Kaiping, Greater Bay Area
KAIPING (Hoiping, 開平)
The regular route involves catching a bus from one of various starting points in Hong Kong to the Shenzhen Bay Border. With good traffic conditions and no delays at immigration the coach journey to Kaiping from Sheung Wan, for example, takes about 4 hours. Of this it takes just under an hour to reach the Shenzhen Bay Border crossing, where we exit Hong Kong with all our baggage, and walk to the Chinese immigration and customs. Even one generation ago the journey would be a difficult 12 hours and before the bridges were constructed across the river distributaries, Kaiping was a very remote area with many isolated islands.
From Shenzhen Bay the first half of the route may be regarded as an engineer’s dream with lengthy viaducts and bridges spanning high above the fields and townships, past ports and factories. On the right we pass the Shenzhen Airport. The coach takes us past the Opium War Museum and the Weiyuan Fort (威远炮台 ) constructed in 1835 on the left before crossing the Pearl River over the Fumen (Humen) Bridge. On the right are islands such as Anunghoy and North Wangtong with the Bogue forts captured by the British in the first Opium War. This major suspension bridge was completed in 1997 and transformed travel in the region. The Fumen Bridge became very congested and a second bridge has been completed in 2018 a few miles north of the first. The coach often uses this second bridge.
After the toilet stop the route becomes more rural. Often the central divider is lined with hibiscus or other flowering plants. The hillsides are covered with Eucalypts (grown for paper pulp), Red Pine (used for furniture) and Bamboo (used for scaffolding, firewood and supports). Interspersed we can see fish ponds and banana plantations, as well as Bauhinia and the yellow- flowered Sunshine Trees.
Many of the trees have a lime paint to deter insects and make the trees more visible at night. Banyan trees are also popular roadside trees, being pollution tolerant, easy to grow, long living with small leaves that give good shade, and small plentiful berries that represent offspring in local culture.
Part of the route is on the G15 Expressway that is essentially a N-S route from Shenyang in Liaoning to Haikou in Hainan calling at Shangdong, Jiangsu, Shanghai, Zhejiang, Fujian and Guangdong. It is 3,710 kms long, crossing the Yangtze and the Hangzhou Bay Bridge. The turning to Kaiping is at Km. 3170, but we normally turn off the G15 to Shui Kau at 3,158 kms. Shui Kau is the world centre for sanitary and bathroom fittings. On leaving Shui Kau we are just 25 minutes ride from the main Kaiping bus station at Yichi, near where we catch our first glimpses of diaolou.
The High Speed Train （高铁）service has opened to Kaiping in 2018. With the opening also of the West Kowloon service it is possible now to travel by High Speed train from West Kowloon to Guangzhou South and then change for a High Speed train to Kaiping. From here a road transport will take about half an hour either to Tangkou or to Kaiping City.
The HKZM Bridge （港珠澳大桥） opened in October 2018. This has provided a new way to approach Tangkou. First it is necessary to go to a man-made island known as the “Hong Kong Port” where passengers clear HK immigration. This may be by bus such as the A11 from HK Island or A21 from Kowloon, or by bus B6 from Tung Chung. A shuttle bus then transfers passengers to a second artificial island, the “Zhuhai Port” where passengers enter through China mainland immigration and can take onward transport.
Routes to Kaiping from Macau/Zhuhai 珠海/澳门至开平的交通方式
From Macau Airport a Transmac bus, AP1, will deliver you to the Portas Do Cerco Border Gate (for 6 MOP). In central Macau tickets for the coach to Kaiping can be bought at the lobby of the Hotel Beverly Plaza near the Lisboa Hotel. You can choose whether to use the bus all the way from the Beverly Plaza or only from Gong Bei. A coach leaves several times a day from the Beverly Plaza and takes you to the Portas Do Cerco, or Border gate on the Macau side in time to catch the connecting bus on the Zhuhai side.
Many hotel casino shuttle buses or indeed the public bus system can also deliver you to the Border Gate. It is better known as Gong Bei, though that is actually the Port on the Zhuhai side of the border.
The Zhuhai Special Economic Zone borders the Macau Special Administrative Region.
You get off the coach with all your baggage, and cross the Macau and Mainland immigrations on foot to emerge at the Gong Bei side of Zhuhai Port. To the left is the large new Railway Station, serving Guangzhou and other destinations. Straight on you can catch your coach from the bus station to Kaiping, or if you do not yet have a ticket you can get one here for a bus to Kaiping, Yici bus station. The bus will take about 2 hours to cover the 89 kms to Kaiping depending on traffic.
If meeting a private car follow the arrangements, but it may be that you will be picked up at the Charming Hotel, just beyond the bus station as this is a good meeting point.
There are several options on routing, and each has its attractions. Most follow the coast for a while – watch out for the mermaid and the new clamshell building (the opera house, illuminated at night till 10:30 pm), near Wan Shan ferry terminal, on the right and the yet- to- open Zhuhai Museum on the left. The route then either heads towards Jiangmen, or more scenically heads west past the new light rail transit and crosses the Qianshan and Tan Rivers. One option then takes you on the S32 past impressive mountains and the S49 through attractive countryside to Taicheng and the S274 towards Kaiping/Tangkou.
Further variations on the theme are to take a ferry from Hong Kong to Zhuhai and then get a pick up at the Zhuhai ferry Terminal (which is several kilometres from Gong Bei), or a ferry to Jungshan or Jiangmen. These ports are also some distance from the built up areas and require further transportation to reach your destination.
Routes from Guangzhou 广州到开平的交通方式
From Guangzhou South since July 2018 there is a High Speed train to the station at Kaiping South. Buses leave Guangzhou East, Guangzhou Guangfo and Guangzhou Haizhu bus stations for Kaiping Yici bus station. The routing is via the S15 and G15 and the cost about RMB 62. Central Guangzhou is 122 kms from Kaiping. The journey time is about 2 hours depending on traffic.
Kaiping (Hoiping) is a county-level city (Xianji shi) administered as part of the Prefecture-level city (Diji shi) of Jiangmen. It is one of the “Sze Yap” or “Four Counties”, the others being Taishan, Enping and Xinhui. Kaiping has a population of around 700,000 in an area of 1,659 sq. kms. Through it flow two principal rivers (the Tan, the Cangjiang) and a third distributary forms around a third island. Thus there are three main islands and four peninsulas. Kaiping has 24 bridges. One of these bridges was an iron bridge, the first in the region, with materials imported from Germany.
The city is served by several good hotels including the Sanbu, the Pan International, the Helenburgh and the County Garden.
Kaiping means “open peace”, or “open flat(land)”. There is a walking street, Bu Xing Jie (步行街), with many useful shops and fun to walk along in the evening. The shops have 2 floors and there are some 260 shops in each floor. It is 800 metres long, just south from Cangjiang river, near the Sunday Hotel. Many of the shop buildings and some of the street architecture show western influence.
Yi Clan Ancestral Hall, in Kaiping (Feng Cai Tang, or in Cantonese, Fung Chi Tohng). 开平风采堂
Yi is Mandarin, Yu is the Cantonese equivalent and Eu is more common in Singapore. Much of the funding came from Eu Yan Seng, the brand name of a HK, Malayan and Singaporean business run by the Eu family. The family made their fortune manufacturing and retailing Chinese medicines. The ancestral hall draws funds from its property investments in Hong Kong and other cities. It is one of 56 Yi clan halls worldwide.
Feng Cai Tang is also known as the Shrine for Outstanding and Virtuous Yu Clan Members. It is alongside the Fengcai Middle School in Sanbu town in Kaiping city. The ancestral hall and school is beside one of the rivers with good fung shui. It is the largest in Kaiping, though the Chen Clan Ancestral hall (Chan Ga Chi), completed in 1894 in Guangzhou is bigger. Feng Cai Tang was planned in the 1890’s and was built in 1906 to 1914. While the Chen Clan hall is the biggest, it may be argued that the Yi Clan hall has the finest techniques in wood, iron and stone. The Yi clan were keen to adopt western influences.
The main structure is the three storey Feng Cai Lou and it is decorated with fine European style iron work. The architecture has western features, with a central ancestral hall and school halls (initially only for boys) inscribed “hohk hau” at each side. There are three rows of courtyards. It houses a museum of the Yi clan but this is usually locked.
The stones were carved in Hong Kong. At the 1914 opening some 200 boats came to the celebrations. The hall was renovated in the 1940’s after the Japanese bombings in 1939, particularly when the yi clan in San Francisco collected funds to rebuild it. In 1949 the ancestral hall function was abandoned but the school continued. The ancestral halls were used as communal kitchens in the 1960’s with woks installed. The ancestral hall was renovated again in 1982 when Yi clan members overseas wanted to renew it. The altar and ancestral tablets were removed during the Cultural Revolution and records were lost or incomplete so it was decided to replace them by a statue of Confucius. It has been undergoing ongoing renovations since 2006.
At the entrance there are two lions, (rather than the traditional stone drums). This may indicate a lack of High Officials in the history of the clan. The lions are rather small and almost underground. There used to be three steps leading down but the whole playground was filled and raised leaving the lions rather low.
In fact, there was a famous member of the clan who became Prime Minister during the Northern Song Dynasty (and was a friend of Fang Jung Yim).
The Yi’s were the first to change the style radically from that of a traditional ancestral hall using both eastern and western influences. Reinforcement steel was imported from England. Fine wrought iron work was brought from Europe. Drainpipes were imported from England. Stone was brought from Hong Kong quarries and a Hong Kong architect was employed for the Ancestral Hall. Caucasian engineers helped with the construction. Originally, the entrance was through the decorated archway. At the entrance to the halls are two drum platforms, in the Cantonese tradition. These provide a space for musicians and in the past also provided space for teachers till more space became available inside. There is elaborate stone and wood carving and fine stucco work in the Lingnan style. Surmounting the roof are various ceramic animals including “Rei yauh”, mythical animals created by Cantonese. Feuille diu – a clay sand stucco which requires to be carried out instantly was carried out recently by a 78 years old artist.
The library at the rear of the Ancestral Hall is in Baroque style, designed by an Italian architect. Selia taught in the Yi Clan Hall. Her mother came from “Dik Hoi” an area with many Yi villages in Taishan. Yu Ka Sing of the HKU Architectural Conservation faculty is a Yu clan member, whose “home village” is also in the same area in Taishan.
Kaiping Trade: 开平贸易状况
Kaiping is the county town and has two lively fresh food markets. It was famous for watch making and for denim manufacture and tailoring. Levi was a major source of employment and even today ladies can be seen at street corners in parts of Kaiping sorting the denim. Many Chinese left the area and settled in Sham Shui Po in Hong Kong but still preferred to source the denim from their home town.
The statue at the entrance to the Kaiping city is of 3 rings, representing the 3 rivers and a phoenix.
The Museum of Kaiping Heritage. 开平市博物馆
This museum was opened during 2017 in Jinshan Park in Kaiping city. The ground floor has interesting special exhibitions while the upper floors illustrate the revolutionary heritage of Kaiping.
Tung Wah landing steps for repatriation of bones, Baihe (Bak Hap, 百合), Kaiping. 百合-华侨遗骨遣返接收码头
The bones of overseas Chinese who died in America were sent back from California, mostly men but also including women. They were landed first in Hong Kong, and were stored at the Tung Wah coffin home at Sandy Bay. Periodically, when the coffin home was becoming full, perhaps each five or even 10 years, a boat would deliver the bones to each of the four counties. In Kaiping, they were landed near the old Baihe market, (Bak Hap Market Place). This village is not far from Tangkou, just past the AMO restaurant, a sharp turn left off the Ma Jiang Long road. In the village there were three temples, one ancestral hall and one Christian church. The ancestral hall is for the Hu (Woo) clan, while one on the far side of the river is for the Wong clan but these were not exclusive.
The bones would be received at the landing steps by a fung shui master to conduct them to the temple. His ritual would include throwing a duck into the river and reeling it back in, reflecting the summoning of the return of the spirit. He would inform the relatives who would then collect the bones for permanent burial at the hometown. The job was normally passed down from father to son. The bones were thus effectively buried twice, in accordance with Cantonese tradition, firstly in the Americas and then after 3, 5 or 7 years, or more, in the hometown. The bones would be strung together and placed in a “comfortable” way into a burial urn, again by an expert.
The temples in Baihe are unusual in covering for 6 clans, i.e. for 6 surnames.
The Christian church was built in 1917, close to the ancestral hall and without any conflict, respecting both local and foreign beliefs. It is one of 92 Christian churches and 5 Catholic churches in Kaiping. It was one of the first to reopen after the Maoist suppression, but it closed in 1990 as a bigger church, under state guidance, opened in Kaiping Town. There is an old man, Uncle Zhang, (maybe 88 years old in 2016), who still lives in a small old house beside the steps and saw the boat when it last came in 1946. There was a big shipment in about 1946, after the war and before the return of bones stopped during the Maoist times. After the shipment to Kaiping stopped the bones came only as far as Hong Kong, where a new cemetery was set up at Wo Hop Shek.
Nowadays Canadian Chinese bones may be buried in the Harling Pt. cemetery in Victoria B.C. In a strange twist, the Maoist times have meant people may prefer to be buried where their descendants are, rather than their ancestors.
Daaih Sha Plum Orchard. 大沙梅园
In January the plum trees blossom and the terraces of the trees are a delight. The white blossom was at its best in the second week of January 2016 but some 3 weeks earlier in the 2017 season. Roads get congested when the plum is in blossom.
It is about an hour’s excursion from Kaiping and can conveniently be combined with a stopover at the riverside restaurant of He Pan Ge for a fish lunch.
The Liang Jin Shan mountains rise from the paddy fields about 10 minutes drive from Kaiping heading back on the G325 towards Shui Kou Zhen.
The coach to Kaiping “Yi Chi” terminus bus station calls in to Shui Kau bus station about 25 minutes before arriving at the Yi Chi terminus, the two stations being about 15 kms. apart. Yi Chi is the main bus station and is modern with facilities.
There is also a second long distance bus station in Kaiping town known as Le Chong Zong Zhan.
The Routes from Kaiping to Tangkou and Cangdong:
From the Yici Central bus station along the G15 and G325 National roads in the direction of Zhanjiang it is:
7 kms to Sam Mun Lei, which is home to the Ming dynasty diaolou
17 kms to Tangkou
17kms to Zili diaolou cluster
19 kms to Majiang Long diaolou cluster
26 kms to Jinjiang village
The No. 17 bus from Yici serves Li Gardens and, therefore, also Cangdong.
Sir Quo-wei LEE, GBM, CBE, JP, (1918 to 2013), Executive Chairman of Hang Seng Bank and Chairman of the Council of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Born in Macau, his ancestral home is in Kaiping.
Alfred Cheung Kin-ting (born in 1955 in Hong Kong, of Kaiping ancestry) – Chinese actor, director, writer and producer of several films. His wife, Cindy, is CEO of Emperor Watch & Jewellry.
Kenny KWAN Chi-bun, (born 1980 in the Philippines but of Kaiping ancestry) - Hong Kong singer, songwriter, actor and model in the Cantopop genre; former member of Hong Kong boy band Boy'z, now persuing solo career, performed for SUCCESS in Vancouver and appeared in numerous films.
SITU Mei-tang (alias SZETO Wing-tak, SEETO Mei-tong), born 1868 in Chikan, died 1955 in Beijing. Emigrated to USA and became leader of the Hongmen Chee Kung Tong an association of overseas Chinese that supported Sun Yat Sen and the republican revolution. He went on to raise funds in support the anti- Japanese war and sided with Mao in the subsequent civil war. Returned to Beijing in 1949 and became a Deputy of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee.
(@c. Text and photos by Peter Stuckey for Tangkou Community Project, Sep 2019)