Southern China — Tulous of the Hakka

I love revisiting holiday snaps and doubly so when they help my research. In 2014 we were fortunate to spend several weeks in the south of China. First we visited our son who was studying in Nanjing for a semester. Then we toured Fujian Province, my husband’s ancestral land. This was our second (and hopefully not our last) visit to China. Our first visit in 2008 followed the usual tourist route: Beijing, the Great Wall, Xian, Suzhou, Shanghai etc. This time we spent time in places less commonly visited by international tourists, although we encountered plenty of domestic ones.

As I research my next book, it’s fun to look back on the photos to gather inspiration. These sites won’t feature in my story, as it’s set in Guangdong Province, but they certainly help me get in the mood. The image above is of a tulou. These structures were built by the Hakka people who were driven south to this area many hundreds of years ago. Perhaps being exiled from their previous homes led them to build these fortress style dwellings that housed many families in one large, circular residence with a central courtyard containing community facilities. They range in size from structures that house hundreds of people to those that are home to only a few families.

The tulou are dotted around the countryside in Fujian province and many of them are still occupied. We visited the area of Yongding where there are many of these dwellings, both in villages containing several and individual tulou sited amongst other more modern buildings. If you ever have the opportunity to visit southern China, they are well worth a visit. It is also possible to find lodgings in some.