China 2010: Day 4: Kaiping Daiolou and Taishan
Where to start...
A familiar sight from the previous tour-- one of the homes/memorials to Dr. Sun Yat-sen and a museum complex which is full of very static displays on his life. Kind of interesting if you have time to linger.
Kaiping Daiolou and the surrounding villages (such as Zili) were next: some are part a recent UNSECO World Heritage site due to the unique collection of watchtowers making up much of the villages in the area. Originally more than 3,000 were constructed by the early 1900s, roughly 1,800 survive now. Many have iron shutters, murder-holes above the entrances, and whatnot to deter bandits and foreign invaders. Pretty nifty, although watching the construction of an apparent strip mall on the path into the village was disheartening. The nearby "Tiger Mountain" and village were a bit underwhelming, but the story of the family patriach there who strongly believed in education and how he built the village to support it was unique; open-topped aviary and all. (or odd...)
Off to Taishan next, aka to the Won family village. We made our one stop at McDonalds on the trip (taro pies are interesting, spicy chicken wings are actually spicy!) to use the restroom and meet up with a cousin, then we visited the village where Grandpa Won's old house was. t'was quite an experience, I believe, for those who'd never been. We focused more on family history and hence did not see as much of the village as the last time.
Dinner was another random, huge restaurant on the outskirts of the city (more goose! ack!), then we pulled into the (very nice) hotel... which was merely one part of a complex of Mediterranean-style villas in Taishan. Painted ceilings and everything. Weird.