Dalang was first spotted on the map as a central part of a county more than 1,600 years ago. It had been a political, economic and cultural center for 200 years at its time. About its name origins, there was a kind of grass that was widely grown named lang grass, so locals named their land Dalang, or big grass. Over time, people began to use a simplified “lang” instead of the original one, which is what its name looks like today.
Dalang is located in the south of Dongguan, east of Songshan Lake and north of Shenzhen. Today, the cardigan you are wearing now is probably made here. Dalang is heavily invested in the knitting industry. It has over 3,000 knitting factories and a fully developed network covering all the parts involved from research and design to the training of workers. Most of its sweaters are exported overseas, and it even has its own Dalang International Woolen Knitwear Fair every year. Knitting has become Dalang’s prime industry and it has won fame as China’s Cardigan Town. Dalang has also made leaps in the IT and manufacturing industries; its economy is among the leaders in Dongguan.
WHAT CAN I DO?
Aside from the sweaters you might be wearing on the street, Dalang is a town of basketball. It’s not an exaggeration to say people are avid fans of the game. Every village has its own basketball team, and some even support two. Dalang’s men basketball team has claimed seven consecutive championship titles from the Dongguan Basketball League. It’s also home to another CBA basketball team, the Dongguan New Century Leopards. We all know Dongguan is a basketball city, but where can we really feel its heartbeat? Now you may know where to go.
In Caibian Village, there is a very beautiful temple named Fu De Tang, or Bliss Merit Hall. The temple was once a dump site behind an ancestral hall. Then the villagers decided to turn it into a place for the elderly to relax and pass the time. Completed in 2006, the temple is an intricately crafted two-story construction. It resembles the classic Lingnan architectural style in which you can see stone carvings, the frequent usage of grey bricks and colorful roof tiles.
On the first floor, it has facilities for older villagers to enjoy. It’s even cooler on the second floor, where there is a folk life museum. Although there is nothing ancient, the room exhibits folk artifacts from the last century, especially the ones from old time farming, reviving the techniques used by their ancestors to live and work. With a first step into the museum, you’ll find quite a feeling of time reversal. The temple is clean, tranquil and appealing. It’s a good choice for a weekend trip.
If you are looking for something ancient, Dajing Tou Village will be your pick. A cluster of ancient buildings dating from the Ming Dynasty are well preserved in accordance with their original look. Among them are 13 houses, a school, and an ancestral hall. When overlooked from the sky, the outline of the cluster actually takes the shape of a crab, with two 800-year-old wells resembling two big eyes. It’s believed to have been designed according to Fengshui principles. Talking a stroll at a place from 600 years ago could be something different.
Dalang has another big thing to its name. Joining the U.K., U.S. and Japan, China is building its first Spallation Neutron Source research center here. Once it is completed in 2018, Dalang will have China’s largest scientific device. It’s a shame, but it won’t be open as a tourist attraction.
Dalang is convenient to reach. There are buses to Dalang from the three main bus stations. Bus L4, which goes through downtown, can take you there, too. The journey time will be about two hours.
If taking a taxi there, you only have to spend 45 minutes and about RMB 80.
Location: South Dongguan
Area: 118 sq. kilometers
Journey Time: around 50 minutes from downtown
Local Attractions: Fu De Tang temple, Dajing Tou Village, basketball