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Guizhou Miao and Dong culture in the mountains (5 days), 2019/04/03

Miao and Dong culture in the mountains of Guizhou, 2019/04

See a trip journal and a set of 40 photos from the five days trip to Guizhou's Qiandongnan Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture

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See trip photos, and read hike leader Victoria's trip journal.

This trip was all about hiking in picturesque terraces and forests in the southeast of Guizhou province, and visiting villages inhabited by people of Miao, Dong, and Shui ethnic groups.

Generally, the weather of this trip was nice and warm, with a few raindrops felt on one of the hikes. The temperatures in the area were higher than in Beijing, and the climate was humid—often the fog in the morning would clear up when the sun came out at noon. Even when it rained it didn't feel cold. But the rain and mud made a mess of our hiking boots.

Day 1

We landed in Guiyang, capital of Guizhou province, at around 11:30, after a nearly 3-hour flight from Beijing. Received by our local guide at the Guiyang airport, we started our journey to Qiandongnan Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture. Along our way, we stopped for lunch at Longli County (龙里) in the Qiannan Buyi and Miao Autonomous Prefecture, where we were able to see the unique character of the architectures of Miao people.

We drove out to Danzhai County (丹寨) for a hike, arriving at around 3 pm. After checking in the hotel, we headed to Gaoyao Village (高要) for an one-hour walking tour through the rice terraces and houses of Miao people, one of the 21 ethnic groups in Danzhai.

Guizhou trip, April 2019 photo #40
Yuncong Waterfall (云从瀑布) is one of the main scenic sites in Longli, composed of a dragon's head sculpture and body along the Longjia Mountain (龙架山).
Guizhou trip, April 2019 photo #41
Miao-style architecture in Longmenzhen (龙门镇).

Day 2

We drove to Sandu Shui Autonomous county (三都水族自治县), the only autonomous county of Shui people in China. It is under the administration of the Qiannan Buyi and Miao Autonomous Prefecture.

It was the day before the Tomb-Sweeping Festival holiday. In the local market in the morning we saw Shui people preparing for their tomb-sweeping ritual to honor their deceased.

In the afternoon, we hiked in two villages—Tengneng (腾能) and Ligao (里稿).

Guizhou trip, April 2019 photo #42
We walked past rice paddies in Danzhai.
Guizhou trip, April 2019 photo #43
Women of the Shui ethnic group in a morning market fair in Sandu. The residences of the Shui People are located along the upper stream of Duliu and Longjiang Rivers in the south of the Miaoling Mountains in the Yungui (Yunnan-Guizhou) Plateau.
Guizhou trip, April 2019 photo #44
A mountain village of the Shui ethnic group. Large bamboo and verdant pines are often seen in this area.
Guizhou trip, April 2019 photo #45
A house of Miao people in Danzhai county. The Miao people tend to form villages based on clan. Each clan in Guizhou builds their own village on separate mountain slopes. Most houses are made out of wood with a mountain-shaped structure.

Day 3

We spent most of the day hiking in the mountains, walking along farm field tracks and visiting three villages—Guiliu (归柳), Zengying (增盈) and Rongfu (荣福)— in the Dong territory of Rongjiang County.

We hiked about 5 hours, including a lunch break at the Wind and Rain bridge, a characteristic piece of architecture with pavilions constructed on the bridge for people to have a rest or meet for a chat.

The bridge is mainly made of wood, with dovetails used to connect all the wood together. Despite the simple materials, the ingenuity and workmanship of the Dong people made the bridge so sturdy that it still stands and is in constant use. Along the wooden railings, there are benches that are used for relaxation.

Guizhou trip, April 2019 photo #46
We hiked through hills with lots of greenery and old-growth trees on a walk between the villages of Tengneng and Ligao.
Guizhou trip, April 2019 photo #47
Rice roots left in the paddies from a previous harvest. Rice is planted annually in this area. When the rice harvest is over, some of the fields are used to plant rapeseed.
Guizhou trip, April 2019 photo #48
A pagoda-type drum tower of the Dong people is a venue for the whole village to discuss and settle important village affairs, hold important festivals or entertainment like singing and playing wind instruments. In the past, a big drum in the tower was beaten whenever something important happened.
Guizhou trip, April 2019 photo #49
One of our guests rests on the village trail, looking at the Dong people working in the fields.

Day 4

We started a 1.5-hour journey from Rongjiang county to Liping county to visit a large Dong village with 5,000 residents. With drum towers, Wind and Rain bridges and other features of the Dong ethnic group, this was a nice place to explore. After lunch with local food, the vans took us to the top of the mountain and we started a 2-hour walk in the mountains and on the rice terraces.

Guizhou trip, April 2019 photo #50
Picturesque rice paddies near a Dong village.
Guizhou trip, April 2019 photo #51
A small Wind and Rain bridge in Zhaoxing.

Day 5

The last day of the trip was challenging for some of us, and very relaxing for the rest. We split into two group, some choosing a 2-hour hike in a wild forest, and others talking a walking tour through the village.

We then headed for Guiyang to catch our flight back to Beijing.

Guizhou trip, April 2019 photo #52
Some of us had a challenging hike in the wild forest in the Dong village.
Guizhou trip, April 2019 photo #53
Morning in the village.

See more trip photos below!

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