Quite a few towns in Dongguan get their names from geographical features, like rivers, fields or hills. Likewise, Qiaotou named after a bridge. As early as the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), there was a small fair in what is today Li Wu Village in Qiaotou. Locals liked to gather there and spend the day. That fair happened to reside at the end of a land bridge. That’s how Qiaotou, which literally means “end of a bridge” in Chinese, got its name. Qiaotou’s history is associated with lotus from its very beginning. Almost every household had been growing lotus in their ponds during Ming and Qing Dynasty. The town was steeped in the affection towards lotus.
Qiaotou resides at the very northeast end of Dongguan, just a stone’s throw away from Huizhou City. Qiaotou does not enjoy the same spotlight as other mega towns in Dongguan in terms of GDP index and prosperity. It does not have its own distinguishable industries as the garments of Humen or furniture in Dalingshan. But it has the best fresh water and the best water treatments in Dongguan. The town is also where the Dongjiang – Shenzhen (Dongshen) Water Supply Scheme starts. The system, which began in 1960, consists of a pipeline from Qiaotou to a reservoir in Shenzhen next to Hong Kong, providing 70 percent of the Hong Kong’s fresh water today.
WHAT CAN I DO?
In the east of Qiaotou right in the middle of the Dong River lies a small island which takes the shape of an aircraft carrier. It’s called Song Wuzhou or Song Wu Delta. On the island grows many rare plants, and various fruit trees. Some locals run several orchards there in which visitors can pick the fruits right off the tree. Among those the most popular one is dragon fruit orchard. Every summer it’s packed with visitors, part of the reason being that dragon fruit helps to get rid of the “hot qi” inside the human body, especially in summer, according to traditional Chinese medicine. There is a beach with white soft sand on the front shore of the island. The whole island would be a nice choice for weekend getaway.
Qiaotou is not meant for people looking for the high-end entertainment experience, or fancy restaurants, but it does have something you might wow you. Growing lotus has long been the custom for people in Qiaotou. In the center of the town, there was a big pool in which the locals grew lotus as early as the Ming Dynasty. Today Qiaotou government has renovated it into a huge lake of 200,000 sq. meters, and built a beautiful park around it, which serves as the most well-known scenic area in town. Since 2004, people have been planting a large mass of lotuses in the lake in early March every year. When summer comes, the lake turns into a colorful lotus world. Tourists and photographers pour in for this beautiful moment. The government also holds a Lotus Festival in June every year to publicize the lotus lake and its tourism endeavor.
Behind the lake is a small hill on the top of which stands an octagonal tower overlooking the lake. Although the tower is newly built and not historical, it does make the whole scene more picturesque.
Yes, that’s one of the things you can surely do in Qiaotou for the summer. When winter comes, especially during Chinese New Year, interestingly the scene of the lake might wow you again. What you will be seeing is not lotus, but 200,000 sq. meters of rape seed fields. Local people get rid of all the lotus in the lake when the summer time passes and begins to plant canola seeds. The blooming season for canola lasts from late January to early March. In February, 2013, the local government held the First Canola Festival by the lake. Walking through this massive golden yellow canola field may be an amazing and unique experience for visitors in Dongguan.
There are bus lines that go directly to Qiaotou from Dongguan main bus stations. If you go by car or taxi, it takes about one hour and costs RMB 120 taxi fare from downtown Dongguan.
Location: Northeast Dongguan
Area: 56 sq. kilometers
Journey time: around one hour from downtown
Local Attractions: Lotus Lake, Lotus Lake Park, Canola Fields, Song Wu Delta.