Kaiping lies on the west of the Pearl River Delta region of China's Guangdong Province. The Tanjiang River flows along it's eastern side towards the mighty Pearl River. Originally Kaiping was part of Guangdong's Panyu County when Emperor Qin Shi Huang unified China in 214 B.C. The was gradually included within the Yi'ning County from the Period of the Warring States to the Song Dynasty.
Kaiping used to border Xinhui, Xinxing, Taishan, and Enping counties where crime and poverty were rife. Hence the reason why the Qing government relocated the Kaiping area west of Xinhui and to the east of Enping to establish Kaiping as a new county in the sixth reign year of Shuanzhi of the Qing Dynasty (1649). The name Kaiping stands for 'establishing peace'.
The Opium War (1840-1842) which was an attack on China by the British led to serious problems of drug addiction, over population, starvation, and employment; all of which forced the inhabitants of Kaiping into social chaos. At the same time, Western countries opened their doors to allow Chinese migrant workers to add value to their economies.
Mr. Xie She Do, a native of Tangkou in Kaiping, was one of the first Chinese 'coolies' to be sold to America through Hong Kong in 1839. Thus began the history of emigration to the West by mainland Chinese people.
The Kaiping natives journeyed back and forth between China and their adopted countries, bringing back with them not only money and wealth but also the Western scientific, architectural, and cultural know-how, which became a significant influence on the local area. Out of these, perhaps architecture is the best example of the influence that was created here.
In the Kaiping countryside, there are many unique architectural styles visible among a variety of diaolou, ancestral homes, churches, shrines, mansions, and garden villas etc.
Below are photos taken from the many diaolous in Kaiping.
Original hometown to one quarter of the “Flying Tigers,” the legendary group of American airmen who fought the Japanese during the Second World War before the US entered it, and a spectacular stretch of rugged land, beach, mountainous terrain, and sea, Taishan wooed my adventurous appetite so much that I have vowed to come back as soon as I can.
Because of the absolute beauty of the place, the various sleepy villages around Taishan are used as location sets for movies, and TV serials that depict either period drama or the rural countryside. From my experience, these villages may even be a great set for a Western Hollywood movie!
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