Drumbrake's Travels

My trip reports

Fujian and Eastern Guangdong

with one comment

May 2009

Thorntree Report

This is a short 6 day trip report starting and finishing in Hong Kong. As I had previously visited Xiamen, I didn’t go this time, although I’d highly recommend others to visit it and Gulangu island.

Day 1 Hong Kong to Quanzhou

Kowloon to LoWu via MTR train. Everyone leaving Hong Kong has to complete a health declaration, while foreign passport holders have to complete a second one before going through Chinese immigration. There are several bus stations in Shenzhen,and two in Lo Wu. As we were going to Fujian, we used Qiaoshe Bus Station -turn left as you exit immigration and take the stairs over the rail tracks. Bought tickets for overnight sleeper bus to Quanzhou 泉州 in Fujian (Rmb 250). Departure 21.20. We were early so went to Laurel restaurant in Lo Wu Commercial City – Peking duck for Rmb128.

Overnight bus was fairly new and comfortable. Problems with the road and traffic though. Heavy traffic as people make use of the Dragon boat holiday and highways under repair leading to traffic jams. Stop start until early hours of morning, and finally get to Quanzhou around 10:30 am the next day. I think usually would be 7am.

Day 2 Quanzhou

Able to check into Quanzhou Overseas Chinese Hotel on arrival. We then walked to Qingjing Mosque and also visited the nearby puppet museum and Guandi Temple. There’s not much left of the mosque, but still worth seeing. LP lists Qingqi Shen restaurant near the temple but we couldn’t find it. In the afternoon we took a bus to Chongwu 崇武 (Rmb 10, 1 hour). Entrance I think was Rmb 25 (half price for students) although in truth there is not much to see. The sculpture park is quite interesting. Back to Quanzhou and streets nearby the Overseas hotel have been renovated in an old style – quite nice to wander and there are tasty and reasonable restaurants around, some with English menus. Quanzhou is quite a nice place – the only problem we had was with the two bus stations and finding out which bus goes from which one. The hotel, booked through elong for Rmb300, was good, and included a very good buffet breakfast.

Day 3 Quanzhou to Yongding

Caught morning (08:40,others at 0730, 0950 and 1120) bus from Quanzhou 泉州市 to Longyan 龍岩 (Rmb 92, 3.5 hours). Good comfortable bus on new highways. At Longyan were able to transfer to a minibus almost immediately to Hukeng 湖坑鎮 . This was a ‘limitless capacity’ type of bus. As soon as you think it would be impossible for anyone else to squeeze in, another couple get on! At Longyan bus station people will know by your appearance that you are heading for the toulou and will probably show you this map. The minibus takes around 2 hours to Hukeng and costs Rmb 21. I think the bus terminates at the ‘soil building somebody else restaurant hotel’, but we got off at Hukeng and then caught a motorbike taxi (20 rmb, around 30minutes) to Yanxiang toulou 衍香樓 and Huanji toulou 環極樓 (see area C of map). Hunaji toulou wanted Rmb15 for admission, while Yanxiang was free. We ended up staying in Yangxiang (Rmb 80 for a double).

The area around Yangxiang toulou is nice to walk in – lots of rice fields and other toulous in various shapes and sizes and degrees of decay. At Yangxiang we had a big bowl of noodles for Rmb 5 each, and ordered chicken for dinner (freshly slaughtered and washed in nearby stream – about Rmb100 for complete meal with beer). In the toulou our room was on the second floor, a hot shower was on the ground floor in the centre of the toulou, and the toilets were outside. You were given a pot for going to the toilet in the middle of the night. I’d recommend staying in this toulou – very quite and peaceful and some nice walks. The owner is also very friendly – but no English is spoken.

Day 4 Yongding Toulous

We used the same motorbike taxi to go to Xiayang Town Jiqing Lou Cluster 下洋鎮初湲土樓群 (area C of map) – this took about 90 minutes. This is a popular place to visit – there were 4 tour buses when we were there. By walking up the hill you get to see an overview of the clusters – there are basically 3 round ones and a square one, plus other buildings. Entrance cost is Rmb 50 (students half price). The first toulou we went in was almost empty, but had rooms for rent, including one with an ensuite! There were also other shared bathrooms on the first and second floors. price was around Rmb 100. The main problem with staying here would be the number of visitors, and also the size of the settlement.

The middle toulou was the oldest – built in 1700s and now turned into a museum. On the top floor there are examples of the rooms toulous had, on the first floor displays of the history of hakka names and on the ground floor more exhibits of toulou life. All quite interesting. We had lunch in a restaurant across the road from the toulous – cheap and tasty. The motorbike then took us back to Xiayang Town – total cost for the morning hire Rmb100.

From Xiayang下洋鎮 we were able to catch a ‘limitless luggage space’ minibus to Dapu 大埔縣 1 hour (Rmb 18) where we then changed to another bus to Meizhou 梅州市 Rmb20 (1 hour). On arrival at Meizhou we were told we had missed the last bus to Chaozhou 潮州市(around 15:30) – although we are not sure – perhaps there are two bus stations with later departures from the other. Anyway, we decided to use a private car to get to Chaozhou for Rmb 315 (around 2 1/2 hours, mostly on highway except for very bumpy first 30 minutes).

Day 5 Chaozhou and Shantou

We stayed at the Chaozhou Hotel (opposite the bus station). Chaozhou is quite a friendly place – lots of pedicabs to take you around for around Rmb 5. First night we tried to go to Ciyuan Jiujia restaurant (recommended in LP). Pedicab driver said not very good, and when we got there it was empty so decided to give it a miss. After looking around and failing to find many (besides Pizza hut, KFC and McDonalds), we ended up eating in the hotel – only the western restaurant open and food not great!

Morning was better – walked around and saw Chofucian Academy 海陽縣儒學宮 , Guangji Gate Tower and city walls 廣濟門樓 ,Guangji Bridge 廣濟橋 and Kaiyuan Temple 開元寺.the area around the city walls and Kaiyuan temple is being renovated – if some restaurants opened there it would make a nice place to visit. the city walls, while renovated, are not visited much! Nobody else was on them for the time we were walking along them. There is also the ‘Chaozhou West Lake’ and park – which we saw briefly the previous evening. Looked ok.

Chaozhou Hotel is ok -automatic 40% discount on arrival (paid Rmb 368) and were given one Rmb 20 coupon for breakfast (cheapest set is Rmb28).

Around lunch we caught bus from Chaozhou to Shantou 汕頭市 Rmb 12 (1 hour) – frequent departures.

Arrival at Shantou bus station is a bit of a nightmare. On departure from bus station you are met by physically aggressive taxi touts. This was in great contrast to all the other places we had visited on this trip. Finally paid one Rmb 10 to take us to the Shantou Overseas Chinese Hotel. In Shantou we went to the Stone Fort Park (not that impressive) and had a walk around to try to find some ‘colonial buildings’ as mentioned in LP with very limited success. Food was also a little of a problem with Zhonglu restaurant closing at 13:30 when we tried to go for lunch, and Chaozou restaurant being open but empty – the food was ok though. For dinner, we bought some Chiu Chow goose from the market and ate in hotel room.

Day 6 Shantou to Hong Kong

Bus from city bus station (very close to Overseas Chinese hotel so no need to deal with taxi touts) to Shenzhen. Cost was Rmb 110 and took 5 hours. Ticket price was Rmb150, so I think we got a ‘group ticket’ – we bought from an agent next to the bus station. Immigration through LoWu was easy – remember to get a health declaration form.
Overall I’d highly recommend the Yongding toulous, and Quanzhou and Chaozhou are both worth visiting if you are in the area. I’d give Shantou a miss. It would be a good idea to combine the toulous with Xiamen and Gulangu island.

Cross posted on NE Asia branch

Review and a couple of pictures of Yanxianglou Earth Building Hostel on tripadvisor

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Written by drumbrake

September 11, 2010 at 11:31 am

One Response

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  1. Thanks for your informative reports. We’ll be going to Fujian 10-16 April 2012. Your insight helped us to clarify our plans.

    Jackie (Jacqueline)

    March 11, 2012 at 9:24 pm


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