind is also incredible. The main paths by the river are now of course a through route for all traffic. Large trucks and buses cannot fit down all the streets but as you can see there are large cars about.
We followed signs to a place called De Yuan Tang. Those pillars behind me and this elevated platform overlooking the village is known as De Yuan Tang. As far as we could tell anyway. There are not a great deal of other travel websites in English on this area, hence why I cannot confirm the accuracy of any of these place names. The walk across the river and up to De Juan Tang was relaxing and enjoyable. I’d say it was 20 – 30 minutes walk from our “hotel” well our base at the Qingde Building.
These concrete pillars are related to the ancestors and founders of the village. In my book they were listed as Ancestor’s Worship. Panny asked one of the locals the meaning and they confirmed it was a mark of respect for those who had gone before. Nice chance to get a photo of the Northern Ireland flag. I mean who would take a Northern Ireland flag to Taxia Village and up to an area called De Yuan Tang? If anyone else has ever done that, please get in touch!
There was actually a gathering of locals the evening we visited, as you can see in behind, there were a load of people there. It seems like a very closeknit community.
The setting was just gorgeous. Panny and I smiled and enjoyed the views in the evening sun. It was certainly after 5pm on a Saturday afternoon and as we walked around I really wondered where the hell life had taken me. Even just a few years earlier I’d have had no desire whatsoever to be here in Taxia Village rather than at Dean Court in Bournemouth watching AFC Bournemouth or years earlier at the Oval in Belfast watching Glentoran. Both my teams were playing that day and I’d have had no idea of way to get the result. I think I found out 2 days later. But in an odd way, I’d rather have been at Taxia Village than at Dean Court or the Oval. It will probably be the only Saturday night I ever spend in Taxia. I certainly hope to have more Saturdays at the Oval (1 home match in 5 years!) or at Dean Court (My last home match was February 2009). Thinking of the football and the life I’d left behind, it was beer time. I knew I could find one.
We walked back down away from De Yuan Tang and I found a wee shop which was basically this guy’s lounge but he sold beer. Strangely he didn’t keep it in the fridge, so I only bought one bottle. The cost was 7 Yuan (RMB). I think that’s about 50 pence. It was a 500 ml bottle and I was able to open it and walk round the village enjoying its sensations.
I enjoy the art of beer drinking immensely, especially through travelling being able to experience new beers, new bars, new friends and new places to drink in. This was a beer called Sedrin, though the translation from Chinese to English left a little to be desired. The beer was average at best, but these things don’t seem to matter when you are enjoying life.
Now that’s what I call a beer with a view. On the way back through Taxia Village we took turns to walk on the stepping stones across the river. This was just a magic wee place. I hope those reading enjoy the photos and writing that goes with it.
I’m enjoying this beer. Panny and I clock up some miles in the most obscure places. I took her to Comber and Donaghadee while in Northern Ireland. Both are pretty wee towns, but neither are remotely famous or popular with tourists. This was Panny taking me to a pretty Chinese village bereft of any form of global commercial appeal. I’d have to guess I enjoyed it more than her, merely for the uniqueness of it all.
On this quiet, dry Saturday afternoon, what a nice setting for a Bangor man in China to whip out the Northern Ireland flag. Its meaning lost completely on the locals, its relevance lost on Panny Yu, its pride on unfurling it remained solely with me.
Panny got on the stepping stones next. Actually that photo isn’t great, let’s try again…
Marginally better, but a bit tilted. Never was a great photographer.
This is by the main bridge across the river.
Who takes photos of lamposts? Me – these are special! They are in the shape of Earthen Buildings – we would see them lit up later on at night when we popped out again.
Religion and Beliefs play a big part in Chinese history and tradition, and no village would be complete without some kind of pavilion or temple.
Local life in Taxia Village. All you ever read about Chinese culture is true. It’s a back to basics existence. And not a football in sight in these places. It’s no wonder they’ve only qualified for one World Cup, and that was only because Asia got an extra place due to South Korea/Japan hosting it. They lost all three matches. Kids here in Taxia go fishing and chase chickens around their village.
Layered rice fields are also in abundance in this region of China. The ones in and around Taxia weren’t quite so pretty, but unusual!
The corner of one of the circular Earthen Buildings in Taxia Village.
Money – RMB/Chinese Yuan. Oddly this place could survive without money. They have rice, chicken, pigs, eggs and vegetables. That’s all you need surely!
My comment here on the above photo is that this is the more modern part of Taxia Village – i.e. newer housing. That might seem odd as to some people this isnt modern at all. Remember China is as old as some of the hills, so this sort of thing is modern to China.
Our accomodation for the night in Taxia. The Earthen Building we stayed in. This building, the Qingde Building sits at the end of a village. It is amazing that you can stay overnight in one of these buildings.
I’m backtracking a slight bit here, but this photo taken from our tour car shows the entrance into the Nanjing Scenic Area, at the edge of Shuyang Town. Shuyang Town is the town area that Taxia sits in.
This was the checkpoint area to Shuyang Town. Nothing is checked. Like Panny said once to me “communism is all about image, and rarely about action” (or she said something to me that I translated eloquently as that). I like that quote and idea. It reminded me of when I was studying European History and Mussolini used propaganda as a sharp substitute for action. Historian Mack Smith even claimed “propaganda as a substitute for action was almost the essence of fascism”. Interesting. Other examples of this sort of thing would be the North Korean Army. So strong and powerful protecting a nation that is rumoured to be weak to the very core. And the “bag checking” system at Shenzhen Railway Station like they don’t really check your bag or care that you have one. The Chinese Government just want it to look like their officials are checking!
The only photo taken the entire day of our wanker of a driver. His name was Sau Jan. He tried to rush us through sights, asked for money early on, missed out a few sights and acted like the worst tour guide ever – he didn’t even explain where we were once. Lucky I had a guide and Panny can speak Chinese eh?! No tip for this wanker!
Arrival in Taxia at rush hour – the flocks of tourists must all come at the same time. Within 2 minutes there was no traffic and we were at the Qingde Building.
Another photo in downtown Taxia. If that’s not outstanding as a tourist spot, then you’ll be hard to please.
This was our local shop and eaterie. We didn’t actually have a full meal that night, merely a few snacks and a decent lunch. The following day we’d pass through countless banana fields and I had built up a mega appetite by lunch time.
The path to the front og our accomodation, the Qingde Building. Real Chinese life as it happens.
Locals fishing I presumed.
The modern part of Taxia, this road curved round and our accomodation was at the top.
I first knew of the name De Yuan Tang by reading this signpost for it.
A mini temple on our walk through the village. A contender for the world’s smallest temple. Less than a cubic metre.
Turn your head away from the village for a second and you can see this type of rural background. I took this on the walk between our accomodation and the main part of Taxia Village.
The town’s only information board alas was all in Chinese. Did you ever expect anything else Mr. Blair? Of course not!
The local pub. With 2 Beer brand adverts on it, this is as commercial as Taxia gets. I didn’t pop in and ask if they had football on the box. I already knew the answer would be no.
Riverside again and the impressive cobbled stone work on the walls. The village cleverly is built at a height, eliminating the risk of flooding.
There was another hotel in town – this one – pretty happy we weren’t staying there and were in a proper Earthen Building for the night.
A crowd gathered here outside this restaurant. We had no idea why, but they were all part of a tour group.
Following the path to De Yuan Tang, which incidentally were the only things anywhere signposted in any kind of English.
Dried…something. I have tried many and various foods in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. This stuff was given a by ball. I don’t know what it is, but I wasn’t upset that I didn’t try it.
The pilgrimage hike to De Yuan Tang! Or at least single file on the only path up to it.
A memorial marker at De Yuan Tang.
The Ancestor’s Memorial Pillars.
By the Ancestor’s Memorial Pillars.
As I mentioned there was a gathering or event just ending when we got there. It all took place from this stage. Opposite the pillars at the top of the village.
The view of Taxia Village from the top.
Panny walking into the shop – same one in the photo earlier where I bought my Sedrin Beer.
We wondered about our onward transport, and found a sign for the bus station on the edge of the village. As it happened this wasn’t the place for us to get a bus out of the place. We were heading to Xiamen next, report to come.
Typical residential parts of Taxia. Washing hanging up, Earthen Buildings and decent views to the hills.
You can see Taxia’s largest Earthen Building in the background. It felt odd that the buildings in front now house another hotel. I guess commercialism and tourism will never fully escape places like this. When there’s beauty and uniqueness, there’s money to be made! A Volkswagen Golf even shows up! A German car – that reallly did make me laugh!
Hat trick of chickens. Or roosters. They are everywhere.
Panny and I also visited the local Primary School. As a foreigner you could probably get a job teaching in a place such as this. Though the rate of pay would be low and the living conditions basic, I’d imagine the experience would be incredible!
The map in the Primary School even had the UK on it – the funny shape missing from the island of Ireland seemed to be Northern Ireland. And Dover to Kent just got closer…
Kids play basketball at the local school.
Last photo for this we blog report, though two more on the Fujian tour will follow. I’ve enjoying writing this one. If you ever go to Fujian Province be sure to stay in the Qingde Building in Taxia Village. Panny Yu looks a bit tired here after a day of galavanting. We went back to the “hotel” for a rest and a few cups of tea before heading out into Taxia at night. Amazing.
Where – Taxia Village, Shuyang Town, Nanjing County, Fujian Province, CHINA
Accomodation – The Qingde Building (called the Hotel of Qingde – in the videos below I refer to it as Qingde Lou Hostel)
Languages Spoken – Putonghua/Mandarin
Nationalities Met – Chinese, Hong Kongese
Key Song –
THE SHAPESHIFTERS – BACK TO BASICS:
My Videos –
EARLY MORNING OUTSIDE OUR HOSTEL:
MORNING TOUR FROM OUR CAR IN TAXIA VILLAGE:
RIVER IN TAXIA VILLAGE:
PRIMARY SCHOOL/TOWN SQUARE IN TAXIA VILLAGE:
EVENING OUTSIDE OUR HOSTEL IN TAXIA VILLAGE:
DE YUAN TANG – ANCESTOR’S MEMORIAL IN TAXIA VILLAGE:
DOWNTOWN DU WAN TANG, TAXIA VILLAGE:
DRINKING TEA AT QINGDE LOU HOSTEL: