I don’t usually talk about the places I stay on this blog, but I’m going to make an exception this time. That’s because one of my favorite places to stay was in the tulou area, and I got to live in an actual tulou.
The tulou I stayed at is called the Fuyulou Changdi Inn. (They have a website, but it is all chinese.) It’s a little tricky to get to, it is located inside one of the tulou villages and you need to buy an entrance ticket first, but if you call ahead one of the owners (who both speak some english) will help you. Instead of taking the bus, they actually were able to arrange a ride for me and then Mr. Lin, one of the owners, met me, helped me buy the ticket and brought me to the actual house.
And what a house it was. Take a look for yourself:
See that window on the right hand side? All the way over on the 2nd floor? That one was my room. Cool, right?
Here’s the house from another angle.
The tulou was built over a hundred years ago, by the great-grandfather of the owner. Three brother built it together which is reflected in the three entrances. The first entrance was for the 2nd brother (and is now the hotel portion), the middleÂ entranceÂ was for the oldest brother, and the furthest entrance is for the youngest. Inside they are all interconnected and even today, it is lived in. (Mr. Lin told me about 50 people, from several different families, live there now.)
The whole place is a family affair, with the brothers (or cousins, to be honest I’m not quite sure of their relation) handling the customers and the booking and the mom cooking all the food. They are Hakka people, an ethnic minority of China, and all the food is Hakka style, which I really liked a lot. I ended up eating all my meals in their courtyard and they were all totally delicious, not too spicy and no crazy seasonings. At night they lit the courtyard with red lanterns and candles.
There are some downsides to staying in a 100+ year-old UNESCO World Heritage site and that would be modern luxuries. There are bathrooms, some squatters, one western style, but they are outside of the main building and a littleÂ dingy. There are also 2 rooms with sinks and showers which seemed all right (they had hot water heaters in each) but I was happy I took a shower before I got there.
The other problem is that, well, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Changdi Inn is listed in most travel books, in all the local pamphlets and is a major stop for most every tour group. So, if you are sitting there in the sunshine, writing in your journal, waiting for a meal to come, you might beÂ interrupted by 30 Chinese tourists who find you just as interesting as the architecture. And as soon as one group would leave, another would arrive. They were pretty busy all afternoon.
But the nights were magic. Quiet, peaceful, no cars or yelling and a sky full of stars (which is rare in China). I was the only one out and about at 9pm and I felt like it was 2 a.m. On the flip side it means that everyone is up bright and early, and insulation between rooms is not the best. Â But what are you doing sleeping in anyway? Breakfast, a big bowl of noodles, was included in the price.
The owners were really nice to me, and made sure things were good. Mr. Lin called me the next morning, after an overnight train, to make sure I arrived okay. They even gave me a gift of a little tulou as I left. So I wanted to tell everyone about this tulou and recommend it 100%. Their e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.orgÂ but I would just call them atÂ 13799097962 (you can speak english to the person who picks up the phone.)
Have a good time!