Minority tourism

I planned to get to Chengyang village in a day from Yangshuo, but didn’t make it in one.

Took a bus at eight to Guilin. As i got off the bus, a man asked me where i was heading and i said Sanjiang. He started walking me to the bus station and i went with him. At the bus station he asked around for buses to Sanjiang. He said there were none available (this turned out to be false information later, as i saw Guilin-Sanjiang buses later on the road). So i said i’d take a bus to Longsheng and another from there on.

The man waited with me by the road where Longsheng buses go, and as one came, he boarded one with me. I thought he’d ask for money now, but no; now he started writing a ticket to me. I said i’d pay the girl usually selling tickets, and not him. We argued about this for maybe 10 minutes and i even told him i could pay a little for his help, but he didn’t want any. Then i stood up and went and paid for my trip. It was 5 yuan less than what the guy asked, and his “ticket” would have probably been useless. He got off the bus and wished me a nice trip. So, Even hustlers don’t want to lose face in china, at least sometimes:)

From Longsheng took another bus to Sanjiang. I arrived just a bit too late, the last bus to Chengyang had gone. I stayed one night at a small chinese hotel, 30 yuan for a private room with cable tv. It was nice as i’ve been staying at backpacker hostels so far.

Next morning off to Chengyang, a Dong village. I was quite surprised about the amount of tourist infrastructure. There were about 5 hotels and guesthouses in the village, all very basic wooden buildings though. And a 30 yuan fee was collected for seeing the place. Not many tourists around luckily, as the season is over. Only one Chinese tour group was in the village and a dance show was put up for them, and i saw some dancing and singing.

The locals seem to be running the tourist business, so things are well compared to Thailand for example, where Thai tourist companies pocket most of the money from tourists going to see the colorful minorities. And quite importantly there are no crazy American baptists, Korean catholics and the like roaming around saving people from going to hell. But it does make you wonder what it feels like living in a tourist village, a bit like a zoo. Not everyone in the village cares to give a smile to every tourist walking around their village. Some children ask for “one yuan”. Dong architecture is very nice, houses are wooden and no nails are used (at least traditionally).

I didn’t feel like taking any photos of people, although they dress very nicely, and have nice faces.

Next morning took a bus back to Sanjiang. and then another one on to Zhaoxing. Riding the local buses is fun, people getting on and off all the time, with lots of luggage, and some with chicken or other animals. The buses don’t take more people than there are seats for. Police seem to check them quite often; this happened twice to my ride. After checks the driver warns all the buses coming the other direction, as drivers would do in any country.

Zhaoxing village is very pretty, but there are even more hotels and hostels there. All shops have their signs up in very funny chinglish. But aside from this people seem to live as they always did, not really caring about the tourists walking around their home. I sat at my hotel/restaurant porch and watched French elderly tourist groups walk by, rats being gutted for food, and a chicken ending its life days and its blood drained to the sewer by the road, and old men squatting down in circles with long pipes hanging down their mouths. Rice is drying next to the village roads and indigo dyed cloth hangs drying everywhere.

The village is in a very pretty valley, with terraced rice all around. Most rice had just been harvested so the views were not the best. And it was hazy. Ricefields are ploughed with oxen, water buffaloes, horses or quite often just by hand. Horse carts are common sights on the roads. Guangxi and Guizhou provinces are the poorest in China.

It was very cold too, around 15 at daytime and colder at night (indoors too, of course).

There would have been many other villages and peoples to see, most notably Miao (or Hmong), but i had enough minority tourism for now, and took a 10 hour bus to Guyang, the capital of Guizhou province. Most of the roads are narrow, and a lot is just being improved. West from Guyang there’s a four lane highway, with not much traffic. But even there people walk next along the road balancing a pole on their shoulder, with heavy loads hanging from both ends, as on the smaller roads and footpaths.

Only spent two hours in Guyang and took a night train to Kunming. It is cold and rainy here. The city is not pretty as Chinese cities never are, but nice anyway. Some days here and then probably south to Xishuabanna (or Sipsongpanna in Dai language, meaning “12000 ricefields”). Might stop in Pu’er to buy some pu’er tea. Or then i just buy some here in Kunming.

As i cant read wikipedia here i have no idea what is behind the links above.

I keep forgetting my GPS off, so not many of the photos appear on the map.

photos from Friday, October 19th 2007
photos from Tuesday, October 16th 2007
Zhaoxing village 4 Zhaoxing village 7 Zhaoxing village 6 working on a paddy next to Zhaoxing Zhaoxing village 5 Zhaoxing village 4 Zhaoxing village 3 Zhaoxing village 2 Zhaoxing village terraces, and a woman with a heavy load terraces 2 Mr.Snake has left its skin on the path a woman with a baby on her back, working on a paddy terraces drum tower, some locals and some tourists terraces (Zhaoxing village somewhere in the mist)
photos from Sunday, October 14th 2007
my feet at my balcony wind-and-rain bridge 2 me and my new 180 yuan glasses Chengyang village 2 Chengyang village water wheel and a bridge behind water wheel chinese tourist dancing with some Dong people drum tower a small wind-and-rain bridge wind-and-rain bridge

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