Guangdong Province 广东省 Kaiping 开平
Zili Village Kaiping 自力村碉楼群: The setting of Zili’s Diaolou (Click here for a Diaolou definition) is the embodiment of bucolic China. They appear amidst shimmering green rice fields, dotted with hoe- carrying peasants, dressed as they were when the Diaolou were built a century ago, with the odd water buffalo to put the icing on the pastoral cake.
- Zili Village 自力村碉楼群
Zili village is more than just its Diaolou. The village boasts a peculiar mixture of sturdy peasant houses with beautiful eave roofs and delightful alleys.
- Zili Village 自力村碉楼群
A couple of those houses on the square near Zili Village 自力村碉楼群 entrance have been converted into an interesting folk museum, showing traditional furniture, farming implements, as well as photos and historical records.
Most of its startling Diaolou lie on the outskirts of the village, as if sprouting out of the rice paddies. To reach them you have to cross a large lily-pond, covered in quivering, plate-sized leaves.
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Li Yuan 立园 / Li Gardens: The Posh Diaolou
Li Yuan or Li Gardens: Heading on past Sanmenli from Kaiping, the next important group of Diaolou buildings is in the Li Yuan, or Li Gardens, a further 10 kms down the road. These are the posh Diaolou. Click here to see what is a Diaolou
The huge buildings are set in lovely gardens which mix European and Southern Chinese Lingnan style garden designs. (http://www.chinaplanner.com/gardens/privategardens/pri_lian.htm).
The Diaolou in the Li Gardens are the most European in the Kaiping region. Many resemble French Villas with only the eave roofs giving away their Chinese essence. They exude wealth and power and wouldn’t be too out of place on the Champs-Élysées (maybe the cheaper end). The interiors of the Li Garden’s Diaolou are luxuriously furnished and gorgeously decorated.
The contrast between the amazing buildings and the surrounding rural scenery is incredible! From any of the roof tops you can look out over a countryside that has hardly changed since the Li Gardens were built. There are peasants working in the rice paddies and buffalo wading in the ponds. And then there are these magnificent buildings…
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