Rural China - Miao Minority Villages

Trip Start Sep 28, 2008
Trip End Oct 04, 2008

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Where I stayed
Zhenyuan Fucheng Hotel, Zhenyuan
Ramada Plaza Hotel, Guiyang
Grand Dragon Hotel, Kaili

Flag of China  ,
Monday, October 13, 2008

We organized a 7-day tour to the Miao Minority Villages through China
Highlights, over the Internet.

We chose China Highlights because they could organize the tour for the
days that we had free from our work in Jiangsu Province during Golden Week. The
Tour options provided were what we were interested in experiencing. The travel
advisor, Mr. Leon Long, was always quick to respond to our messages as the tour
was organized from Australia.

On arriving at Guiyang Airport we were met by our Tour Guide Michael (Liang
Feng). He was very friendly and helpful from the outset and spoke excellent
English. He took us off to the Hotel Ramada Plaza in Guiyang. As we had arrived
with the afternoon available to see things, Michael took us off to a local
market, to experience and see the way of life in Guiyang. It was a fascinating
insight into the type of goods sold in the region (This was not part of our
original itinerary). After this tour we went back to our hotel and had a rest
prior to taking a walk through the streets of Guiyang. We felt very safe and
the local people were very friendly, although, by the looks we were given, it
would appear that they did not see westerners very often. The young Chinese
often said Hello to us.

Our tour proper began when we left Guiyang and traveled to Kaili. The
expressways where very impressive but definitely need local knowledge and skill
to negotiate. There seemed to be a surprise around every corner and to say road
rules in this part of China are random is an understatement. However, our
driver, Mr. Yung, was up to the task and was a very safe and capable driver. It
was very busy on the roads as our tour coincided with the Chinese Golden week,
celebrating the Chinese National Day - October 1st.

The scenery through the
hills to Kaili was amazing with the terracing of the rice fields with the
people working the fields. Michael took us to the Kaili museum, which gave us a
overview of the Miao minority peoples and their way of life - very worthwhile. We
were then taken to the Grand Dragon Hotel, which as a very comfortable Hotel. After
a very fulfilling meal we then went off to the Qingman Miao Village. Along the
way we stopped and walked into the rice fields for photographs and even
participated in the harvest briefly - a great experience. At the Qingman Miao
Village we walked through the village and visited the house of a family and
witnessed some cloth being woven on a loom. The Miao tradition of welcome was a
pleasant surprise and the people of the village very friendly.

We continued into the countryside to a Shiqiao village where we saw how
paper was traditionally made. As tourists we were asked whether we wanted to
participate in different stages of the paper production. It was very
interesting watching and participating in the process. The walk through the village,
witnessing how the villagers lived, was also a delight. That night returning to
Kaili we witnessed the workers returning home in the dark after their long day
harvesting rice in the fields.

The next morning we were packed and headed off to the Ancient city of
Zhenyuan. Again, along the road was, some amazing scenery. Once again, any time
at which we wanted to take photographs the car was stopped for the opportunity
and at times Michael decided that we could walk along a stretch of road adjacent
to some awe inspiring views.

When we arrived at Zhenyaun we were taken to the Zhenyuan Fucheng
Hotel, which was a basic room but in a great location in the middle of the main
attractions of the town. We had several interesting walks and saw life of the
local and touring Chinese people.

We were taken to a magnificent lunch and then proceeded to the Wuyang
river where we were taken on a river cruise - beautiful scenery along the
river. We also witnessed a Miao dancing troupe performing, which was
fascinating - both the girls and the male flute players.

On the return to town we
had free time to explore the streets prior to enjoying another delicious meal.
After the meal we had time to again walk the streets experiencing the

The following morning after Michael and Mr. Yung had organized our
breakfast, we were taken on a tour of the town by foot. The ancient Green Dragon
Cave with its 500-year history and buildings on the cliff face. They also had a
traditional artist present, and the views of this town and the drum tower
bridge across the river were also fascinating. We then visited a local temple,
a museum and continued our walk through the ancient town. We visited a tofu
manufacturer (cottage industry), tasting his wares, which were very good; the
300 year old Fu family residence and many amazing scenes as we climbed the
cliff behind the town. The scenes of the town from these heights were
breathtaking. You need to be fairly fit for this climb.

On our return to the streets Michael and Mr. Yung took us to a temple devoted
to the fishermen, where we saw the renovations being carried out in traditional
style. After this, we went for another long walk along riverbank paths (about
4km each way, not too strenuous but not easy) to Tiexi - an amazing, but small,
vivid blue lake. It was well worth the picturesque walk along the river to see
this small lake. After all the walking we slept well that night.

After breakfast, again catered for by Michael and Mr. Yung, we headed
back towards Kaili. Our first official stop (other than for photographs) was
the residence of Mr. Wu Yong Sheng, in the Shidong Village, who proceeded to
demonstrate his skills in melting and forming silver sheets from which he then
made a silver ornament. A traditional Miao costume complete with 10 kg of
silver ornamentation was then modeled for us. We were also lavished with a meal
made in the family's kitchen. After a walk through the village we proceeded to The
Miao Village of Nanhua. At this village we received the traditional Miao
welcome drink and were privileged to witness a series of dances performed by
the village people. We then headed for Kaili and the Grand Dragon Hotel once
again. Again we felt safe to walk the streets and witness a local market and
get together of the localsand holidaying Chinese nationals.

The following morning we headed back to Guiyang. Along the way stops
were made for photographs and once again the efficiency of the Chinese expressway
and the safety of Mr. Yung's driving soon had us back in Guiyang. Michael took
us to the Jiaxiulou, an ancient school. He told us of its history and
significance to the town. After which we once again were feted to a sumptuous
lunch. We were then driven to the Hongfusi, The Great Happiness Temple, from
which we walked down through the Qianling Park to the bottom beside the Quianling
lake. We saw the many monkeys along the road all attempting to coax from the
visitors. A practice not encouraged. After we had dinner at the Hotel, we once
again went for a night walk and witnessed an enormous international photography
exhibition - an amazing number of photographs of unbelievable subjects - many
of Chinese locations and peoples.

The last day were delivered to the airport for our flight back to
Nanjing. Michael was eager to make sure that we arrived with plenty of time to
receive our seat allocation and go through to the departure gate prior to the
departure time.

Michael (Liang Feng) and Mr. Yung were excellent hosts throughout the
tour and were willing to do anything that we wished to do. Mr Yung was a very
capable driver and during the meals was an entertaining host. Although Mr. Yung
spoke little English, he always communicated well with us and made us feel safe
and welcome at all times.

We would recommend this trip and this China Highlights to anyone
wishing to experience Rural China, The Miao minority people and Guizhou
Province in particular.
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