Nanlou is situated not far from south of Chikan town in the Tengjiao Village by the Tanjiang River. The Diaolou was built by a Situ clan (司徒氏) in 1921 as a defensive tower in the village. Nanlou is a 7-storey building of 19 meters high. Today, Nanlou is a memorial garden to commemorate seven brave Situ clans that fight against Japanese troops in 1945.
On July 1945, the Japanese soldiers swooped to Chikan by land, air and river. The warriors of the self-defense teams of Situs from four towns used Nanlou as a defensive tower to fight against the Japanese soldiers. On the 17th July 1945, the Japanese soldiers took control of Chikan town and left with 7 Situ soldiers, Situ Xu, Xitu Xuan, Sity Yu, Sity Chang, Sity Yao, Situ Nong, and Situ Binyo , fought bravely against the enemies in 7 days and night even running out of all ammunition and food supplies. Lastly, they were arrested to the Japanese supreme head quarter in Situs library, cruelly tortured and brutally killed. Their bodies were chopped in pieces and thrown into the river.
The Nanlou Memorial Garden is an important site for the local community of these villages. You are allowed to walk up the Nanlou Tower, and have a good views of Tanjiang River.
Admission: 30 Yuan or 180 Yuan of the Joint-tickets to see other Diaolou in Kaiping.
In Chinese: 南楼， nan lou
The Chicken Old Town is situated about 18KM from downtown Kaiping. It is an old suburban town with a bus station surrounded by old shop-houses without much of maintenance. The streetscape of Qilou Buildings facing the Tanjiang River is interesting to photograph and making a movie with the original untouched buildings of the Qing Dynasty with the charm of Western architecture of historical China. This town was established during the Qing Dynasty under the governance of Emperor Shunzhi. It has more than 350 years of history from a country market place into the business center of Kaiping. The prosperity of this ancient town was mostly attributed to the business competition between the Guan (关) and Situ families (司徒).
The Overseas Chinese incorporated elements of Western architecture into their new homes. There are the three-story structures with a store front on the street level and one or two residential apartments upper floors. Do they look similar to those old shop-houses that you have seen in Malaca, Singapore, Penang or Kuala Lumpur?
Today, the Chikan Old Town will be slowly becoming a famous tourist town, mostly visitors from big cities like Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Macau, Shenzhen, and etc. It is a great place to taste its local foods, walk around old alleys, and enjoy the old Qilou buildings (骑楼). There are several attractions might be worth a look; Guan Family Library, Situ Family Library, and Film City (under construction).
Also read, 2012 Chikan Old Town.
In Chinese: 赤坎古镇，chi kan gu zhen
The Guan Family Library was built in 1929 and completed in 1931. This library was funded by the Oversea Chinese of Guan families from America, Canada, Hong Kong and Macau. The building was initially built of three storeys, later they found that it was important to upgrade the facility to five storeys to show their competitiveness to Situ families, their main competitor. The Library was not only a place for its members to read and upgrade their knowledge of the outside world, but also a meeting place for its members to social and exchange ideas.
This unique architectural building has a strong influence on Western design especially the Portuguese shape designed clock tower with colored glass windows.
This Library is open to the public, but it was not very welcomed by its staffs. You need to keep quiet at all time while in the library.
In Chinese: 关族图书管， guan zu tu shu guan.
Lin Lu Villa was built by Guang Ding Lin (关定林) in 1936. The building is named after his name. Guang Ding Lin was once emigrated to Maxico doing business. After he saved enough money, he returned to this village and build this villa for his family.
I found the western door's and window's frames are beautifully designed. The interior is similar to Jun Lu Villa, Guangdong design furnitures with western fixtures like its lightings and titling.
Also read, Ma Jiang Long Village part 1 and part 2.
In Chinese: 林庐， lin lu
Jun Lu Villa is one of the two villas that are open to the public. It was built by Guan Chong Jun (关崇骏) , used his name for the building. Guan Chong Jun emigrated to Canada and returned to the Village in 1936 to build this villa for his family. It is a 4-storey building with traditional Guangdong furnitures and western fixtures like the lightings and the windows. Comparing to other Diaolou I have seen, this Diaolou has an emergency exit hole that pipe through the entire building.
Also read, Ma Jiang Long Village Part 1 and Part 2.
In Chinese: 骏庐
Jin Jiang Li Village lies on the west bank of Tanjiang River Valley, Xian'gang Township. Members of Huang clan (黄) first moved here from their old ancestral village of Chang'an in the Guang Xu period (1875-1908). They built the village and named it Jin Jiang Li means "Embroidered River Village" from its location.
Originally, the village comprises of Guangdong low-rise architectural residential houses. In the early 20th century, members of the village who lived overseas returned to the village and started to build the defensive towers behind the low-rise houses. Ruishi Lou (瑞石楼) is the tallest and most beautiful Diaolou not only in this village, but among the best in Kaiping. Jin Jiang Lou (锦江楼) was built by the fund of the village's residents. So, the village families could take refuge from bandits and floods from this tower. And, Shengfeng Lou (升峰楼) is a unique Diaolou designed by a French architect. It is now the official attraction of the Jin Jiang Li Village.
During my visit, this village was having major renovation of the pedestrian walkway and some of the houses. It will be soon another famous attraction in Kaiping.
Also read, the story of Diaolou in Jin Jiang Li.
Admission: Y50 or Y180 for the Joint-ticket to see all Diaolou in Kaiping.
In Chinese: 锦江里碉楼群， Jin Jiang Li Diao Lou Qun.
Mingshi Lou was built by Fang Run Wen (方润文) in 1925. He named this building as "Mingshi (铭石）“ to commemorate his father's hardship working as a stone-cutter. Mingshi means "remember the stones" in Chinese. His father, Fang Shou Xi (方守锡), was a former second degree candidate in the provincial examination in the late Qing Dynasty. Due to the break-up of Qing Dynasty, he lost his job.
Fang Run Wen emigrated to Chicago, United States in the early 1920s. He worked as a businessman in the states, and earned enough to return to the village to build his residence Diaolou in 1925. He had three wives and children living in this Diaolou. This is the biggest Diaolou in Zili Village. It is built of reinforced concrete and comprises six storeys. The lower part of the Diaolou has a plain and simple design, while both 5th and 6th storeys have a veranda with ionic columns and Baroque decoration. On the top floor, a hexagonal pavilion has Chinese design with European style columns.
Don't miss this while visiting Zili Village.
In Chinese: 铭石楼， ming shi lou
Zili Village lies on the plain of the Tanjiang River in Tangkou Township. It comprises of three li (li means a unit of village locally) He'anli (和安里), He'anli (合安里) and Yong'anli (永安里). All the families here have the same last name, Fang (方). Currently, the village only left with about 70 residents. There are five to six times of the local residents have emigrated to oversea and bigger cities. They have emigrated to countries like the United States, Canada, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Fiji, Hong Kong and Macau. Many of them used to engage in restaurant, laundry, grocery and agriculture in their adopted countries. Unlike the other residents of Kaiping villages, the residents of Zili had a tough life abroad. In the early 1920s, a lot of the residents returned to the village to buy land, then built their own villa or Diaolou and to get married and have a family on their own. There are 92 residential buildings within the boundary of Zili Village, including 9 defensive Diaolou and 6 village lu mansions.
During the Cultural Revolution 1950 to 1970, China had the policy of Land Reform. Many of the owners again moved abroad either oversea, Hong Kong and Macau.
In 1980s, Guangdong was being one of the special economy zones in China. Many of the residents started to move to bigger cities to seek for a better life.
This is the best Diaolou village in Kaiping you can visit to learn more the history of the Oversea Chinese, experience the life of the rural Diaolou village, and gain your architectural knowledge of Diaolou in Kaiping.
It was declared as World Cultural Heritage Site since Jun 28, 2007.
Mingshi Lou, Yunhuan Lou and Yesheng Villa are open to the public.
Admission: Y80 per person / Or a Joint-Ticket Y180 with other attractions in Kaiping.
Also, read the stories of some owners of Zili Village. and Mingshi Lou.
In Chinese: 自立村， zi li cun.
Li Yuan has a beautiful exhibition hall. The entire building is painted yellow with a colorful Western dome as the roof. The exhibition displays information of the Xie Family, and the history of Kaiping Diaolou in general. There is a small cinema broadcasting the history of Kaiping Diaolou as well.
It is worth spending a little time to see the hall and the roof of the building.
The Garden in Li Yuan is not very big as comparing to many gardens I had visited in other ancient or historical residences in China. It is nice to walk around it specially crossing its unique bridges with the Chinese pavilion of western influence designs. There is an arch gate and a book-bash platform in a straight line with the statue of Xie Weili under the Tiger Hill. I think they can do better than what I had seen in term of maintenance and the gardening.
The Bird Nest Structure and Vine Pavilion are rarely seen in China especially in a rural village. You will see these in Li Yuan or Li Garden. They were built in between 1926-1936.
The Bird Nest: It occupies a total of 126 square meters land in the garden. The roof has antique Romanesque design, and the middle part has a design of the Chinese folk art paper cutting through flower round case.
Vine Pavilion: It occupies a total of 150 square meters land in the garden. The roof looks like an England Queen Crown with reinforced concrete walls through flower cage. The entire structure has western design of an outdoor pavilion. The fence around the structure has the Chinese design. It is a structure of western design made out of teak frame.
In Chinese: 鸟巢 & 花藤亭， niao chao & hua teng ting
Yu Pei Villa was built beside a man-made canal in Li garden. It has a built-up of 64 square meters, and a 4-storey building. This villa was built apart from other mansions despite it was considered a luxury mansion in Li garden. There were no official information regard this villa, but it was believed that this villa was built to commemorate the love of Xie Weili to his second wife, Tam Yuk Ying (譚玉英) 。The villa has typical Chinese house design, Japanese style bedrooms, and Italian style living room. The villa was placed in a traquity part of Li garden when they fell in love.
In Chinese: 毓培别墅, yu pei bie shu.
The Pan Wen Mansion was built for the residence of Xie Weili' brother, Xie Weiwen and his family. It looks pretty much the same like Pan Li Mansion. It is named after Xie Weiwen and his father Xie Shangpan, so it is called Pan Wen. It has the build-up of 146 square meters, a 3-storey building.
I think this is the greatest mansion of all because it is facing the Li garden. You can see the Bird Nest Structure and Vine Pavilion from its windows. It is also features Western and Chinese architectural designs.
Don't miss! It is also open to the public.
In Chinese: 泮文楼，pan wen lou
Jiong Mansion was the residence of the uncle of Xie Weili, Xie Shengjiong. The building was named after him, Xie Shengjiong. So, the building simply called Jiong Lu (炯庐) means Jiong Residence in Chinese. It is situated in between Pan Li Mansion and Le Tian Tower.
It also features the blend between East and West designs.
It is opened to the public to visit.
In Chinese: 炯庐, jiong lu
Pan Li Mansion is the main building in Li Yuan, which was the residence for Xie Weili and his four wives . It is named Pan Li as the combine names of Xie Weili and his father Xie Shangpan, so Pan Li. The building was completed in April 1931 with a built-up of 148 square meters, a 3-storey building. The mansion showcases the typical house of a rich oversea Chinese for example the floor and the staircases are tiled with Italian mosaics, the western design lights and plaster ceiling with the contrast of the Chinese arts and paintings as well as the furnitures.
As shown in the picture is the manually operated water pump was made in Ohio, USA. It was imported from the USA to use in this house when it was built. It was quite an advanced water pumping system used in rural China during 1920s and 1930s.
The Pan Li Mansion is opened for the public to visit.
In Chinese: 泮立楼，pan li lou.