Katherine’s Late Summer Tour to Guizhou Ethnic Villages

At the end of August, I was honored to have a charming tour to Congjiang County of Guizhou Province with my colleagues. This Guizhou Tour really opened my eyes and let me have a new understanding of what an authentic village tour in China is really about.

Guizhou

For a feast for the eyes on Guizhou tour, a trip to Jiabang Rice Terraces is necessary. Located 80 km away from Congjiang, Jiabang Rice Terraces are among the most beautiful rice fields of Guizhou and even in China. The large size of terraces makes Jiabang so beautiful, and the whole rice fields reflect the amazing views when they are irrigated. The water flowing down to irrigate the fields looks crystal clear. The air is so clean. The villages and the waving smoke from their kitchen chimneys, the locals in Yao minority costumes… All of these reflect the harmonious beauty of human and nature.

Guizhou

Guizhou

Our first stop was Jiashui Miao Village. It attracted me immediately when I set foot on this land. All of the stockade village houses remain their ancient simplicity. The forests here are also well protected, which you may inadvertently find some precious tree species. Besides, the villagers are so friendly that made us feel like coming home.

Guizhou

Along the road from Congjiang County to Jiashui Miao Village, spectacular terraced fields can be seen here and there. In late summer and early fall, the terraces gradually change from green to yellow. Against the blue sky, while breeze passing by, the rice on the terraces begin dancing in the wind. Several wooden houses are dotted sporadically over the terraces. What a picturesque old-world village! It is definitely a paradise for photography lovers.

Guizhou

Guizhou

After 1 day break, we drove along the mountain road, and then arrived at Zhanli Dong Village – our second stop. Unfortunately, as soon as we got there, it began to rain cats and dogs. We took shelter on a bridge for a while, and found that the village in the rain is still so charming: the elders chitchatted on the bridge; a flock of sheep trotted together in the rain; the fish in the river frolicked and spitted several bubbles; small ducks swimming in the water merrily…

Guizhou

Guizhou

About half an hour later, the rain finally stopped, we started to take a leisure walk in Zhanli Dong Village. The effective inheritance education of the birth consciousness in ZhanLi Dong Village is a quite typical and successful instance. They have excellent control over reproduction. Every family here has only a son and a daughter. What an amazing village!

Guizhou

Unlike the former minority villages, Zhanli Dong Village is well planned, and everywhere is clean and neat. Along the road, we happened to meet the locals holding the Kam Grand Choirs in a drum-tower. Kam Grand Choirs is a non-accompany multi-sound chorus folk art. Dong villagers treat song as treasure, knowledge and culture. And they believe that who knows the more songs, and then who is the most knowledgeable person. The Kam Grand Choirs has been well known both at home and abroad since reform and opening-up in China. So it becomes very useful to cultivate the national spirit and develop the soft power of Culture.

Guizhou

Guizhou

Just as we were about to leave, we met a group of villagers who were performing the Lusheng, which sounded very nice. Ethnic minorities always have so many colorful activities.

Guizhou

The next morning, we started our journey in Basha Miao Village. The air is so fresh; the village is lying quietly, like a green leaf in the deep mountains. All here is so peaceful and gentle. But you may be surprised to know that it is the China’s last gunner tribe. Basha people are very brave and versatile. They can be deemed the “living fossil” of traditional culture of Miao since they still remain the production and life style over 2,000 years ago. Their rarely-known culture of tree burial and worship are much unique and mysterious.

Guizhou

What’s more, there is one rare convention and skill which you may consider unbelievable – sickle-haircut. If you are interested and have the guts, try it.

Guizhou

There’re other series of traditional performance events being held every day, such as welcoming guest by firing the gun, Lusheng dance, horse fighting competition and so on. But we were not lucky enough to watch all of them because of the heavy rain.

Guizhou

Here comes my favorite village – Gaohua Yao Village, which is built on the top of a high mountain, folded in the mist in every morning, like a fairyland. The fresh air rise from the thick forest and streams is cool and humid. The rice terraces down hills are partly hidden and partly visible in the mist. For the time being, I was content to gaze at the distant mountain emerge from the clouds. As I was watching they were glowed pink in the setting sun before turning silver in the moonlight. Towards evening, I saw the smoke rising from original wooden houses’ cook chimneys. What a beautiful view!

Guizhou

The best part was taking a medicated bath before went to bed. Nothing is more comfortable than a Chinese herbal bath. Just relaxed, and let the spirit of nervous get slow better rest mode, wash away the dust, and banish evil. If you take the medicated bath all year round, you will be very healthy.

Guizhou

According to the elder in the village, there still exist many old wooden houses, and some of them even have reached the age of 3 or 4 hundred years old. The elders are not only very good at telling folk stories, but also have fantastic traditional clothing technology includes knitting, dyeing, broidery, tapestry, etc.

Guizhou

The landlord of the hostel is very kind and friendly. The day we left, this lovely family made delicious noodles as breakfast for us, and then waving goodbye on the windowsill reluctantly. What a sweet moment!

In the middle of that day, we continued driving to our next stop – Dragon Lady Trench Tourism Village. It is a perfect place for hiking. The thick forest, the peace and quiet atmosphere of the county, huge stones, clean and cool lakes and splendid waterfalls… All of these made us linger. Terraced fields are scattered all over the rolling mountains, which are quiet spectacular.

Guizhou

Guizhou

After enjoying the feast of beauty, we winded round the base of the lofty Yuanbao Mountain, and headed to our last destination – Xiaosang Village. Along the road, we found many Lusheng pillars standing in the fields. When we arrived at the Xiaosang Village Museum of Ethnography, the gate was closed, but we saw a huge and exquisite Lusheng Pillar with dragon totem standing in front of the closed door. It is carved with animals and fairy tales, reflecting the good vision of the villagers. The terraced fields here are as spectacular as we’ve seen before, but most of the old houses here have been destroyed and replaced by concrete houses, which was a huge pity.

Guizhou

Guizhou

Guizhou

So, if you want to get to know the real Chinese minority villages, you’d best hurry up and take the chance to book a China village tour with us, before the original Chinese countryside disappeared!

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Easy Tour China 2016 Annual Meeting – An Exploration in Zhaoxing

The team of ETC held this year’s annual meeting in Zhaoxing, Qiandongnan Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture, SW China’s Guizhou Province during January 13-15, with a special purpose of exploring the Dong villages of Zhaoxing, therefore crafting better and more specific Guizhou tour programs for our clients.

Guizhou tours to Zhaoxing

Transportation: China’s national HSR system has connected Guangxi and Guizhou by opening the Guangzhou Guiyang railway. It takes only 50 minutes for us to travel from Guilin to Zhaoxing (get on the train at Guilin Xi Train Station and get off at Congjiang Station).

Accommodation in Zhaoxing: Indigo Lodge

Zhaoxing Village: In the south of Liping country, Zhaoxing Dong Village is one of the biggest Dong villages in China where about 1,200 households and 6000 Dong people live in a traditional simple life. We arrived at night and were impressed by the stunning night view of the village when the wooden structures, towers, pavilions and bridges were lighted up.

Zhaoxing tours 

The next day is to explore in Zhaoxing Village, as well as the nearby Tang’an Village and Jilun Village. All of them have the well-kept ancient wooden drum towers, flower bridges, theatrical stages and arrays of Diaojiaolou, serene countryside… which are quite remarkable and making the places great for minority culture discovery and experiencing the laid-back rural lifestyle and getting away from the city chaos.

 

So if you would like to take an adventure to Guizhou and Zhaoxing, here we have crafted the wonderful trips connecting Zhaoxing and other minority destinations in China with unique itineraries and programs.

7-day Guizhou Highlight Tour including Zhaoxing 

11-day Mountain Tribe Adventure 

13-day Gateway to China Minorities

A Spring Outing to Yangshuo and Hike to the Countryside

People never get tired of Yangshuo, generally, and we’re no exception. This place offers many cool and unique ways to amuse the friends and family, such as biking into the rural landscape, bamboo-rafting on the rivers for the awesome Karst mountains, rock-climbing on the scaring vertical peaks, and enjoying the peaceful and relaxing hours at a secret, quaint hotel. Or, do what ETC team was doing – hiking to the countryside of Yangshuo.

Tour to Yangshuo China

Yangshuo, with its surrounding pristine villages and old towns like Xingping and Fuli, offer numerous hiking trails to meet all difficulties. This time, we chose the trail from Jiuxian Village to the Yulong Bridge in Baisha Town, an easy and scenic route. We walked along the Yulong River, through the villages, and passed by paddy fields, vegetable fields and fruit gardens en route. On the photos, you can see that the country roads are rough and rugged, and sometimes difficult to figure out. However, we were rewarded with picturesque landscape and a great hiking experience.

Yangshuo hiking tours Yangshuo Hiking

The Yulong Bridge

Trip to Yangshuo

Yangshuo hiking adventure

Here we also would like to recommend two hotels, the Secret Garden Boutique Hotel and Jade Mountain Hotel.

The Secret Garden hides itself between towering Karst peaks & lush rice paddies in Jiuxian Village of Yangshuo. The hotel is converted from a group of Qing Dynasty dwelling houses, but restored and provides modern comforts. It is a wonderful place for visitors who desire serenity and a chance to experience the gentle rhythm of Chinese rural life.

Yangshuo hotels booking

Jade Mountain Hotel is a budget hotel and enjoys an ideal location by standing at the opposite of Yulong River. Therefore, you can have a relaxing walk along the river or enjoy doing the morning exercise like running and Tai Chi.

In this season of spring, the canola‬ flowers are in full blossom. Isn’t it beautiful?!

Yangshuo countryside hiking

Alice’s Fantastic Journey to Shangri-La (Early November, 2015)

My Yunnan journey started at Kunming, with two stopovers at Dali and Lijiang, continued through theTiger Leaping Gorge, and finally reached the dreamland of Shangri-La.

There are regular buses (coaches) from Lijiang to Shangri-La departing every half an hour. The journey takes 4 ~ 5 hours, and is scenic and dramatic with gorges, rivers, mountains, waterfalls, terraced fields…

We were told to drink more water and exercise less in case of discomfort or even altitude sickness, as Shangri-La is 3200~3500m above sea level.

Half of the Dukezong Old Town was burned and destroyed in Jan 2014, and is still under reconstruction and expected to be completed by 2017. Walk through the narrow, intricate ancient streets to get lost in the track of time. The Moonlight Square is the way to the Guishan Park and the Giant Buddhist Temple where world’s largest prayer wheel is located. Standing beside the prayer wheel, I had the great panorama view of Shangri-La Town that is aloof from the outside world and embraced by the lofty mountains.

 

Shangri-La in early November doesn’t see many snowy days, so I changed the itinerary of taking the cable car up to the Shika Snow Mountain to visiting the Potatso National Park (but you’re still encouraged to ascend Shika Snow Mountain to overlook the sacred Meri Snow Mountain, Gaoligong Mountain, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and the three sacred mountains in Daocheng, and also have a bird’s view of Napa Lake wetlands).

I’ve heard that Potatso National Park has its most beautiful time in spring and summer when the small wild animals make the lush forests alive and the wetlands and pasture are besprinkled with a variety of colorful flowers. However, Potatso in winter totally impressed me too and brought me a time of peace and tranquility, with its purified blue sky and liquid water in Shudu Lake and Bita Lake.

 

The little naughty squirrels were running everywhere in the forests and people can feed them with peanuts and sunflower seeds. Potatso National Park is an interesting place and worths at least half a day visiting by hiking and boating.

I felt that it was my great honor to visit the Songzanlin Lamasery – the largest Tibetan Buddhist temple complex in Yunnan Province, and reputed as the Lesser Potala Palace of Tibet. Built in 1679 by the Fifth Dalai Lama, the lamasery houses a wealth of stunning Buddhist art treasures. I was not a Buddhist, but still I visited it with reverence and pious heart.

Easy Tour China’s Raft Race: Who Are Going to Win?

We fled to Yangshuo last Tuesday, again!

The place is renowned for the amazing natural scenery and Laid-back countryside lifestyle, as well as being suitable for various types of outdoor sports, such as hiking, biking, rock climbing, Tai Chi practicing, bamboo-rafting, and also the raft race.

Guilin Yangshuo Yulong River trips

This time in Yangshuo, the active and energetic staff of Easy Tour China was allocated randomly into three groups and would complete in the raft race on Yulong River – it was for fun and also the team building by performing as one great team. None of us wanted to lose.

Outdoor activities in Yangshuo China available Outdoor sport in Yangshuo

Upon arrival, we cooled off with the unexpected shower, and began the exciting raft race! Team I was led by Wei and Ricky, Team II by Thomas and Zhao, while Team III by Charlie and Kyle.

What to do in Yangshuo The Yulong River Bamboo rafting race

First of all, we should build the raft according to our own ideas with some tires and plastic pipes. When all the three teams had finished, we strove to drive the raft for 30km across Yulong River and captured a flag, then drove back. It was also our own choice to decide how to push the raft forward, by swimming or paddling by hands. Of course the first team to return to the start line was the final winner.

The water-friendly activities on Yulong River Yangshuo

The raft race on Yulong River Yangshuo

Can you guess who the winner was? It was Team II with team members including Silvia, Peicy, Lydia and Yuri. They were just so fast. And the second and third place went to Team III and Team I separately. Sorry to Wei and Ricky 😛

China Yangshuo discovery by outdoor sports

unique Yangshuo Yulong River experience

Easy Tour China Team’s 2-day Trip in Xingping & Yangshuo 2014

Trip in Xingping Yangshuo 2014

(Have a group photo in Beautiful Xingping town)

After months of hard working in the office, the whole team of Easy Tour China were rewarded with a delightful trip to Xingping, Yangshuo on August 22-23. During these two days, we had the peaceful and relaxing hours with our lovely colleagues on the most beautiful island of Li River while at the same time enjoying various fun activities to energize the body and mind.

 Xingping Old Town

(The old streets and houses in Xingping town)

Approximately 90km away from downtown Guilin, the 1300-year-old Xingping town is home to the epitome of sceneries along the Li River, with limestone Karst mountains and cliffs, still waters, and old villages on the lively countryside with backroads and paths. Xingping is therefore ideal for sightseeing, hiking, biking, camping and bamboo-rafting. We stayed overnight in the riverside guesthouse “Our Inn” on a tranquil island of Li River (can be accessed by ferryboat). Here, we had exciting eating watermelon contest, which offered so much joy and attracted everyone of us to participate in. When night fell, The dazzling stars filling the sky were all our eyes, and totally enchanted us all.

Eating Watermelon in Yangshuo

(The watermelon is ready! )

The next morning, we headed for another destination – the world-famous Yangshuo (25 km away). It is, despite the huge popularity of a visit, one of the most worthwhile places China has to offer. It would be so delightful to drench ourselves completely to the natural beauty of Yangshuo, but we had to finish a task first, the orienteering. This fashionable outdoor sport tested both our physical ability and intelligence.

Yangshuo Local Food

(Yummy, yummy)

Yangshuo Xingping Trip

(The stunning scenery along Li River)

Yangshuo Vacation

(Feel great among the limestone Karst mountains)

Yangshuo Outdoor Activities

(Participate in the orienteering in Yangshuo)

Easy Tour China Team Bike to Yao Mountain

There’s no better way to experience the sheer splendor of Guilin’s Karst landscape than by biking. Therefore, some of ETC team make a plan to cycle around with the purpose of finding out the great cycling routes in Guilin for our clients and friends, while relaxing and enjoying ourselves at the same time. Last Thursday, we had our first biking tour to Yao Mountain, approximately 10 km northeast of downtown Guilin.

Biking in Guilin

909m above sea level, Yao Mountain is the highest mountain in the city, and a should-not-missed destination for all cyclists in Guilin. Before arriving at the foot the Yao Mountain, we have to bike on a bumpy and rugged road with a continuous line of cars, which was surely not a pleasure at all. But it was worth it, – we were awarded with a great view of the endless undulating mountains of Karst geography, which has just been added to the UNESCO World Heritage list recently.

Yao Mountain is different from most of the other stone hills in Guilin, and covered with fertile soil and luxuriant vegetation. With the well-constructed road, it is an ideal place for moderate hiking and cycling (there are also cars running up and down). However, the 8.5 km winding road’s several hairpin turns and rather large tilt brought a real challenge for we first-timers.

Sunset of Yao Mountain

Finally we reached the halfway up the mountain at around 19:00 pm, and enjoyed the beautiful sunset. But it was too late to keep climbing. So we decided to turn back. We hope that next time we can reach the top.

Here we would like to share with our biking tips of descending Yao Mountain. So that you can enjoy the thrill downhill under safety.

1. Get low on the bike to get a low centre of gravity, so that you can be better stabilized.

2. Most of the time, use more rear braking. And it’s good to brake earlier into corners, and less during the turn as the bike goes through leaning angles.

3. Always be concentrated to the hairpin turns, road signs and cars in front.

4. Control the speed, especially when the night falls (we descend at night this time)