The Watch Tower of Kaiping
  • Destination

    Jiangmen, Kaiping

  • Departure Time

    23 Nov 2018 (Meeting Place: China Ferry Terminal)

  • Return Time

    25 Nov 2018

  • Price

    HKD5,500 per person (double room) HKD880 per person (single room supplement)

Min. number of participants to launch: 12

last day to register: Nov 07, 2018

  • DAY
    Kaiping "Diaolou"

    Kaiping has become increasingly well known because of its "diaolou", fortified multi-storey towers. 

    They were constructed in the Kaiping area of Guangdong Province from the early Qing Dynasty (1644 to 1912) reaching a peak in the 1920's and 1930's, when there were more than 3,000 of these structures. 

    Today, approximately 1,800 "diaolou" are still standing.

    The "diaolou" served two purposes, housing and protection against forays by bandits.

    The Kaiping "diaolou" and villages were added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2007. 

    Whilst this little known region of China has a number of spectacular buildings, unfortunately not very much seems to have been documented regarding their turbulent history. Much of the appeal of a visit rests with the natural rural scenery.  

    The peaceful life that the people who built these amazing structures were looking for, unfortunately never eventuated. Many of the impoverished local people, in their desperate bid for survival, were reduced to banditry and looting.  

    The oldest existing “diaolou” is a World Cultural Heritage Site and it stands in Sanmenli Village. It was built during the Ming Dynasty, approximately 460 years ago.  

    When the 19thcentury arrived, many of Kaiping’s residents moved to Hong Kong in search of a better life and many others moved to North America. Records indicate that between 1925 and 1938 there were 140,000 Chinese in America, most of whom came from this region of Guangdong Province. 

    Many of these individuals returned home with their hard-earned fortunes and built these extraordinary structures. 

    The unusual appearance of the buildings can be attributed to the melding of traditional Chinese architecture, with both contemporary and ancient Western architectural styles.  

    As the wealthy returned to China, others who were desperate to survive, preyed upon them and an increasing number of these fortified buildings appeared. 

    Some of the watchtowers functioned purely as fortified structures where the village residents could store their belongings and seek protection in the event of attack by bandits, whilst others were privately owned watchtowers that only protected the inhabitants. These were often lavishly decorated with colonnaded balconies, high above the ground, where the occupants could catch the afternoon breezes.

    In 2007, UNESCO named the Kaiping Diaolou and Villages(开平碉楼与村落) in China as a World Heritage Site.UNESCO wrote, "...the Diaolou ... display a complex and flamboyant fusion of Chinese and Western structural and decorative forms. They reflect the significant role of émigré Kaiping people in the development of several countries in South Asia, Australasia, and North America, during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and the close links between overseas Kaiping and their ancestral homes. The property inscribed here consists of four groups of Diaolou, totaling some 1,800 tower houses in their village settings."

     

  • DAY1
    Depart Hong Kong by Ferry for Zhongshan

    Met on arrival at the Ferry Pier and proceed to the Jiangmen Wuyi Museum of Overseas Chinese. The Museum provides an excellent introduction to the sites you will be visiting.

    Continue to Kaiping and visit the Fengcai Hall, a striking building and ancestral hall of the Yee Clan. It was constructed between 1906 and 1914 and is now part of a school. The structure is an unusual melding of traditional Chinese architecture with numerous Western influences.

    Check in at the hotel and the remainder of the day is at leisure.

    Hotel: Pan Tower International Hotel  

  • DAY2
    Kaiping – Li Garden – Zili Village – Sanmenli Village - Kaiping

    Our first site today is the Li Garden, located in Beiyi Xiang. It was constructed in 1936 by Mr. Xie Weili, a Chinese emigrant to the United States. 

    The Li Garden occupies 11, 000 square metres with artificial waterways, bridges, pavilions and corridors. There are several yellow brick blue-tiled buildings in the garden, which demonstrate the fusion of western and Chinese designs, and the gardens flourish with a variety of flora, including the Chinese redbud, kapok, cypress and other precious flowers and plants. 

    Continue to beautiful Zili Village for lunch. Another World Cultural Heritage Site, this is a particularly beautiful place with numerous "diaolou" in a rural setting of ponds and pathways. It is wonderful to merely stroll at this location. It is especially photogenic. Zili Village is also very popular with painters. There is a very good history exhibition in addition to the are four “house museums” open to the public.

    At Sanmenli Village, another World Cultural Heritage Site, visit the oldest existing "diaolou". It was built during the Ming Dynasty, 460 years ago.

  • DAY3
    Kaiping – Kai Yuan Tower - Majianglong Village - Jinjiangli – Hong Kong

    The day commences with a visit to the Kai Yuan Tower. Built by a wealthy local official appointed by the Qing emperor, in a prominent position overlooking the river, the objective was to constantly attract the attention of local youths. This was because none of them had so far succeeded in the Qing dynasty’s examination system. The tower was intended to be an encouragement to work hard and achieve good results. 

    Continue to Majianglong Village, a World Cultural Heritage Site. Stroll through the bamboo forest and see some of the seven diaolou and eight villas that were constructed in the early 20thcentury. Many of the villagers emigrated to the United States, Canada, Mexico and Australia. This is a very quiet and beautiful environment and two of the villas, which are open to the public, retain their original furniture from prior to the Cultural Revolution.    

    At Jinjianli Village, also a World Cultural Heritage Site, see several of the most ornate and impressive "diaolou" in Kaiping. Stroll along the narrow alleyways, between the ancient buildings and admire expansive views over the countryside from the upper floors.

    Transfer to Zhongshan Ferry Pier.  

    Return to Hong Kong aboard high speed ferry. 

Price includes: 

- Tsim Sha Tsui / Jiangmen / Tsim Sha Tsui ferry ticket (subject to the Jiangmen ferry operation)

- Local transportation and sightseeing with English speaking guide

- 2 nights accommodation in Kaiping Pan Tower Hotel with breakfast

- All meals (23, 24 Nov: lunch + dinner, 25 Nov; lunch)

- Entry fee

- tips for local guide and driver

Price does not includes:

a - Transportation to and from the train station / pier on departure and return.

b - Visa Fees: please ensure that you hold a valid passport with at least 6 months validity remaining, together with your visa for entry to China.

c - Personal expenses such as room service charges, laundry, alcoholic drinks or beverages for personal comsumption, internet charges, fax charges, telephone calls, optional activities etc.

d - Travel Insurance. Please note that full coverage travel insurance from your country of origin should be purchased privately in advance.

 

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