Guiyang, Danzai, Great Rice Terraces, Rongjiang, Congjiang, Zhaoxing, Liping
16th – 19th January 2018
USD 680 pp
Explore the fascinating minority nationalities of Guizhou through their stunning and diverse textiles. Travel through the steep hand carved rice terraces of the Miao. Learn about indigo production with the Dong – also famed for their spectacular drum towers and wind and rain bridges around which clan life centres. Tin stitch, batik, embroidery, loom weaving and indigo dyeing are a few techniques you may experience on this textile exploratory. Different processes occur in different seasons.
Guizhou’s stunning landscapes and rustic villages are a great backdrop to this trip. We try to include a festival, or a wedding, a bull fight or some event where people get our their finest clothes to celebrate. Often this requires the guide listening in to the bush telegraph along the way. This means your itinerary is flexible as well as unique to you.
There is NO biking on this trip. We know the best places for textiles as we’ve passed through many different villages on our Guizhou Bike trips, and have fantastic guides and operators who know where the best and most authentic textiles villages are.
Bike Aways style
We are all about getting you off the beaten track usually on a bicycle but sometimes not. This trip includes some hiking but no biking as the destinations have been chosen for their textile work, as well as local festivals where the dress of the hill tribes are best showed off – rather than our usual MO of first picking a route first that is great for biking.
ECO is our philosophy: no flags, no mega phones, heritage destinations, overlooked villages where we can spread our business, are some of the criteria in designing our trips. We stay in accommodation with personality – traditional or family run where possible.
TUE Jan 16,
Guiyang to Danzai home of the Miao batik and One Hundred Bird Coat
( 2- 3 hours by car)
Arrive Guiyang Airport where your guide will meet you at the arrivals hall with a sign with your name on it. We travel by private van for the whole tour. Public transport down country can be quite rough, take much longer, and will not be pleasant in this season.
We leave Guiyang on the super highway to get down country as soon as possible where traditional textiles are an everyday part of life. Danzhai is a region well known amongst textile people for the Black Miao batik and one hundred bird batik coats. The coats found at villages around Danzhai are worn at festivals to worship the Miao ancestors. Hundreds of embroidered bird motifs in bright colours and exotic patterns, embody the Miao peoples traditional creation epic. These coats are amongst the most intricate of Guizhou.
In the same region are the White-collar Miao
Numbering ten thousand people scattered throughout remote villages between Sandu and the Danzai rice terraces the White Miao are skilled in both batik and embroidery which are combined in their textiles. The patterns in the batik are also seen on painted pottery from the the ancient Majiayao culture of Gansu in the far north of China, near the beginning of the silk road. These traditional outfits are worn at festivals and shamanistic blessing ceremonies, with singing, music playing and dancing.
Overnight in in Danzai Hotel 3-4 stars.
WED Jan 17
Off the Beaten track Miao Villages and Great Rice Terrace Drive to Rongjiang.
There are many rice terraces in Guizhou and some are quite touristy, others are very newly opened up with roads. A series of rice terraces between Kongming and Rongjiang (that we just call the Great Rice Terraces) have some of the most remote Miao villages, only accessible by road within the last ten years. We have not see other tourists in this area yet. The guide will keep their ears tuned to any interesting events that might be happening along the way, but do be aware that is just that little bit early for festivities which start around Chinese New Year. All the high mountain villages along the way are Miao, and fascinating with their stunning views of hand-worked rice terraces. Its worth stopping for a hike in the fields or just pottering through villages listening for the clacking of looms. This area is also famous for its bull fights where rival-villages pit their prize bulls against each other using giant tug of war style ropes to direct events. Its nothing like the Spanish bull fights.
The water buffalo bulls are worth big money – and occasionally the fights end in blood. They are medieval events and people dress up for them. Again it is only by chance that you come across such events. Parts of this drive are a little rough, but it is not too long. As you get closer to Rongjiang you will begin to see drum towers which signals the land of the Dong.
Overnight Rongjiang Dongxiangmi Hotel
Breakfast Lunch and dinner
THURS Jan 18
Indigo and loom work in Dong Villages famed for their drum towers and bridges along the back roads to Congjiang.
The Dong who are well represented around Rongjiang are known for their architecture – drum towers and wind rain bridges and riverside settings. Miao typically live in the hills, the Dong in the Valleys. The Dong are indigo growers, and weave fine-patterned cloth from homespun cotton which they dye blue, and then pound to achieve the rose-gold sheen. You’ll visit remote villages set amidst stunning rice terraces, exploring the architecture, loom weaving and indigo production techniques.
We overnight in one of the biggest Dong Indigo production centres – ZhaoXing.
This village has recently been converted into a tourist destination with a gate and an entrance fee. This style usually puts us off, but we have been going to Zhaoxing for a long timer (before the touristification) and it is too important to miss. They also have top quality very authentic culture shows where you can see the traditional costumes in context. There are nice restaurants and a few boutique hotels. Its a great place to shop for antique cloth or support more contemporary artists working with Indigo. Enjoy some time to yourself in this easy to navigate village in the afternoon or next morning depending on the time you arrive.
Hotel Indigo Blue or similar (boutique)
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
FRI Jan 19
Hike to Hilltop Dong and Miao Villages
After a leisurely breakfast, we set off on a hike along the the small pathways of the style that that have linked villages together for centuries. Until twenty years ago, Guizhou was a massive network of these small pathways, now mostly grown over since the coming of better roads.
Perched a few hundred metres above Zhaoxing we visit Tang’an which is one of the most charming Dong Villages, unusual in that it is set on top of a hill. Tang’an has an ancient spring which feeds the rice terraces we hike through. Hike back down ( oracle up your driver) to Zhaoxing, lunch, shop, and then head to the airport which is less than 90 minutes away.
All meals from Tuesday night arrival to Friday morning (Tuesday lunch and Friday lunch are not included), twin- share accommodation, all transport on tour from Guiyang to Liping, guide services.
China Visa, personal items, flights, trains, tips, drinks, dishes not ordered by the guide. .
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Mr Bruce Ernest Foreman
Commonwealth Bank Australia
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