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Copyright 2001-7 by Sue Brown & Dr. Bill Help Build an online  community for foreigners.  Join the Xiamen Guide forumOrder Books Common Talk Xiamen Dailys Weekly English SupplementXiamenguide Forum Guide to Xiamen hsiamen amoy fuhken fukienInside of a Hakka round earthen house
Main Page   Business Links     Recreation Links     E-mail Beautiful wooden covered bridge in West Fujian's longyan changting

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Hakka Roundhouses Longyan Yongding Hakka roundhouses Roundhouse Photo Album Longyan Yongding Hakka roundhousesAmoy Tigers Longyan Changting Tingzhou Start of Long MarchChangting (5 Pages!) text and 100+ photos on "Little Red Shanghai", Long March, Hakka Homeland, etc.) Longyan Liancheng Guanzai MountainGuanzai Mountain (Surrealistic scenery!)

Journey to the West! West Fujian is one roller coaster range of mountains after another, but it’s well worth the ride to the Hakka Earthen Houses (about 20,000 of them, altogether!), and “Little Red Shanghai—” the Hakka Homeland, Cradle of Chinese Communism, and start of the Long March (followed by the Short April ). photo of amoy tiger in meihua nature reserve fujian

South China tigers (a.k.a. Amoy tigers) roam Meihua Nature Preserve, and the subterranean beauty of Dragon Cave and the Immortal Lake Cave compete with the surrealistic scenery of Guanzai Mountain above.

The six hour drive from Amoy to Changting winds past ancient villages and banyans (the ‘fengshui tree’ ) nestled deep within dark valleys shrouded by mists and time. Old stone bridges irrigate patches of sweet potatoes, tobacco, and taro, guarded by colorful scarecrows (with crows often perched right on their shoulders).

mountain road leading to Nanjing and Yongding round housesMysterious temples cling precariously to cliffs, pagodas crown bald peaks, and solitary bamboos tower here and there like giant brushes painting the mist on mountains lifted straight from a Chinese watercolor.
Before the highways, it is no wonder I averaged just 10 miles an hour!Back to top Amoymagic Guide to Xiamen and Fujian

“Don’t view flowers on horseback!” Chinese warn. (走马观花, zouma guanhua). In other words, “Take time to smell the roses”(or the nightsoil, as the case may be). So I prefer to drive slowly (relatively) and savor the sites. I ignore the honks behind me because I know that Darwinian Driving (Survival of the Fastest) and Sunzi’s Art of Auto Warfare (孙子汽车兵法) require they pass me anyway, whether I’m driving 50 kph or 150 kph. But at least such driving helps keep the Car crashes are part of the population control program.  See Darwinian Driving--survival of the fastestpopulation down.

Zhangzhou Bananas are small, and not so pretty, but very tastyEndless seas of banana trees fill the valleys west of Zhangzhou. Zhangzhou bananas are no cheaper here than in Xiamen but they’re so fresh that one stalk included a pair of field mice, at no extra charge. Zhangli would have had kittens if he’d known that our cat Charlemagne got to them.

Past the bright red and white cottages of “China Orchid Garden (中国兰花园)” begin the endless villages, temples, ancient banyan trees, and the endless billboards that help entertain bored Bills.

Reminds me of the See Rock City barn roofs all over the South East United States!Billboards and slogans painted on old walls, buildings, and farmhouses once proclaimed, “Long Live the Victorious Struggle of the People!” Nowadays they exhort citizens to “Have one child!” “Cherish the Roads,” “Help Fight Fires,” or “Drink HuiQuan Beer!” Bright red “Robust!” mineral water signs adorned buildings in even the remotest valleys. They reminded me of the “See Rock City! ” barn roofs once scattered all over the Southeastern U.S.
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Gold and Gall! Longyan is a geological gold mine, boasting South China’s largest deposit of iron, as well as gold, manganese, tungsten, and deng deng.

In addition to mining and agriculture (tobacco is the biggest crop, fertilized by lots of dung dung ), West Fujian is into electronics, metallurgy, machinery, forestry, building materials, chemicals, textiles, food, and light industries. The area exports handmade paper, rabbit fur, pepper, dried mushrooms, smoked plums, and peanuts. But the big claim to fame is Wuping County’s dried pig gallbladder. The brochure claims,
“Dried pig gallbladder contains various carbohydrates and vitamins, especially it is the best gift and delicious dish to be given or to entertain guests and friends with.”

It would take a lot of gall to dish that out to friends, but if you’ve the guts , go for it.

A Dog’s Life (A She Minority Legend) I swerved to avoid a hound in the highway and my friend said, “The She worship dogs as gods.”
“I know,” I said. “And I almost sent that god back to heaven!”
Legends claim that an ancient king offered his daughter in marriage to whomever could save the village from bandits—never dreaming a dog would win the pretty prize. He didn’t want a dog for a son-in-law, so he used a 7-day magic transformation to turn the mutt into a man. But on the last night the curious King took a peek. The magic stopped, leaving a man with a mutt’s head. Ever since, the She have worshipped dogs, and would no more eat a dog than other Chinese would chow down on boiled Buddha.

Hakka also worship dogs, but preferably puppies, ten pounds or less, in a pot. During the 1930s, some soldiers sold their blankets (and probably pup tents as well) for a hot pot of potatoes ‘n puppy. A hot Hakka dish today is QiLing TouTai—“Unicorn pokes out his head” (puppy steamed in a pig’s stomach). Yum. Back to top Amoymagic Guide to Xiamen and Fujian Roads have improved greatly!

Highway Heaven Fujian’s modern highways are shrinking our convoluted province faster than Chinese jeans washed in hot water. Highways bore through mountains and arch across deep valleys. And every meter is meticulously manicured with grass, shrubs, bougainvillea, azaleas, a kaleidoscope of potted plants, and “Cherish the Greenery!” signs. I love the new highways. They are a real contrast from the dirt roads common only a decade ago! But they fly right past delightful little towns like Shizhong (适中), about 170 km west of Xiamen.

Shizhong’s plain has some fascinating 4-story rammed-earth Hakka Castles. These aren’t tourist traps. Real people live and work here, and when you show up on their doorstep they’ll grin and say, “You’ve come! Have some tea!” You might as well sit down because they’re going to keep offering it until you do! Home of the 1929 Gutian Conference of the Chinese Communist Party

1929 Gutian Conference Center 古田会议旧址 Mao was in West Fujian (Minxi), the “Holy Land of Chinese Communism,” when he penned, “A single spark can start a prairie fire!” But it was one heck of a spark!

Recently, the author of “Culture and Landscapes of West Fujian” wrote this pulse-pounding paragraph:

Dr. Bill hamming it up as a PLA soldier“Nowadays, step into Minxi thisDoes it look like my pants are falling down?  That's because they are! sacred land, tracing the footprint of revolution herald, and we still can feel the warm of kindling which set the prairie of ablaze and touch the pulse of revolution struggle which was blistering the heaven, boiling the mountains, and shaking heaven and earth and taste indeed that the revolution leader and the herald they rushed around, searched about and conquered numerous difficulties and endured all kinds of hardships and die for nations and natives with a generosity.”
In front of the school house where the Maoist  "school" of thought helped get its start

In Dec. 1929, the Fourth Red Army held its conference in an elementary school (which is why they call Maoism a ‘school’ of thought). This school was originally built in 1848 as the Liao family’s ancestral hall. The sign above the school reads, “The Eternal Radiance/Glory of the Gutian Conference" (古田会议永放光芒.). The nearby Gutian Congress Exhibition Hall, Fujian’s largest revolutionary museum, was built in 1974 and has over 7,303 historical relics—not including the relic selling entrance tickets.
Historical plaque of Gutian Conference Center Inside the Gutian conference center Mao Zedong slept here; George Washington slept in the room next door
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Rattan and bamboo furniture sold beside the highway to ChangtingBamboozled An elderly couple waved as I passed, andNear Pengkou many people sell bamboo and wood products I wondered where they got their beautiful bamboo rocking chairs. I got my answer a few kilometers down the road.

Between Longyan and Pengkou (about the 266 km. marker), roadside vendors display an astonishing variety of wood, bamboo and rattan products. They sell everything from 50-cent bamboo stools to bamboo mattresses, car seat covers, couches, chairs and tables, massive cutting boards, and artistic root sculptures (which are also found south of Wuyi Mountain). On sheets of black plastic beside the highway are strips of Longyan’s famous sweet potato, drying in the sun.

Fortunately, the dried sweet potato sold in stores is usually
majestic South China tiger ( Amoy Tiger) in Fujian Province's Meihua Mountain Nature Reservepackaged in hygienic factories.

The Meihua Mountain (梅花山) Nature Reserve is a wonderland of waterfalls, rolling wooded hills, strange peaks, and breathtaking caverns, and is home to almost 1500 kinds of plants and hundreds of varieties of reptiles, birds, and animals, including 40 endangered species like leopards, black bears, and rare South China tigers. (Click for photos of these tigers!)

South China Tiger ( Amoy Tiger) Meihua Mountain Nature Reserve Fujian ChinaIn August, 2000, Longyan launched a $17.6 million USD (donations appreciated!) tiger protection project because less than 30 remain in the wild, and only 59 in zoos. They hope that by 2010, the six protected tigers will have bred and raised the population to 100. I don’t see how six tigers can do that unless they spike their food with Viagra. But on July 20, 2001, Zhongzhong and Qiuqiu were born to Yuanyuan and Xiongxiong.
Good good start start!
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Longkong Caverns (龙硿洞) When I visited Yanshi Town’s Long Kong Caverns 15 years ago, the only illumination was our guide’s flashlight, which died 2/3 of the way through the tour. As we held hands and slipped and slid through the caverns inky depths I vowed, “Never again!” But today the caverns are well developed, well lit, and well worth the 48 km drive from Longyan City. The caverns include 14 smaller caves. The largest cavern is 20 m high, 50 m wide, and can hold 1,000 people (provided they’ve had a light lunch).

Three “Immortal Doors” are in the front cave. One door leads to certain death. Just kidding. The middle door leads to the Stone Elephant and the Stone Bed. They say the Stone Bed is restful, but I thought it was hard and damp, like a petrified waterbed. But it probably beats the ‘room and board’ I’ve gotten in some local hotels.

Like everywhere else in China, locals have whiled away the past 5,018 years (Click Here for explanation of 5018 years) by naming every rock, nook, and cranny, both above ground and below. LongKong Caverns has Stone Frog Leaping into Pond, Guanyin goddess, Most Exalted Lord Lao, and Running Horse, where dripping water supposedly sounds like hoof beats. The most striking formation is the Stone Bells, which ring if you strike them. Other favorites include Spring Plowing, River Snails, Wax Gourd, Bamboo Grove (in Jade Cave), Boa, Flying White Dragons, Cloth Curtains, and the Yellow Umbrella, which might provide shelter from the dripping horse.
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Subterranean Immortal Lake (仙湖) in Yongding’s Fushi Town is little known but nonetheless spectacular. The underground complex has dozens of halls, and the ten-meter-high hall, “Dragon’s Palace in the Western Sea” covers 10,000 square meters. Tourists are ferried to the subterranean sea’s center to see a 10 m high column that is strikingly similar to Long Kong’s Stone Bells because it rings when struck.

Zhangping’s Yongfu Flower Town (永福), originally a She stronghold, really blooms during the Flower Fair on the 6th day of the Chinese New Year. At 755 meters elevation, this ancient town enjoys the perfect climate for raising exotic fruit like tangerines and honey peaches, and the hundreds of varieties of flowers (like camellias, orchids and azaleas) sold throughout China and other Southeast Asian countries. Yongfu is also famous for its bamboo hats, beautifully wrought rattan furniture, and its own unique style of paper-cuts, a folk art found throughout China.

Yongfu historical attractions include the Aotou Porcelain Site, Liuxiu Tower, Changqing Castle, Huigong Bridge, and Buyun Bridge.
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Friend’s Crossing (朋口, Pengkou), just south of Longyan, is a “T” intersection thronged with vendors and a few dozen men lazing on motorcycles—the rural version of taxis. A grandpa leading his water buffalo and calf up the middle of the highway ignores honking drivers. He knows that if you hit his animals, he’ll retire on the settlement. If you kill the farmer himself, his family will retire and worship his remains at the ancestral shelf.

To Pengkou’s left lies Changting, the “Little Red Shanghai. To the right is lovely Liancheng’s Guanzai Mountain, one of China’s star scenic attractions. Liancheng was also home to one of ancient China’s four greatest printing centers.Sibao Woodblock Printing

Sibao Woodblock Printing West Fujian had forests of camphor for printing blocks, and endless bamboo reserves for the famous papers made in Ninghua, Changting, and Liancheng as early as the 11th century. Burned pines produced soot for ink. Date palm fibers and mountain animals’ fur provided brushes. The pieces to the printing industry puzzle were all there, but it still came together almost by accident.
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Chinese invented ‘rag paper’ around 2,100 years ago, and the
Arabs learned the process from their prisoners in the 8th century (Europeans learned these same secrets about the 12th century). Around 1045 A.D.,Bi Sheng invented movable type. Give that Chinese uses thousands of characters, the typesetting must have been a real chore. Personally, I’d not have the patience for it. I’m just not that type.

In the 16th century, Zou Xuesheng (1523-1598) printed some texts to educate his sons, and they in turn produced and sold texts to various schools—creating the Sibao printing industry.

By the late 1700s, over 100 families (60% of some villages’ populations) produced and sold books. The Zou and Ma families’ presses produced over 1,000 books, including Emperor Kangxi’s Dictionary, the Four Classics, the Children’s Treasury of Knowledge, as well as various encyclopedias, almanacs, and fengshui manuals. But the city was so remote that it remained relatively obscure. Some printing magnates’ mansions remain today, most printing stalls are now pigpens or storage bins.

While Sibao’s books have vanished, the inspiration for many a poet remains—in nearby Guanzai Mountain.
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The Chengang Wine (沉缸酒) Factory, established in 1957 in Longyan, just off the 319 Highway, is well worth a visit. I’ve toured the place thrice, and while the speeches can be murder by monologue, the factory tour is fascinating. The Apostle Paul may have meant Chengang Wine when he urged young Timothy to no longer drink water but take a little wine for his stomach’s sake. The 200-year-old recipe for Chengang Wine has 31 Chinese medicines that cure anything that ails you, and a few things that don’t.
The 500 employees and 96 technicians put out 10,000 tons of the sweet yellow wine each year.
Address: #78 Shuangquan Rd., Xinluo District, Longyan.
Phone: (0597)221-1222.

A Xiamen University professor told me China had 5000 years of history--but that was 18 years ago.
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