03.11.2013 - 05.11.2013 16 °C
Sunday we left Shanghai and took the bullet train to Xiamen. Being my first experience of a bullet train, I thought I'd be able to feel the G shock on my face but it felt just like a normal train! Bit disappointing. We then took a minibus 2 hours to our stop at a tiny village in the Fujian Province where the Hakka people live. The countryside is so pretty, it's full of mountain peaks and streams. It's also full of windy mountain-side 'roads' (I use this term loosely) which made the minibus trip rather interesting!! (I was pooing my pants).
Monday was our first full day, and we spent it visiting several traditional roundhouses - one of which is the oldest in the world at 700 years old. We also visited the largest roundhouse in the world, which can house up to 72 families! The houses are huge circular constructions that are home to many families. The inner circle is a courtyard-type communal area where they'd most often have a temple, which they would use for various occassions. Each house within the construction is four storeys high, with only the top two floors having windows - so that in times past during periods of war the enemy couldn't climb in! The houses are still in use today, although many are now tourist attractions. The ones we visited offered tea tasting, which I really enjoyed!
During our time, we visited a tea plantation, which meant more of the awful mountain-side roads to get there, thankfully the minibus got stuck halfway up so we got to walk! The tea plantation was fairly interesting, but the views it gave were the real highlight. I wouldn't mind working as a tea picker with those views everyday!
Monday night the village was holding a festival. Apparantly only something they do once a year, so we felt very lucky! The locals were all so friendly and welcoming! There was even some fireworks, which was cool what with it being bonfire night the next day at home!
Some of the group playing poker - only during an official festival is gambling legal in China. Ben won!
As with each of the countryside stops we've made, (and especially with this being the last in China) I really wanted to stay longer. The pace of life and beautiful scenery make it so hard to leave! We're now however off to Macau, travelling our last night train of this part of the trip!