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Testing, testing

Off to Guizhou

sunny 27 °C

I haven't done this in a while, but the circumstances of the past week are forcing me to depart for China tomorrow more tech-ed up than ever before, so I thought I might as well do a little blog diary while I'm at it.

This time I'm heading to Guizhou Province in southern China. What do I know about Guizhou? Not much. I've read that it's the poorest province in China, and I know it's incredibly ethnically diverse. That's about it. I don't even really know what the weather will be like - somewhere between 3 and 28 if I'm to take any notice of what I've seen on the internet. But the reason I'm going there is to immerse myself in some of the post- lunar new year festivals of the ethnic minorities. Should be lots of fun! And colourful.

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Posted by Andrea R 15:25 Comments (0)

A Day in Guiyang

Capital of Guizhou

overcast 24 °C
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After a day of fog across China delaying flights into Guiyang, Sunday night’s highlight was a visit to the local night market for a cheap noodle dinner. I hadn’t slept at all on the flight so I was in bed by 9pm.

Monday was a bit more of an adventure though, exploring Guiyang on foot for most of the morning. We took in the giant statue of Mao, Renmin Square, a riverside park where there was all sorts of interesting things going on (including al fresco dentistry…), a temple and Jiaxiulou Tower dating from the Ming Dynasty.

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By far my favourite part of the day though, was wandering around a large local market. Well, there is really no need to qualify it as a ‘local’ market, because it’s quite clear that the tourism impact here is quite negligible. (One of my clues for this conclusion was being followed and singled out for a photo with a trendy young Chinese woman.) It was a practical kind of market, specialising in Chinese medicine, flowers and plants, aquarium supplies (the varieties of fish were amazing!) and …pets!!

We opted for a walking route that bypassed the live animals, but because the market is undergoing some transformations, stalls were not always where our guide expected them to be, so we did in fact see quite a few dogs, less cats and one adorable tiny white rabbit in a pink cage. To be perfectly honest I was pleasantly surprised at the conditions. I know the Chinese take great care of their pets, but in a market environment I expected the standard to be a bit on the poor side. I’m happy to be wrong. Apart from buying pets, people were also bringing their dogs to the market to visit the pooch parlour section to get the latest ‘do, Guizhou-style.

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After the market we had a 4-hour bus trip to our next destination, Liuzhi, our base for the first of our festivals with the Longhorn Miao people.

Posted by Andrea R 02:51 Archived in China Tagged market pets guiyang Comments (0)

Tiaohuacha Festival of the Longhorn Miao

A bit of Miao romance

overcast 5 °C
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In the Longga mountains we attended the final day of an annual festival designed for the youngsters to meet potential marriage partners. It’s also about saying goodbye to the long, cold winter.

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The singing and dancing went all through the afternoon, but just as interesting was the crowd-watching opportunities on the hills surrounding the festival ground.

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Apart from my group there were only about half a dozen other white faces in town. We had just as many photos taken as the performers!

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Posted by Andrea R 01:34 Archived in China Comments (0)

Lusheng Festival

Kaili Capers

overcast 10 °C
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Driving across to the east of Guizhou province we attended our first Lusheng Festival. The Lusheng is the musical instrument used by the Miao, made of bamboo and sounding a little bit like panpipes. The festival included three main components; buffalo fighting, dancing and the sideshow activities and food that make any gathering like this into a fun time for the whole family. I didn’t watch the buffalo, preferring to focus on the dancers.

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The dancing is actually a competition between each village. The girls of the village dance in a circle, ordered by height and wearing their traditional costumes. Some of the girls were tiny little toddlers. In the middle of the circle are the lusheng players (usually two of them, from what I saw).

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Posted by Andrea R 15:13 Archived in China Tagged china festival guizhou lusheng Comments (0)

Miao Homestay

Timeout on the mountain

overcast 8 °C
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The next part of the trip was a complete change of pace, as we arrived in Nande village for our Miao homestay. Nande has a long history, but a recent event - the arrival of the Olympic torch - has taken on huge significance, with a section of the tiny museum dedicated to it.

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The village itself was charming, with big (cold!) wooden houses clinging to the hillside.

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The Miao ladies excel at needlework and haggling.

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The highlight for me was a special performance put on for us by the whole village, with young and old giving up their time to dance, sing and play the lusheng for us.

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Posted by Andrea R 00:01 Archived in China Tagged mountains shopping china miao lusheng Comments (0)

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