What is the first image that forms in your mind when I mention about China? Do you think of Beijing, the bustling city that holds all the gems of China – ranging from the Peking roasted duck, to the historical landmarks such as the Great Wall? Do you think about Shanghai, China’s mark of a technologically-advanced nation? Last November, I had the opportunity to tour five cities in China among which included Beijing and Shanghai. However, I felt that the lesser-known cities also make up an essential part of the country. This city it is not as bustling as Beijing or Shanghai
The essential factor that makes Guizhou stand out among the other cities is the people, as well as the culture and heritage that they have kept alive for so many years. Guizhou is home to one of the 56 minority ethnic groups in China – the Miaos. Once you take the first step into the Miao Village, you will not be able to take your eyes off the colourful skirts the locals wear as well as the crisp tinkling sounds produced by their silver accessories. The intriguing culture of the Miaos do not end there – their singing and dancing performance was the breathtaking highlight of our visit to the village. My favourite part of the performance was watching the older generation of the Miao clan sing a folk tale in their language. Their language is, unfortunately, currently vulnerable to extinction as there is no written record of it. The people can only depend on these folk tales to pass it on. While I could not understand the language, I could feel the meaning in their song as their voices melded together and soared through the silence of the beautiful landscape that surrounded us. It was definitely a one-of-a-kind surreal experience and exposure to the people’s way of life – after all, these sights and sounds are things we cannot watch through YouTube, and even if we could, immersing ourselves in this cultural haven would still give us a different and richer understanding of the place.
Apart from unique cultural sights and people of different backgrounds, the best places to visit should have good food to satisfy our ever-hungry stomachs! Guizhou’s food is known for being sour and spicy, but there are sweeter ingredients incorporated in their food too. This ranges from the freshest pumpkin to the sweetest potatoes. Of course, it also does not exclude the bitter yet sweet rice wine, which made our taste buds tingle the first time we tried it. The ten days we spent there was not long enough for us to try all the delicious cultural delicacies but if you ever have an opportunity to visit, I would strongly encourage you to go for, perhaps, a longer period of time and take your time to savour all the good food Guizhou has to offer you.
In a nutshell, if you are having a headache considering where you can go for your next holiday, why not book a plane ticket and head for Guizhou? I assure you that a trip there will take you to a different world that you might never have known existed, and truly see a part of the various vibrant colours that make up China. It would certainly be a place worthy of your money and it will be an eye-opening venture into the country as it was for me.
Renee Ong (4 Unity)