Tower Hamlets.

By Mark Andrews

Serendib – SriLankan Airlines. March 2015

Ask a native of Kaiping, Guangdong Province, the population of the town and they’ll likely give you the curious answer of 680,000 plus 750,000 overseas. The fact that many of this “overseas population” may never have set foot in Kaiping does not matter; this town tells the fortunes of Chinese emigrants.

Situated around an hour and a half away from Guangzhou by car or bus, it is the only World Heritage site in Guangdong Province.

An easily accessible area of countryside, it makes an ideal day trip or overnight stopover. UNESCO inscribed Kaiping in 2007 because of the tower like structures, known as diaolou, which litter the surrounding countryside. At one time they numbered as many as 3,000 but at the last count there were 1,833 of what today appear to be follies. Twenty buildings are inscribed in the four villages of Sanmenli, Zili, Majianlong, and Jinjiangli.

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Mark Andrews has written about everything from Japanese houses to heli hikes on New Zealand glaciers, test drives of Chinese cars to bar and restaurant reviews. He currently specialises in travel articles and reviews of Chinese cars plus articles about the Chinese auto industry.

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