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Kaiping Day 3

ON WEDNESDAY, we decided to see more of these watchtowers, even if it meant. . . joining a tour! Thankfully this was not necessary as Susan was able to figure out which buses went to where we wanted to go which today was Ma Jianglong village and Zili Village. We boarded bus no 13 which dropped us off near Ma Jianglong. We walked along to the ticket hut and bought tickets.

ON the bridge to Ma Jionglong village.

A woman rides her work trike over a bridge. This dog reminded me of a tiger.

Ma Jianglong was an interesting place. You could go inside a couple of the towers which was interesting. Many of the towers were still possibly still being used by people to this day. These were locked up. The ones that were open had a couple of kitchens on the lower floors, then various rooms/bedrooms on each floor. The top floor might have a store room but all of them apparently had an altar for ancestor worship. Ma Jianglong was built into a bamboo forest and near the mountains, so it was really beautiful. You could just picture those crazy bamboo hoping kung fu masters from the movies assaulting the towers.

Susan in the bamboo forest, Ma Jianglong village.

 

Two more from Majianglong village. Note ancestor worship altar.

Two more from Majianglong village. Note ancestor worship altar.

We next got back on bus 13 and headed closer to Zili Village. The driver eventually told us to get off and we boarded another bus. It was apparently the only one and this one took us most of the rest of way, dropping us out front on the really long drive way to Zili. We walked down this way for some time until we got to the entrance proper. One thing future tourists have to look forward to is all sorts of little shops and a new walkway that runs over a pond. They are currently building all of this, so it might be very exciting for subsequent visitors, or it might be a ruined experience. Anyway, we walked to the cluster. Here, there were no photos allowed in the towers. However, you can probably snap a few shots, especially if you are sneaky or have a quiet camera. The guards more or less stay on the ground floors only.

We used public transportation rather than commercial tours.

Zili Village

 

One thing that I really wonder though is just how these towers served their purpose, which was to protect the occupants inside. On the one hand, I’m sure that the towers could withstand a considerable attack from bandits. Certainly, nothing short of a siege or explosives would conquer such a fortress, as long as the occupants were not surprised with their doors open.  

Farm machine outside of ZiLi Village

ZiLi Village

 

Which makes me wonder at least if the mere presence of such towers deterred assailants so that nobody ever had to make a defense in one. I do know of some people who fought the Japanese invaders back in the 30’s. I’ve asked my wife to look into this question but she’s a bit busy right now, so we’ll just have to wait a bit.

One of the many towers just in the middle of nothing important.

The day was drawing to a close and we began to feel the clock ticking down. The last bus leaves Kaiping around 6:30. If we missed that bus, we’d have to stay in Kaiping another night, which would cost us another 130RMB or so for a hotel room. So as we started off, we kept looking for the bus back to Kaiping or a taxi, whichever came first. A taxi could literally rip us off in the worst way and it would still be cheaper than staying in Kaiping another night, as long as we didn’t get a taxi and miss the bus anyway.

Our view from the rickshaw.

Down the road from Kaiping we noticed one of the little motorcycle rickshaws heading towards us. He stopped and we negotiated a rate of about 50RMB to take us to the bus station.  It didn’t matter that Kaiping was behind him; he turned his rickshaw around and drove us to the bus station. We got to the bus station in plenty of time and we got the 5:50 out of Kaiping for Guangzhou.

Our friendly rickshaw driver got us back in time for the bus.

 

Overall, Kaiping was a fun trip and we would return to check out the Li Yuan Garden cluster.  Susan and I generally prefer to just wander around places taking our time, so we wouldn’t bother with tour guides and all that. They are actually not that bad a deal provided you don’t mind moving along at a set pace. The tours ranged from 135-180 per person, and our ticket cost 90 RMB to see the two places (110RMB for 3 places) but it did take us all day to see just the two. Even accounting for all the time we spent dealing with public transportation, I think a guided tour on a bus would be much too rushed for my tastes.  For us, 4 days would be perfect to see Kaiping and the surrounding areas.

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