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Published December 10, 2018

Exploring China's Fujian Province

After our trip to Shanghai, we flew down to China’s Fujian province. Fujian is a coastal province north of Guangdong and across a 100-mile strait from Taiwan. It isn’t frequently visited by foreign tourists, unlike popular destinations like Beijing, Shanghai and Xi’an, but is quite popular among domestic tourists. This gave us a refreshing view of travel around China. We used Xiamen as a base, from which we traveled to nearby places via high-speed rail or bus.

Quanzhou

Our first day trip was to Quanzhou, one of the largest cities in the province. We were there primarily to see the remnants of Hindu temples carved by Tamil Indian merchants in the 13th century. Although the temples don’t exist anymore today, we saw fragments that were used to build the Kaiyuan Buddhist Temple and other pieces that are collected in the Quanzhou Maritime Museum.

L1080476 Quanzhou · Leica Q · f/16 · 1/8 · ISO 400

L1080563 Quanzhou · Leica Q · f/1.7 · 1/80 · ISO 100

L1080576 Quanzhou · Leica Q · f/1.7 · 1/100 · ISO 100

L1080612 Quanzhou · Leica Q · f/1.7 · 1/500 · ISO 100

L1080681 Quanzhou · Leica Q · f/1.7 · 1/500 · ISO 100

Fujian’s Tulou

Our next stop on the trip was Fujian’s Tulou. Tulou are large either circular or square, ring-shaped buildings. They are constructed from stone and earth mixed with sticky rice and covered in baked clay tiles. They were built mostly between the 12th and 20th centuries and 46 sites are considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Tulou are a very fascinating form of communal housing. All rooms were built to the exact same standards. The residents of each Tulou usually belonged to one or a small number of related family clans. Individual families would own a single vertical slice of the building, avoiding the possibility of upper, “penthouse” rooms for richer residents.

Almost everything aside from a family’s individual slice of the Tulou, such as bathrooms, ceremonial spaces, farmland and public duties are shared communally.

We spent our day at one of the largest collections of Tulou, the Gaobei Tulou Cluster.

L1080773 Gaotou · Leica Q · f/1.7 · 1/125 · ISO 100

L1080776 Gaotou · Leica Q · f/11 · 1/160 · ISO 100

L1080884 Gaotou · Leica Q · f/11 · 1/160 · ISO 100

L1080909 Gaobei Tulou Cluster · Leica Q · f/11 · 1/160 · ISO 100

L1080862 Gaobei Tulou Cluster · Leica Q · f/9.0 · 1/60 · ISO 125

L1080813 Gaobei Tulou Cluster · Leica Q · f/14 · 1/60 · ISO 640

L1080878 Gaobei Tulou Cluster · Leica Q · f/1.7 · 1/60 · ISO 125

L1080902 Gaobei Tulou Cluster · Leica Q · f/5.6 · 1/100 · ISO 100

L1080903 Gaobei Tulou Cluster · Leica Q · f/5.0 · 1/125 · ISO 100

Gulangyu

Our last stop in Fujian was Gulangyu, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, this time right off the coast of Xiamen. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Gulangyu was occupied by 13 countries as a result of unequal treaties just like Hong Kong, Shanghai and Taiwan.

It’s extremely small, at less than 1 square mile in area. Don’t let the size fool you though. Gulangyu boasts the highest, AAAAA tourist rating by China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

Gulangyu is accessible by ferry and is a pedestrian-only island. Vehicles, including bicycles, are restricted for the most part (with exceptions for very few electric buggies and government vehicles). Its winding streets and alleys twist and turn around hills and buildings in a variety of architectural styles.

While on the island, we found a quite useful feature on Baidu Maps that pieces together various attractions into walking tours of different durations. As we followed the route, it would track our progress and offer descriptions of upcoming stops.

baidu clay

If you are traveling around China, I would highly recommend using this feature. Even if you don’t know Chinese, the interface is intuitive enough to use without reading the text.

L1080454 Xiamen · Leica Q · f/16 · 1/100 · ISO 100

L1090146 Gulangyu · Leica Q · f/5.6 · 1/250 · ISO 100

L1090027 Gulangyu · Leica Q · f/16 · 1/60 · ISO 320

L1080998 Gulangyu · Leica Q · f/1.7 · 1/400 · ISO 100

L1090044 Gulangyu · Leica Q · f/16 · 1/60 · ISO 400

L1090053 Gulangyu · Leica Q · f/16 · 1/60 · ISO 200

L1090057 Gulangyu · Leica Q · f/16 · 1/60 · ISO 800

L1090208 Gulangyu · Leica Q · f/1.7 · 1/800 · ISO 100

L1090214 Gulangyu · Leica Q · f/1.7 · 1/800 · ISO 100

L1090238 Gulangyu · Leica Q · f/1.7 · 1/500 · ISO 100

L1090272 Gulangyu · Leica Q · f/9.0 · 1/60 · ISO 800

L1090279 Gulangyu · Leica Q · f/1.7 · 1/640 · ISO 100

L1090343 Gulangyu · Leica Q · f/1.7 · 1/100 · ISO 100

L1090406 Gulangyu · Leica Q · f/1.7 · 1/60 · ISO 1250

L1090408 Gulangyu · Leica Q · f/1.8 · 1/60 · ISO 125

L1090420 Xiamen · Leica Q · f/3.5 · 1/60 · ISO 5000


Thanks to Q for reading drafts of this.

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