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nomadnorrie From Sydney to the formula 1 grand prix in Shanghai, Beijing, South Korea, Mongolia, Russia, Ukraine and Europe. Final destination by train is London. Hopping on a flight to Finland, then on to Japan and finally back to Sydney.

Meeting the village people (of southern Guizhou)

CHINA | Thursday, 20 March 2008 | Views [2778] | Comments [1]

Basha village pig house

Basha village pig house

Sanjiang

I arrived just before 2pm and found out that there were no more buses to Zhaoxing that day. I found a hotel in Sanjiang, dropped my bag off and headed straight for the nearby Chengyang wind and rain proof bridge. Since I only had an hour there I decided not to go in to the town (which cost 30 Yuan), instead I climbed the hill opposite the entrance gate and got a fabulous view of the village for free.


I also got to see some of the waterwheels that are used to flood the fields just above the river.

Zhaoxing

The bus to Zhaoxing was a bumpy 5 hour ride that started with sitting on the bus for 1 hour in the bus station for no apparent reason. The driver and conductor teased us with several mock departures but each time they started the engine, switched it off and then disappeared off into the station. The last time the station conductor came on board she wanted to check tickets. Rather than actually checking tickets she just asked "Who has not bought a ticket?" Amusingly there were 3 people who hadn't paid and they wouldn't own up. Five more minutes of asking (not ticket checking) and the ticket cheats were found. At last we were off, we didn't get far though. The petrol station 10 minutes down the road was clogged up with waiting trucks and motorcycles so we had to wait there for another half an hour. This is rural China.

Several people on the bus were sick on the way and the conductor went through a pile of plastic bags, including 4 for the woman sitting next to me. Each time she looked a bit better she leant over me and deposited the bright red plastic bag out of the window, as did the others. That would help to explain why the countryside is littered with red, green, orange, black and yellow plastic bags (on that one route alone there are 2 services each day each way, I reckon that makes up to 100 plastic bags chucked out of bus windows every day). This picture might show why.


On the way we passed through Diping where there was a busy market in the main street. The bus moved slowly through the market tooting the horn along the way. People all along the street were looking at me and quietly saying laowai, I must have heard it about 50 times in 5 minutes!

After arriving in Zhaoxing I walked through the quaint old town and took some photos. The children were mostly very sweet and the adults were also very cheerful indeed.


The next day it rained so I spent a lot of time indoors. The staff at the hotel I was staying at were so helpful and kind it was unbelievable, especially considering my room only cost 35 Yuan per night. Their smiles and kindness easily made up for the dreary weather. In the afternoon I got a further taste of the local warmth when I visited the nearby town called Jilun. I first trekked up through the rice fields following the path but soon ended up too high and far from where I wanted to go.


Unlike Longji rice terraces the paths here are not all paved with stone. The rain overnight and in the morning left the paths quite muddy so they were a touch slippery for such a clumsy oaf like me. In any case I kept on going, when I decided to go back down the terraces I found my way down this rather steep incline while being watched eagerly by the farmer below. Had I fallen I would have landed softly in his muddy rice field below.


Once I reached Jilun people were greeting me huge smiles. Several people were lugging manure up to the fields above the town and with some of them I had a delightful chat.


When I went back to Zhaoxing I passed several kids that were waiving my off, the shy ones hiding behind doors or windows. Very funny.


It seems despite this town being a bit difficult to get to the tourist shops have still sprung up here and there. It is nothing like as bad as Lijiang though. Instead of hassling me the shop owners quietly mouthed words to the effect of come in while waving me over. Their hard sell was a bit fluffy really. I was tempted to buy some bracelets that are apparently made of silver, I checked with the tourist office and the woman confirmed that there are many that are not real silver. "The slightly expensive ones are" she said, but the thought of being sold a cheap silver like bracelet for a real silver price put me off.

My only regret, the trees and flowers were just starting to bloom, in a few weeks the fields would be full of colour. I should have gone a couple of weeks later.

On the way to Congjiang

I waited all morning for a bus in Zhaoxing and finally gave up at lunchtime. I decided to walk since the fee for the 5km trip to the nearest biggish town was excessive. After walking 1km I managed to get a lift in a farmers 3 wheeled truck (5 Yuan, but I got 2 free oranges) and then waited in Luoxiang for the next bus to Congjiang. I started chatting to the girl next to me and before I knew it she ended up giving me a tour of the main street. Then we sat and talked with some of her friends until the bus was ready to go. When it was time for me to go we walked along the main street in front of the bus to collect my rucksack (stored at the girl's house). I hopped on the bus and thanked her and she came back with a large bag of oranges with her name and phone number scribbled on a piece of paper lying on top.

Luoxiang is the sort of place where the whole family stand at the side of the street to wave off their brother or sister getting on the bus. As we moved out of the town crowds of people were grouped together where only one or two were getting on the bus. I actually got a very good deal and felt sorry for some of the villagers getting on the bus. They all argued about the price and astonishingly some paid more than I did! I wasn't carrying any chickens, portable cookers or 20kg bags of oranges, perhaps that was why.

After a couple of hours on a very bumpy dirt/mud road we arrived in a dusty town called Congjiang.

Basha

Despite the loud claps of thunder and regular flashes of lightning on the evening of my arrival in Congjiang the weather the next day was OK. Basha lies on a hill above Congjiang about 10km away. I got there by hopping on the back of a motorcycle for 5 Yuan from where the road leads up the hill. The village has houses both side of the main road on the ridge and I went to the right - in the opposite direction of the main tourist highlights. The paved pathway to the lower end of the village was easy going but as soon as it ended I began to slip and slide all over the place. When I finally did slip over my fresh clean trousers got caked in a thick terracotta coloured mud. Getting up I could just about see the young girl laughing at me, so I smiled at her. For the rest of the day I had people pointing and laughing at the mud caked onto my trousers. Nonetheless I decided I still wanted to go further to get a closer look at the terraces at the bottom of the village.


Buildings in Basha are almost exclusively made of wood. The village has a medieval feel about it with it's broken fences, tree bark covered roofs, dirt paths and huge luomi (long grain rice, I think) drying racks.


Although not all of the local Miao people wear traditional style clothing, lots of them do.


The locals mostly took very little notice of me and some looked the other way as I passed. It was very very peaceful. On my way back up I met some kids and they then followed me up the hill to the main road. The kids were extremely interested in what they looked like in the photos and laughed a lot when I showed them. When I asked if I could take a photo one of them asked if I would send them the photos. Then the eldest boy put an address on pen and paper and later when I got back to Congjiang I got these photos printed for them.


Thinking I had got away with it I was asked to pay the entrance fee as I was leaving. I walked down the hill back to Congjiang in less than an hour.

Xijiang

After a 6 hours bus ride I made it to my connection point called Leishan. From there I still had a 1 and a half hour bus ride to Xijiang. On the second bus we stopped and people got out to do some shopping while I watched them on the bus. When we arrived I found a place to stay and wandered around briefly to get a feel for the place. Finally I could sit in the sun and have a cold beer.

The next morning I got up early to roam around more rice fields and headed up the hill. Xijiang didn't really capture my imagination in the way that the other villages had so far and I felt a bit let down. However, it was still a marvelous end to an excellent trip through some out of the way places in southern Guizhou province.

Comments

1

luomi (long grain rice, I think) - I was nearly right. It is actually pronounced nuomi and is glutinous rice.

  nomadnorrie Mar 28, 2008 7:05 PM

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