While my dad is from Fuqing, my mum is Hakka. Specifically, from Dapu 大埔. I didn’t plan for it initially, but after checking the map, i discovered that Dapu is not too far from the Tulou area. Well, afterall, the Tulou are built by the Hakkas. So, i decided to add on an itinerary to check out Dapu, even though my mum wasn’t so keen.
Dapu is located in Guangdong province, just bordering Fujian. Just so that we could do some sightseeing (because there isn’t much to see in and around Dapu, other than ancient dwellings which does not interest my mum again), i chose to visit the terraced paddy fields of Pingshan (坪山梯田).
Enroute to Pingshan, we passed by Pinghe (平和), and they are famous for Pomelo (蜜柚). I have not seen Pomelo, or anything at all for that matter, grown in such a scale.
The cement road in the direction of Dapu was under repair, and it was in a very bad state. When we got to Pingshan, we were the only tourists around. I guess Pingshan is not on the radar of even local tourists. There was a “shop” next to the tourist office with the label saying “农家菜”, and that was what i had in mind for lunch, to eat home-cooked food. It was a family run business that was ever ready to serve customers at any time.
Now, this meal turned out to be the most memorable one of the entire trip. It was delicious! And it was also the cheapest meal. The moment we settled down, we were treated to their homegrown Pomelo, which was very good. These were honest people (usually the case in rural areas) serving up their best, and it left me so contented.
The dishes were in Hakka style, and we picked the classic ones.
All in all, the meal that filled 5 adults and 2 kids came up to only 166 Yuan (about S$35). You know what, meals like this make me want to visit rural China over and over again.
After the meal, we set out to see the terraced paddy fields. It was harvest time.
I had intended to make a stop in Baihouzhen (百侯镇) to take a walk along the 老街 (old street), but the driver did not find the place and was not willing to try, so we made a brief stop at the European style mansions instead. I wasn’t so keen to see these actually.
I wanted to visit the ancient area in Dapu town (大埔镇), and partly because i did not specify the exact location to the driver, we were brought to yet another mansion built by a businessman who returned from Malaya. And so it was a wasted trip zooming past these age old towns. Granted, the sun sets at 530pm this time of the year and the driver wanted to just quickly get to the Tulou area where we were staying for the night, so i couldn’t blame him completely.
And so we got to the Tulou area at night. Specifically, we were at Yunshuiyao (云水谣). There are many Tulou throughout the region, and a handful of them are turned into ticketed tourist sites. I actually left it to the driver to decide which Tulou site we were going to visit, and i was glad he brought us to Yunshuiyao (actually he did so because he wanted to earn commission from the hotel he recommended), an ancient town.
There were two Tulou open to visitors, one upstream and the other downstream.
Our driver told us that, despite one of the Tulou claiming itself to be the “King of Tulou” (土楼王), there was another Tulou – Shunyulou (顺裕楼) that is the largest one. Well, since he said so, we had to check it out.
According to the head of the Tulou, there is no plan to turn Shunyulou into a tourist attraction. Visitors are actually free to walk in to check it out. I hope they will receive minimal disturbance from tourists like us (although they didn’t seem to mind at all). Sorry.
We were done with our Tulou visit very quickly. Before we went on our journey, we made a final stop at the lookout overlooking the Hekeng Tulou (河坑土楼群).
Having concluded our Tulou visit, there was actually no other agenda for the day except for the meals. We were headed to Putian (莆田). The driver suggested that we could make a brief stop at the Nankeng (南坑) coffee plantation. I thought it was not a bad idea, to get a sip of coffee. The people of Fujian seem to drink mostly tea and not much else. Well, i did not notice much consumption of alcoholic drinks among places we went.
I was looking forward to try the food in Putian, since it has become quite popular in Singapore. Based on reviews, i chose Ah Wei seafood restaurant (阿伟海鲜楼). I highly recommend this place. The food was good and very fairly priced.
I was most keen on comparing the Lor Mee or braised noodles (卢面) they serve with the version in Singapore. Well, as you can see in the photo below, the soup is a darker colour. It is thicker and has a richer taste. It is better! I will attribute this to the abundance of low-cost seafood ingredients they have access to.
All in, a total of 8 dishes which we could hardly finish, the meal cost only 395 Yuan (S$81), which is a steal.