Travel Exposé: Guizhou Province (1)

Welcome back to this week’s issue of “Bajan,” Chinese Style, and as usual I wish that each and every one of you have had a wonderful week and hope that you have fun and exciting things planned for the weekend. If you don’t, then you’re probably planning on just laying back, putting up your feet and enjoying these two days of freedom that oh so sweet domestic bliss. Well, regardless of your plans, my week’s end gift to you is this week edition of Travel Exposé, which takes us to the  mysterious Province of Guizhou, China. china31

Guizhou Province is located in Southwestern China and is truly rightly deserving of the term, mysterious. There are two reasons for this. The first and usually the one which is the  clincher for run of the mill Chinese and foreign tourists is that Guizhou is commonly known within China as the poor man’s province. Due to its mountainous topography and low levels of infrastructure, especially in the years before the turn of the century, the rapid development for which China is so famed, and which saw the extensive growth of cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou etc, had more or less passed Guizhou by. To the layman tourist, local Chinese tourists included, it was unthinkable to even entertain the idea of travelling far less, vacationing in Guizhou Province. The second reason which gave rise to Guizhou’s mysterious allure is once again its mountainous terrain, Karst stone bedrock, extensive cave and river systems and unpredictable weather, which leans itself more towards the spontaneous thunder or hailstorm more so than the sunny days which tourists so love.  Therefore, due to this dynamic combination of economic and geographic factors, the beauty that is Guizhou province went both undiscovered and practically unwanted for decades.

However, with the growth of nature based tourism, and the sheer geographical importance of the province, Guizhou has been experiencing a rise in tourism in the past years. Soaring karst mountain peaks, interlocked with lush green, mist filled deciduous valleys, which often hide the entrances of large caves which boast endemic flora, fauna and magnificent waterfalls, some of the largest in the world. Also, this says nothing of the ethnic landscape of the region which is as diverse and unique as the physical landscape. 

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Huang Guo Shu Waterfall AAAAA National Park, Anshun, Guizhou Province, P.R. China,2016

The largest ethnicity in China is the Han, which accounts for 92% of the total population, and the other 55 ethnicities constituting the remaining 8% of the population. The figures may be shocking, but we must always bear in mind that China has one of the largest populations in the world, and  thus, 8% is more than the combined population of many countries. That being said, in Guizhou Province the Han majority makes up 55% of the total population with the remaining 35% consisting of over 18 ethnic minorities. In terms of ethnic diversity, Guizhou is only outdone by Yunnan Province, which boasts over 35 ethnic minorities living in relative harmony. The major ethnic minorities which can be found in Guizhou province are the Miao, Dong, Tujia, Zhuang and Shui.

Miao1(Guizhou Miao Ethnicity Female Traditional Garb)

Due to this cultural diversity, Guizhou is a hotspot for cultural festivities and celebrations and has the most numerous ethnic festivals of all provinces. This coupled with the well maintained local villages which see a relatively small amount of tourist traffic, the extremely well maintained natural environment makes Guizhou the new backpackers paradise. The inhabitants of Guizhou are also nationally known as being extremely hospitable to travellers, and I can say from personal experience that this is undoubtably true. The locals of Guizhou are almost unmatched in their openness and willingness to help travellers. 

The capital of Guizhou is Guiyang City, and like all Chinese cities it is a sprawling metropolis. However, due to Guizhou’s slow economic development, the city is a a far cry from the modernity of Shanghai or Beijing. However, in recent years, Guiyang has gained the title of having the largest “Neighbourhood” in all of Asia, as one new neighbourhood(花果园)Hua Guo Yuan, covers an area of over 10,000 square metres and can accommodate over 45,000 inhabitants. However, Guizhou, also boasts many towns and

villages which serve as gateways into the many natural scenic parks and reserves for which the province is now famed. One of the gateway or transit cities is Anshun, from which one can easily plan day trips to Huang guo shu Waterfall, Long gong Caves and so on.

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( Hua Guo Yuan, Guiyang, Guizhou Province, P.R China,2016)

Thus, to wrap up our quick exposé on Guizhou Province, I greatly recommend this province if you are in search of a mixture of natural beauty and human cultural expression. Does the charm of local folk festivals and age old tradition allure you? Hear the roar of the largest waterfall in China and the third largest in the world? Yearning to experience the grandeur of great underground Karst caverns? Then a trip to Guizhou will most certainly not disappoint.

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