Travelogues

Chaozhou Night Out 潮州府韻

My dad came from Chaozhou, and specifically in the Chaozhou Old Town (府城内). It has been my wish to go back there to seek my roots and walk in his footsteps. I finally managed to do it.

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廣濟門城樓 Guangjimen Tower

The old town borders Golden Mountain in the north, Han River Bridge in the south, Han River on the east and West Lake on the west. There used to be a wall surrounding the entire city as its borders, now only the East Wall along the River Han remains.

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潮州府全景1908年 Old Chaozhou City view from BiJia Mountian

潮州古城,位於潮州市老城區,北起金山,南至韓江大橋,西接潮州西湖,東臨韓江,隔江與筆架山相望。潮州古城在宋代形成規模,經歷代多次修築而不斷完善,到明代已頗為壯觀。隨著城市的發展建設,現僅存東面臨韓江的古城牆。

「老家府城,舊時相等於日本的京都,到處是古蹟。」
“The old town of Chaozhou is equivalent to Kyoto – there’s a relic at every turn.”
— 蔡瀾《府城》

GuangJi Gate Tower 廣濟門城樓

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城內望樓 View from inside the gate

The city walls were demolished and rebuilt (due to war and floods) over time, and over 4 gates remained. Guangji is the main gate and used to be called East Gate (as it is on the East side of the Han River).

據史料記載,潮州古城牆先後歷經十幾次修建,保存上水門、竹木門、廣濟門、下水門城門四座,並建城樓,其中最為壯觀的當屬廣濟門城樓。廣濟樓舊稱東門樓,幾百年來都是人們進出老城區及韓江航道的重要驛站。

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廣濟門城樓 GuangJi Gate

Guangji Gate, also called East Gate, was one of the seven major entrances into the ancien town of Chaozhou. Built in 1370 using mainly wooden structure, this was rebuilt in 1931 using by the Nationalist government of the time using concrete and steel. In 2004, the whole gate was rebuilt with the current tower according to Qing dynasty construction plans.

廣濟門城樓,俗稱東門樓,正對廣濟橋,是潮州古城七城門樓之首。明洪武三年(1370年),俞良輔重修潮州城牆建立廣濟門城樓。清咸豐年間,被改為吳公祠。民國20年(1931年)二月大修過,部分木構架被改用鋼筋混凝土結構。1949年後,當局撥出專款對廣濟門城樓進行維修加固。最近一次大修是在2004年,依據清代《潮州古城圖》按明朝的結構形式進行整修。

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文墨 Calligrahy

Every level of the tower were precious calligraphy left by the best calligraphers of the time. Especially on Level 2, the main plaque was written by one of the most prominent Chinese scholar of modern time hailing from Chaozhou, Mr Rao Zong Yi, whose calligraphy was also adorning the signboard of the Hong Kong Chiuchow Chamber of Commerce.

廣濟門城樓一到三樓都有匾額柱聯。其中一樓有劉炳森題寫的匾額「嶺東首邑」以及陳景舒書寫的柱聯「城抱江如帶,天垂嶂列屏」;二樓有國學大師饒宗頤書寫的匾額「東為萬春」及柱聯「萬峰當戶立,一水接天來」;三樓有肖嫻題寫的匾額「廣濟樓」與盧瑞華書寫的柱聯「得山水清氣,極古橋秀風」。

ShangShui Gate 上水門

Literally meaning “Upper Water Gate”, this one is left side of Guangji Gate (the main gate of the Han River side of the city. There’s a “Lower Water Gate” on the right side of GuangJi Gate.

古城墙与城门楼是古城最醒目的标志,它写着古城的历史:有太平盛世的康乐日子;有兵荒马乱,风烟滚滚的战祸年代;也有守城将上浴血奋战的悲歌。古城墙就是记载古城文化的一本活的历史大书。

ZhuMu (Bamboo) Gate 竹木門

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竹木門城樓 ZhuMu Gate

The Bamboo Gate was named after the many bamboo and wood vendors that used to display their wares along the street leading to the gate.

以前的竹木門並無城樓,樸實無華的老城牆外是一個繁華的竹木料集散地。所謂竹木門就是以前這裡在賣杉木、竹木的地方,韓江這裡有個碼頭,從上游運了杉木、木炭來這裡上碼頭來賣,城門兩側就是兩排鋪面,專門賣木炭、杉木條,這地方在當時的貿易還是非常繁榮的。

Street of Memorial Arches 牌坊街

During the Ming and Qing dynastics, many memorial arches were built in Chaozhou to commemorate the deeds of locals. Along Taiping Road, there were 39, many of which were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. In 2006, 22 of these were rebuilt. Because of this reason, Taiping Road is nicknamed Arches Street 牌坊街.

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Photo from internet by Staub Emma, early 20th century

明清二代,潮州城建立了眾多牌坊,據史料記載,僅太平路就有39座,如今被稱為牌坊街。上世紀五十年初,這批珍貴的牌坊因歷史原因被拆除,2006年修復了其中的22座牌坊。

By Day

Every arch is a story on its own – it tells the tale of an historical figure from different periods. When you put them together, you get the history of Chaozhou. And the inscriptions on these arches are works of fine literature, architecture beauty and excellent calligraphy, 3-in-1.

太平路的每一座牌坊都有一个或数个坊主。刻在坊上的文字,就是一篇历史人物小传。这批英杰,他们在不同历史时期的事迹组合起来,就是一部简明的潮州文化史。牌坊的坊文包含了丰富的文化内涵,了解牌坊文字对提高文史方面素养,将有极大的帮助。牌坊集建筑美、文学美、书法美于一身,也让人们可以欣赏到它精湛的艺术。

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There’s arch that belongs to the only Imperial Top Scholar, i.e. the top scholar in the lands in Imperial China, from Chaozhou. Lin Daqin 林大欽 was the top scholar from Ming Dynasty 明 • 嘉靖 • 壬辰科狀元 (1531). Little was known about him except one very famous couplet that he wrote.

「天增歲月人增壽,春滿乾坤福滿門」
— 林大欽 (明 • 嘉靖 • 壬辰科狀元)

By Night

By night the street transformed itself into a beautiful LED-lit street. This is all part of the massive conservation work done in 2012 for the neighbour that included the Guangji Gate, Guangji Bridge and Bijia Mountain.

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牌坊街 Street of Arches

It was a quiet Autumn night, so most of the shops were closed. But beneath this stillness was the majestic beauty of this street.

Shopping

Many shops retained their rustic charm, like this shop selling quilts and pillows – on its walls are posters from early 60s. Time stood still in these shops. Many shops sell their local homemade specialties like snacks and preserves. However entrepreneurial spirit of the Teochew are evident with modern cafes and bed and breakfast popping up to cater to the tourist trade.

在这条老街上,向往太平的美好愿望,始终深藏在人们心中。唯有不断超越自我才能成就辉煌,是老街人永不改变的信念,也是这条古街得以延续千年的奥秘所在。

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胡榮泉 One of the oldest confectionary

A famous old shop specialising in snacks is called Hu Rong Quan 胡榮泉. Dough rolls on the brownish red kneeding board with rolling pins pattering. Out of frying pans and ovens come batches of pastries and cakes, all bearing the red seal of “Hurongquan”. Their specialty, however, is Yamunian 鴨拇捻 (in SIngapore we called them ah bo ling), a snack the name of which does not give any clue as to what it actually is. It is made of glutinous rice dumpling with four types of filling – black soya bean paste, mung bean paste, taro paste and mashed white gourd. And you can tell which kind of filling by the shape of the dumpling. After boiling in sugar soup, four dumplings, each with a different filling, are put into a bowl together with sugar soup. Some add Chinese dates, lilies, gingkoes, lotus seeds and other nuts to the soup to make it more delicious.

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東門大井 Communal well from 14th century

There are many ancient wells around this ancient city. There’s one that has been around since the founding of the Phoenix City 鳳城(潮州府舊稱)called the East Street Main Well. This well is still active, with locals still retrieving water for their own use. In the past, besides drinking water, this was also the “fire hydrant” and “warning system”of the city. It was said if the well water turned black, there would be a fire somewhere. Modern day explanation was that during winter, the water level was lower and the mud from the bottom mixed with water to give it the murky appearance, and winter is typically the driest months of the year and prone to fire hazards.

位於東門街的東門大井,也是古城區主要的公用水井之一。據《韓江記》記載,鳳城(潮州城)開闢之時已有東門大井,東門大井歷史悠久,歷代均有重修。古井井欄呈內圓外八角,相傳井水直通城外的韓江,因而泉涌終年不斷,附近的居民和鋪戶至今常常來此取水。除了供水,這口井在舊時還被當成是一口自帶「防火預警」功能的水井。每到了冬季,天乾物燥,韓江水位低,這時凡是東門大井淤泥上翻,井水變黑,人們就稱「不出三日定有火災」。有後人解釋,水色變黑是因天氣乾旱時居民用水頻繁翻起井中污泥,而天乾物燥也正是火災易發多發之時。

GuangJi Bridge 廣濟橋

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GuangJi Bridge 廣濟橋

Guangji Bridge, also known as Xiangzi Bridge, is an ancient bridge that crosses the Han River. A key cultural relic under national protection, the bridge is renowned as one of China’s four famous ancient bridges, the other three being Zhaozhou Bridge, Lugou Bridge, and Luoyang Bridge.

廣濟橋,俗稱湘子橋,位於廣東省潮州市東門外,為古代閩粵交通要道。與趙縣趙州橋、惠安縣洛陽橋及北京蘆溝橋並稱「中國四大古橋」,集拱橋、樑橋及浮橋於一體,為中國第一座啓閉式浮橋。

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筆架山 BiJia (Penholder) Mountain
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廣濟橋 韓公祠邊 Guangji Bridge (Opp End)

灯具方面,为了实现完美的广济桥光影秀效果,设计师对于灯光色彩提出了非常高的要求。又因为要控制桥上 1 万多套灯具的变化,以及将山体的灯光统一进行控制,这给联动控制体统也带来了巨大的挑战。另外,笔架山上的灯光除了色温可变之外,还要能显示出文字的变化,这也是 新的尝试。

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廣濟橋 廣濟樓邊 Guangji Bridge (Old City End)

The bridge is illuminated at night and has nightly lights and sound show, although the sound part can only be heard near the Guangji Tower. Walk closer to Shanghai Gate 上水門 where the hotel is, you can enjoy the full view of the bridge. Or you can go to the top of the hotel if you are staying there to look at the bridge from that height.

MuMian (Kapok) Mansion 木棉公館

And to stay in the old town, there are many choices right inside the walls. There are the modern hotels, but why stay there when you can choose a refurbished Republic era mansion.

Mumian Mansion is one of the few remaining 4-storey colonial style mansion built during the Nationalist Republic era (early 20th century). This original mansion was built by French architects renovated for modern comforts. It is located right behind Shanghai Gate. With 16 rooms, it is very popular and often booked out.

木棉公館是潮州僅存不多的完整獨棟四層洋樓,民國時期由法國人建造,今翻新修復,就在牌坊街上水門城樓旁邊,交通便利,停車方便,公館面積共一千多平米,共16間客房。早期洋人在中國建造的房屋都很有異國風情並且用料講究,堅固耐用!

Classic decor 民國裝潢

MuMian (Kapok) Mansion 木棉公馆
China, Chaozhou, 牌坊街上东平路2号 邮政编码: 521000
Tel : +86 768 223 8593

Private Dining Restaurant Next Door 隔壁的私房菜

Right next door to Mumian Mansion is a very good Teochew haute cuisine restaurant. Behind the nondescript entrance serves one of the best Teochew cuisine in Chaozhou. I had dinner and it was delicious, especially the raw marinated drunken crab. Here’s the review.

Chef Zheng’s Private Dining 鄭廚私房菜
上东平路1号,潮州
Tel : 0768-3991310

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