Chinese have always been known to be gracious hosts, they always make sure their guests are well taken care of and also WELL FED! My relatives would feed me 5-6 meals a day - rice, noodles, soups, etc.. non stop.. lol.
What caught me by surprise is when we went for course dinner at restaurants, it's an over 20 dish dinner for 10 person! I was told it's ashamed if the guests go back hungry.. so i had to stuff myself silly for 2 dinners.. *grin*
Earthern Houses (Tulou) in Yongding County
Earthen houses represent a vernacular architecture specific to Jiangxi, Fujian and Guangdong provinces following the flow of the Hakka people from central China to the South. As most Hakka resided in mountains, communal houses made of compacted earth were built to provide protection against bandits and wild animals. The older examples of this style of construction consist of interior buildings enclosed by huge peripheral ones holding hundreds of rooms and dwellers.
Over twenty thousand of these houses still stand today, ten of which are over 600 years old. Tulou is regarded as a living fossil of the construction style of China and Representative of a unique style of Chinese communal architecture. It is also proposed to be classified as World Heritage Cultural Site . .
With all the halls, storehouses, wells and bedrooms inside, the huge towerlike building functions almost as a small fortified city. Earthen houses are made of earth, stone, bamboo and wood, all readily available materials. After constructing the walls with rammed earth, branches, strips of wood and bamboo chips were laid in the wall as "bones" to reinforce it. The end result is a well lit, well-ventilated, windproof, quakeproof building that is warm in winter and cool in summer.
There are many architectural designs of tulou in this area with a well-concentrated distribution of clusters. The most common designs are rectangular, round, triangular, pentagonal and octagonal. Other designs also include D-shaped and “ú(the Chinese character for ?gsun?h).
Chengqilou is the biggest tulou in Yongding County following a very classical design with a large central hall. This tulou is the communal house for the Lim family, up to 400 families used to stay in this tulou, all descended from a common ancestor, from about 300 years ago.
Chengqilou is 4 storey high. Take note of the mud brick exterior, windows are only located at the upper levels. I learned that these windows were originally built for security purposes, hence the scarcity of windows.
You can see doorways at the each level. These doorways represent different families, all relatives. Each family's apartment consists of a room on each levels. The first floor room is the kitchen; the second floor, immediately above the first, is for storage, and the top 2 floors, is the bedroom. There are no interior stairs, and no running water.
The red strips of paper around the door frames are traditional couplets consisting of poetic blessings evoking prosperity for the new year.
Most of the people are farmers, and this was much in evidence the day we were there, though many of the fields were empty of crops. Some work as tour guides and have stalls selling souvenirs. I asked about the economy, and learned that of the 500-plus people of the village, about 40 percent live outside. The hard currency they earn and send back helps supplement the crops that are grown for the family's consumption or for sale.