Longgang Highlights Tour
On Saturday 21st June, a group of 30 people went on a very interesting tour to visit the Hakka Folk Customs Museum & Dapeng Fortress in Longgang, Shenzhen. The group included couples, friends and children. We set out by a hired minibus, firstly to the Hakka Museum, which is approximately a 1.5 hour drive from Shekou, in Saturday morning traffic.
After driving through the city traffic and modern buildings, it seemed somewhat surreal to arrive outside the ancient residence in Longgang town, now the Hakka folk culture museum, which appears strikingly grand.
Built in 1817, it is the ancestral house of the Luos. (The village was formerly called Luo Rui He village) The buildings are squarely enclosed, with walls 1 metre thick and 6 metres high; there is a moon pool and a threshing floor at their front, and a small hill or flower terrace at the back. There are watchtowers at the buildings’ four corners. Along the top of the walls are patrol courses with portholes. The inner buildings are symmetrical, with three central houses and two horizontal houses at their core. Each house is independent and well concealed. The houses generally have one story, and occasionally two stories, in the principal or central house. Sometimes a half-story tower building is added to the principal room of the middle house. Small yards or lanes between the horizontal houses provide the traffic network inside the enclosed compound.
Around the ancestral temple in the centre of the compound are pavilions, towers, halls, lobbies, chambers, wells, courtyards and passageways of different architectural styles. The temple uses the typical layout of residences in North China, proof that the owners traveled all the way to the south to settle down here. The four-cornered tower housing is in the style of Hakka people from the south of JiangXi while the dragon-like walled housing style is that of XingMei Hakka people, located east of Guangdong.
Some of the residences house farm tools and furniture are left over from the Qing Dynasty. It is enjoyable to stroll around the courtyards and look at some of the old equipment and farming tools on display. The residence was put on Guangdongs’s list of protected historical sites in 2002.
After our visit to the Hakka Museum, it was time for lunch. We drove to Nan‘ao town, located in the picturesque Dapeng bay where we settled into a seafood lunch fresh from the nearby harbour! The sea here is said to be teeming with rare sea species including sea urchin and abalone.
After lunch, we made our way to Dapeng Fortress in east Longgang. On the way we passed Daya Bay Nuclear Power Plant, China’s first and largest Nuclear power plant, built in 1994 at a cost of $5 billion using mainly French technology.
Arriving outside the fortress, you find yourself several centuries removed from modern Shenzhen. This well-preserved walled town dates back to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and was originally built in 1394 to resist Japanese pirates who’d been harassing the southern coastal areas of Guangdong. This military base safeguarded an area that now covers Hong Kong and east of Shenzhen.
On Sept. 4, 1839, five British naval vessels launched a surprise attack on the Chinese maritime forces at Dapeng Fortress in the waters off Kowloon. Chinese troops in fishing boats, led by General Lai Enjue, defeated the better-equipped enemy. The Kowloon naval battle is now widely considered the start of the Opium Wars.
Not long after the battle, Lai was promoted to commander of the Guangdong Navy. In 1844, the emperor allocated a large sum to build a 2,500-square-meter mansion and inscribed “Zhenwei General Mansion” on the board above the gate. The stately Lai Mansions then became one of the biggest attractions in the fortress. The fortress survived natural and civilian disasters over 600 years. Three gates of the fortress – General Lai and his clan’s mansions, General Liu Qilong’s mansions, Tianhou Palace, Houwang Temple and Zhaogong Temple- are all still in good condition.
The fortress compound contains homes, temples, shops and courtyards that look pretty much the same as when they were built centuries ago. It occupies an area of 110, 000 sq meters with a rectangular plan.
The complex structures at the general’s house feature painted carved beams and columns and many couplets are posted on the door. You can see the high level of architecture typical of the Ming and Qing dynasties.
Lining both sides of the narrow stone streets are residential buildings that feature black tiles and exquisite carvings on the window panels and eaves, completing the unique rural scenery.
The Tomb of Zhenwei General (who Manifests Might) Lai Enjue is located Wangqitang Village of Dapeng Town. Lai Enjue was originally buried in Dakangshang Village and was relocated to the present place in the Third Year of Guangxu Period of Qing Dynasty.
For people tired of the bustling metropolis, this place provides a relaxing environment and the top of the southern gate of the Fortress offers a clear view of the sea.
After spending the afternoon wandering through the town and admiring its various characteristics, we departed for Shekou. It was a very interesting and enjoyable tour, spent with a great group of people. Having previously heard many times that Shenzhen had so little to offer in terms of sightseeing, these two places are real gems and well worth a visit.
Thanks to Mary Ann and the SACs team for their great work in organizing the tour, I look forward to the next outing !
Hakka Folk Customs Museum and Enclosures & The Crane Lake New Residence
Address: Luoruihe Village, Longgang Township, Shenzhen
Phone: 0755/28835108. Cost: RMB20. Open: Daily 10am-6pm.
Address: Pengcheng Village, Dapeng Town.
Phone: 0755/84319269. Cost RMB20. www.szdpsc.com Open 10am-9pm
Dapeng Ancient Town
Pengcheng Village, Dapeng Town, Longgang District, Shenzhen
Admission Fee RMB 20
Tel. 755 8431 7178
Bus 360. 364 then by special line bus route No.. 818
Some back ground information
The Hakka (Mandarin: Kèjiā, 客家) are a subgroup of the Han Chinese people who live predominantly in the provinces of Guangdong, Jiangxi and Fujian in China. Their ancestors were often said to have arrived from what is today’s central China centuries ago.
During the reign of Qing Dynasty’s Emperor Kangxi, the coastal regions were evacuated by imperial edict for almost a decade due to the danger posed by the remnants of the Ming court who had fled to what is now Taiwan. When the threat was eliminated, Kangxi Emperor issued an edict to re-populate the fertile coastal regions. To aid the move, each family was given money to begin their new lives; newcomers were registered as “Guest Families” (客戶, kèhù).
They later also migrated overseas to various nations throughout the world. The Hakka have had a significant influence on the course of Chinese and overseas Chinese history. Some well known Hakka descendants are Actress Fann Wong (Singaporean) and former Prime Minister of Thailand, Thaksin Shinawatra.
Due to their agrarian lifestyle, the Hakka have a unique architecture based on defense and communal living and a hearty savory cuisine based on an equal balance between texturised meat and vegetables, and fresh vegetables. Unlike the majority of other Han Chinese women, Hakka women did not practice foot binding.
Their distinctive earthen houses (tulou) make up their communal entities, which are fortified against marauding bandits and generally made of compacted earth, bamboo, wood and stone. Glutinous rice and sugar boiled with water were used as glue to hold the building materials together. They contain many rooms on several stories, so that several families can live together. Tulou comes in a variety of styles and can be circular, triangular, rectangular, octagonal or other shapes.