Gaopier Pohui Festival of the Miao

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April 5th 2012
Published: April 6th 2012
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The motorbike drop me off in the middle of nowhere in the mountain, pointed me to a small trail by the roadside leading uphill. "walk up that direction" the driver told me. "is it where the festival taking place?" I wondered to myself. It was already 10am and there was no one in sight, nothing suggested anything is going on, well...I paid 40 yuan for the ride from Tongle, I better trust the driver and followed his direction. Luckily the trail wasn't too difficult to figure out the right route, 30 minutes later I came to the col and couple of makeshift canteen already there, dozen of people scattering in different spots, waiting for thing to happen I guess. At least...I came to the festival ground! they told me I was early, "by noon!" they all said. Look at the place around, I wondered why people would choose a place that remote for a festival, I also wondered how the vendor managed to carried all their kitchen equipments up here. but not difficult to find the answer later. "money" was the motivation! the price for everything today will be 2 or 3 times high! people came to spend money today! Anyways... on every 15th day of Lunar March, the Miao in Tongle area will gathered here on the mountain above the Gaopier village. That matter what kind of weather, people just showup here. It was thundering and rain heavy last night, I wasn't hoping to find anything today under the clouded sky. But by noon as predicted...people just milling in from different trails. What was this festival about? no idea...but they all said it came down from long ago, mostly a day for young people, another dating function in the old day, a fun fair before plantation work really start. Today...Miao girls are predator and Miao boys are the prey. Girls would asked (or mostly forced) boys to buy them candy(no wondered there are so many vendors came with basket of candy), of course...if the girl is the one he fancy, the boy would happily open his wallet, but most of the time boys were on the run! A vendor told me most of the boy came with more then 200 yuan in their pocket today and....the vendor already figured out where are the market! For me...the festival ground was more like on market day, and taking picture was easy, I was always being spare while squeezed between human bodies...of course...I am not Miao!
For costume scene...great and hell...what I'd learn from the last few days couldn't really match in here, the Miao and the Dong???!!!!???? some of them just wear in the same style. "how can you tell?" I asked a local man there, well...he said he just know! and beside... "the Dong speak in Dong, and the Miao speak in Miao!" he added. very logical indeed(how come I never thought about this)! I can only put word on picture in this place, might not work in other area. Like the Dong in Dudong I'd seen couple of days ago, here...they call themselve Cao Miao! The Miao that could be Dong here call themselve Lao Miao. The surprised was Yao! There were couple of Yao villages in the nearby region, and they also came to attended. I was mistook them Miao at the beginning because of the way they dress and also I didn't realised there are Yao in the area. Actually I saw some in Laobao week ago and I just thought they were Miao. As they put on the same diamond shape apron and wear skirt with couple of patched designs on , and they were all in dark indigo and without much decoration. After 3 hours shooting on people faces I guess I had enough, but for them...being able to squat or sitting outdoor, with market style vendors and people seem enjoyable enough, still people coming in when I heading back downhill, heard there will be more party in Gaopier village in the evening...more drinks I would say!
Tongle town was just another uninteresting place, but the surrounding area are rather green, with many water-wheel on the river that created pretty scene. Here is another new found tea cultivate area in Sanjiang, supply their rich neighbour on the eastern made the famous blend of tea in those area with a far cheaper source from here!

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