Sister Meal Festival in Shidong Province in Southern China 1 – 4 May 2015
So after 3 nights in the Trade Point Hotel in Guiyang, and seeing, in and around the region, we were met by our new guide Jonathan who was to take us to see the Miao and Dong people who are 2 of the minority groups in southern China. The reason we came to China at this time of the year was to attend the Sister Meal Festival in Shidong, over 200kms due east of Guiyang. The region is called the Qiandongnan Miao & Dong Autonomous Prefecture. This is a festival where young men select a new bride. If the girl is not interested in the man she will give him multi coloured rice and chillies and brown chop sticks. If she is very interested in him, she will give him multi-coloured rice with a herb and pink chopsticks.
During the Festival, all the women get dressed up in silver headdress and elaborately embodied jackets and skirts which are also heavily decorated with silver decorations including bells wish jangle as they walk. It was a very colourful sceptical. There was a parade of traditionally
dressed women and a few men.
The procession walked about a kilometre to the Festival site which was along the river. Here were a lot of tents with food and games. There was an area similar to our side-show alley but Chinese-style. There was lots of chilli tofu and vegetables eaten. All the girls danced to the sound of big drums. It was a fantastic event.
There was also cock fighting and buffalo fighting, neither of which I watched other than for a split second to see what was going on.
We then drove over 200km back to Guiyang. This was after the May Day public holiday. We had heard that on the Sunday, the last day of the holiday long weekend, the whole 200kms of road was bumper-to-bumper traffic. Because China has very few public holidays and the middle class of people has been expanding along with their wealth, more people are travelling.
During our time travelling around numerous rural villages, Jonathan took us to see long-skirt Miao people and short-skirt Miao people as well as Dong people and Gejia people, so we saw many different traditional clothing. It was really interesting walking through these
villages, most of them built on the hillside because on the lower areas as well as above the houses where terraces of rice, canola, wheat and corn as well as many vegetables and herbs.
In one village we saw the original paper making which had been handed down through the generations. In the Shidong village we saw a number of silversmiths.
We used Kaili as our base for these 3 days in the Miao/Dong region. This is a city with 0.5mill people, again with extensive building program. The Grand Metro Park Heaven-sent Hotel where we stayed was very new with all the modern fittings in the rooms.
The car we drove around in was a very new Chinese brand SUV...very comfortable and with Mr Eing who couldn’t speak any English but was an insulin-dependent diabetic (there are 90 million Diabetics in China, many of whom are Type 2. There are 1.4 billion people in China).
Jonathon our guide spoke good English and made sure we saw as much as possible and experienced as many different things, including the local food.
The main popular local dish was the hotpot where we all sat around a low
table on little stools. In the middle of the table was a heating element where a big pot of spicy broth boiled and where meat and vegetables were added. Rice accompanied most meals. The other favourite local dish was Sour Soup which was similar to the hotpot but with more ginger. All meals in this area are eaten with chilli. Yum!!
So the first 6 days in China has been a cultural experience, travelling through beautiful, mountainous countryside. We arrived back in Guiyang at about 9.00pm after stopping along the way for a local meal.
The next morning (6 May) in Guiyang, Jonathon picked us up and on the way to the airport, we stopped into see the Jiaxiu Pavilion Park which was built in the 7th
Century. We then flew to Xi’an.
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