The Unique Guizhou (part 3)

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April 14th 2018
Published: April 18th 2018
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We came back to Guiyang for a break, the weather was cold and rainy, a perfect day to visit a museum. Guizhou Provincial Museum opened its new rendition last year with it’s gigantic and modern looking building. it has an amazing digital displays of ‘Colorful Guizhou’ deciphering the cultural and customs of Guizhou‘s many minority groups. I especially enjoyed watching the video clips of the ‘Non-material heritage inheritors’ - a designated title for the master crafters in each specific fields. I never realize the complicated progress involved in turning a piece of wood into a exquisite lacquerware, nor the art of batik or weaving an intricate bird cage. There is so much we can learn from these masters. The whole second floor is dedicated to the customs, the silver headdresses and festival wardrobe of different ethnic groups. What really makes this museum so different from all the other museums was the way they incorporateed children’s play areas at many corners of the museum. Children are allowed to run around, dress up and interact digitally with various museum characters. Even Zimo, at 2 years old, thoroughly enjoyed this museum. Dont miss this place if you are in Guiyang.

Huanguoshu waterfall is the biggest one in China. The park provides free bus shuttles between the 3 main attraction areas. The ‘Sky Star Trail’ (天星洞) required some walking but has the best scenery. The ‘big’ waterfall can be accessed by an escalator. After Niagara fall and Iguazu it’s a little hard to be impressed by this beautiful but not very big waterfall.

From an article I sent to Wang Yang, she found out about the last cave dwelling village in China, Zhongdong (中洞). It is in a remote area and the only way to reach them is by walking 3 hours round trip up and down some narrow paths and many primitive stone steps. 20 minutes into the walk, ray and I gave up and encouraged the young ones to continue without us. While waiting for them, we met some of the villagers, including a 73 year old grandma hiking back from the markets. This Hmong village has 18 families, about 70 people living together in this giant cave. Their ancestors moved to the cave in 1940s to avoid bandits in the area. In 2003,an American, Hurank Bode, donated money to provide the villagers with electricity. The Chinese government also built some houses in the valley but the villagers refused to move. The cave community uses the dripping water from the cave‘s ceiling as a source of drinking water. The families have livestocks, small corn and vegetable plots, even a school. All other materials are carried in by treking along the difficult path. Wang Yang was quite intrigued with the people and shared many of her pictures here. We hope that the villagers would be successful in negotiating with the government to provide a road to their cave. That would greater benefit the life’s of China’s last cave dwelling people.

After such a long and tiring day, we decided to forego our planned itinerary, and instead spent the night at a nearby park called Ge Tu (格凸). Even though this park is a Chinese 4A National Park , none of us had heard of it before. Upon entering the park, we encountered a huge cave and watched a Hmong man (dubbed the Spider-Man) climbing free handed up the steep wall - a skill Hmong people used to collect swallow nests and hanging coffins on the bluff. 90% of karst formations in the world are in Asia and the majority of them in China are in the Guizhou area. We found quite a few western rock climbers (Belgian, Germany, Canadia) in Ge Tu. It turns out that Ge Tu is world famous for rock climbing. We continued to walk along the path inside the open cave and admired the magnificent scenery. The cave is very deep but the steps were well planned and spaced with flat area for easy walking. Once we were out of the cave, we boarded a boat and went down the Ge Tu river. A clean and wonderful river where the driver showed us the hanging coffins along the river bank . Sometimes, unplanned destinations surprise and enchant us even more than what’s on the planned itinerary. One benefit of traveling through China as senior citizens is the entrance fee to all parks and attractions are free regardless if you are citizens or foreigners. Do remember to bring your proof of age with you.

After two weeks of traveling with Qiao Kei and his family, it was time to say goodbye and continue on our way to Japan. I snapped one last cute picture of the little rice girl and wished them a safe trip home!

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