Backpacking in Fujian Province: Yuchang Earth Building, Xiaban Village

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 – the Qing De Lou building in Taxia Village. This is the first of our 10 part of the tour of Fujian Province. Please bear with these posts as the details may not all be entirely correct given the poor translations into English but we are doing our best!

We arrived in Yongding early morning and got a local driver to take us to our hostel. We were both a bit tired from the Yongding night train (which was also a bit smokey). But after a quick freshening up at the hostel, we were picked up by our driver who turned out to be a bad tour guide. More on that as the story develops.

We arrived at 8.50 am at the beautiful Yuchang Earthen Building, which was 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 believe me!! The Fujian Tour will continue to be confusing as this exact building according to the books and maps is in about 6 different villages with different names, that my friends is China.

The sign on the entrance was translated into English as well, we hadn’t expected that. Although admittedly there are some question marks in the translation, but it’s a good effort and still a nice overview.

Panny from inside the Yuchang Building.

To the right once you enter through the main entrance. It’s quite an amazing wooden structure and shows the longevity of the design, this one was actually built between 1308 and 1338.

Jonny from Backpacking in inside the Yuchang Earthen Building.

Two of the Backpacking in China team inside the Yuchang Earthen Building.

Hera ere some photos and the view from the front entrance of Yuchang Earthen Building.

We always take a lot of photos and this part of China we find particularly beautiful.

Or team member Panny by the pretty river and bridge from which the entrance to the Yuchang building looks out over, on a spring morning.

Out the front of the Yuchang Earth building in China.

And with the sign for the entrance, so yes it is kind of signposted! In Chinese of course. Despite looking hot, you can tell by my wearing of a grey fleece that it was actually a bit colder in the early morning.

Our team member Panny Yu against an impressive backdrop and the Yuchang Building.

I took this photo of the actual village the Yuchang Building is in. It’s Xiaban Village. Forgive the poor quality photos – this was my old camera. I have a habit of ruining the centre part of my camera lenses on my travels! 

We didn’t have to pay entrance into the Yuchang building, by the way because Panny had booked an all inclusive tour for us for the entire day, which I recommend doing, but we got to keep our tickets – this was the entrance here.

Wonderful souvenirs on display. I’m a sucker for these. The Fujian Tulou miniatures make a great souvenir.

More souvenirs – one for the spendthrifts!

Flying my Northern Ireland flag in the Yuchang Building. I’d estimate less than 10 people have ever done that in the entire history, if even that!

We walked all around the bottom of the Yuchang Earthen Building, but we couldn’t get up into the upper tiers (we did this later on in almost all the similar buildings anyway).

All around you, stalls are selling goods and offering free tea. The locals get a bit of money through tourism, though not enough but every little helps.

These are our tickets for part of the tour.

We got to go inside one of the actual “houses” within the Yuchang Earthen Building. Basically these massive buildings were the homes for over sized families down the years, housed in their own unique village dwellings – they still live here but in slightly more modernity nowadays. Panny’s pointing to a well in the above photo. I believe this is where they got their water from back in the day. It wouldn’t have been too hard, the Yuchang building is next to a river.

Inside the same room – basically a kitchen nowadays that has been modernised.

The main drink here is of course tea and in many varieties and flavours. The locals will offer you free cups, and you don’t actually feel obliged to buy anything. We sat down and had a few cups! The joys of travelling in Fujian Province China.

Tired eyes, uncombed hair (where was my hat?!) and a morning tea that was me backpacking in Fujian Province that day.

The girl who makes the tea sharing one of many teas.

I’m posing with the local lady who lives there and our tea.

A few more photos of Panny and I enjoying our red tea in the Yuchang Earthen Building.

A few more photos of some of the living quarters. A small bit of history about the building itself then for you – The Yuchang Building 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 actually look at some of my photos of the supporting pillars. The biggest slant is at an angle of 15 degrees and these are on the corridors to the right and left as you go inside. The Yuchang building was built by the Liu, Zhang, Luo, Tang and Fan clans in the area and around 1308 – 1938. The Yuchang building has 5 storeys.

More gifts inside the Yuchang. I bought some postcards and Panny bought a replica of the Yuchang building for her growing cabinet collection. Each of the 5 storeys has 54 rooms in it! The entire building is divided into 5 units, with a staircase to each floor. The 5 clans had their own section back then, but now there are only members of the Liu clan who remain living there. Something like between 10 to 15 of the actual households are still in use. The rest is for tourist purposes only which is cool and of course the entire Earthen Buildings of Fujian Province are a World Heritage Site listed by UNESCO!!

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 and here they are still going strong! Imagine showing them an iPod, credit card or computer. It’s another world for them. Cash only society and even a telephone seems modern here.

Let’s not forget we are in China of course and so religion or belief plays a part and this was the central part of the Yuchang, a place of worship, the Temple.

Another photo I took of the river outside.

The Yuchang Building in all its glory – magnificent!

The entrance sign for the Yuchang Building. You don’t need too long to see the Yuchang and in fact we left after about 45 minutes – our tour guide was useless and a bit of an asshole! He rushed Panny and I during our tour 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 as we want to spread the word about bad tour guides in China – Make sure you avoid this horrible guy and his tour company when backpacking in Fujian. That’s his business card above His name translated into English is something like Sau Jun. He’s a total dickhead! Which is a pity really as the Fujian Province is stunning, we hope you guys get a better tour guide!

Where and What is it? – 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.
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