Hekeng village | Fujian province
Hekeng village belongs to one of the 10 Tulou clusters which have been inscribed by UNESCO as a world heritage sites. These 10 clusters together sum-up to a total of 46 earth buildings, and are distributed throughout Yongding-, Hua’an- and Nanjing country, all in Fujian province. The Hekeng cluster (village) is located in Nanjing county together with the Tianloukeng cluster, the latter one having seen quite some commercialization due to it’s easy accessibility. Hekeng village has mostly been spared this development due to it’s less convenient accessibility (although recent infrastructure improvements might changes that of course) .
Another big reason why Hekeng has been spared over-commercialization is due to the government which is doing it’s best to lure most tourists to the more famous village like ‘YunShuiYao’(云水谣） or the TianLuoKeng Tulou cluster （田螺坑土楼群）hence keeping the less well known villages more in tact. The villagers in Hekeng are obviously not a fan of this policy, although some do see the benefits of not having extreme tourism disturb their natural way of living.
There are 13 Tulous buildings in Hekeng village. 6 square earth buildings, 6 circular earth buildings and 1 pentagon earth building. Among them, the oldest one is the "Chao Shui Building" which was built in the Jiajing period of the Ming Dynasty, having a history of over 400 years and was built by the big family "Zhang Shi" who moved from Guangdong to Hekeng. After the "Zhang Family" settled, and the family grew the “Chaoshui Building” reached it’s capacity. New Tulou’s needed to be built, eventually resulting in the total of 13 structure you can see today. Despite the growth of the village, the family Zhang remained the main family name, resulting in Hekeng village being called “Family Zhang village”.
“ This is our second Laojia experience as a family of 7 with 5 kids. This was a new location for us -Fujian province- and we have to say Laojia locations are some of our favorite places to be in China. The opportunity to see village life and to meet people in China who aren't tour guides but just regular people is such a unique opportunity. Village life in China is fascinating, beautiful and gives you the chance to unplug and relax. Living inside a Tulou is an amazing experience because you become an actual neighbor and can see people preparing their meals, washing their dishes and drying their clothes in the community space. Tulous are quite lively and you will hear but not understand (if you are like us) lots of loud talking and village hustle and bustle. We were warmly welcomed by the neighbors- if you have kids... go! They love kids! Your kids will be embraced and welcomed by the Ayi's and Shushu's and told to wear their layers, of course. We enjoyed several activities- painting mini tulous was fun for kids, wandering the village, and walking to the world's largest tulou down the road a few kilometers. ”
— Andie & Andrew, USA
“This is my second time visiting a Laojia location, and I continue to be a fan. It's really an invaluable chance for both foreigners and locals alike to experience a bit of life in rural China and support the local communities there. You'll come away refreshed with a more nuanced view of modern China and its various perspectives. This Laojia location is in Hekeng, one of the only UNESCO-protected tulou villages, so you'll be able to see the tulou architectural style in as close to their original form as possible, and there's 15 of them in the village! My favorite activity was hiking up to the organic tea plantation to visit the amazingly kind Qiu shifu and his wife who is an great cook. You can also walk to the next village where there's the largest tulou in the world, and just generally enjoy drinking lots and lots of teas everyday. ”
— Bizou, China