After the beautiful Li River region we were a little shocked to find ourselves in such a busy city. Guangzhou was heaving! Maybe this was the real China and we’ve been really lucky enjoying the calmness of the rest of the country.
We got a bus to Kaiping a couple hours south west to take a look at the UNESCO Diaolou buildings. These impressive multi-storey towers were built in the 20th century by Chinese who had emigrated abroad and came back to their homeland. They brought back architectural ideas from the west to incorporate into their sturdy towers. The main worries of living here were bandits and typhoons and each floor was self sufficient incase the lower floors flooded. Men would usually stay in the defence towers keeping a lookout for groups of gangs wanting to steal their wealth.
We headed to Zili Village which has a cluster of 12 Diaolou and passed lots of the watchtowers throughout the countryside during the bus ride. Zili is particularly famous due to ‘Let The Bullets Fly’, a critically acclaimed Chinese movie which was filmed here.
The buildings were pretty awesome, just shooting out the paddy fields and dotted around pretty ponds with ducks. They were mostly 4-5 stories high (although I read there’s a 9 story one in another village) and each level would of housed a family. We headed up one of the buildings onto the roof and had a birds eye view of the Diaolou around us.
Two stood closely together at the back and looked like haunted houses that you’d find in America. Most of the windows were now boarded up, but some door ways had very pretty paintings of birds in trees and Chinese writing on either side.