Jun and I knew we wanted to travel to celebrate his birthday. We initially thought about going to Qingdao, but the flights and hotels there were expensive. We next thought about Chongqing, but it was extremely hot there. Then our friend suggested Guizhou. We thought it was a splendid idea. The weather was less hot and humid than in Shenzhen; it also was forecasted to be sunny during the five days we would be there.
After booking everything we were ready to celebrate Jun’s birthday in Guizhou!
We flew to Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou the day before Jun’s birthday. Everything went smoothly. When we arrived, we took a COVID-19 test, took a taxi to the Guiyang Pullman Hotel, and settled in for the night in anticipation of our first day of exploring.
After breakfast on our first full day, we took a car to the village of Qingyan. Located in the southern portion of Guiyang, it began its existence as a military outpost during the early Ming Dynasty. It grew into a village and was later incorporated into larger municipalities.
The village itself is quaint. Surrounded by mountains, the village is well preserved. Jun and I enjoyed walking around the place. We especially enjoyed traversing the old city wall.
During our visit, Jun received a call from the hotel. The concierge informed him that because it was his birthday, the guest service team was going to provide him with a cake. We were pleasantly surprised at their initiative.
After the call, we continued to explore the village. After taking a break to enjoy some locally made drinks and snacks, we ended our trip here to head to a nature park closer to the city center.
Aha Lake National Wetland Park was a wonderful place to spend the late afternoon. The cool breeze from the lake and river invigorated us as we walked along the park paths from the northern entrance to the lake. The main area of the park is situated within a gorge with several landscaped sections for people to enjoy. Jun and I found it serene and rejuvenating after the busier Qingyan.
We next went into the city’s main area from the park to visit Jiaxiu Pavilion along the Nanming River. The pavilion is considered the city’s emblem. It originated during the Ming Dynasty. It’s a popular place for tourists and photographers.
By then it was early evening. Jun and I were ready for dinner. We decided to try Laokaili, a local restaurant known for its fish hot pot. The meal was delicious, but we ended up eating a bit too much. We decided to walk back to the hotel to get some exercise and help digest what we had eaten.
When we got back to the hotel, we finished celebrating Jun’s birthday with the cake the hotel provided. It was a wonderful way to end the day.
Early the next day, Jun and I left Guiyang for the next part of our trip. Jun had decided to hire a car so we could travel a bit around Guizhou and explore both the natural and cultural sides of the province. Our first stop would be the Xiaoqikong Scenic Area, which is a part of the South China Karst UNESCO World Heritage Site, located in Libo County.
Our driver was great and soon got us to the gates of the scenic area. From there we took a bus to the Kew Green Hotel located inside the park. Once we had settled in at the hotel, we went out in the early afternoon to explore the Xiaoqikong section of the park. We decided to take the buses to the park’s west entrance and hike back to the hotel. We seemed to be the only ones who decided to do that since everyone else took the busses from scenic spot to scenic spot.
I’m glad we decided to hike through the park. It was relaxing and we got to see so much more of the park. Going this way offered us a nice respite from the tourists when we did get to major tourist spots—the first of which we encountered at Wolong Pond. The area was neat as the waters were turquoise when we visited there. It was quite picturesque.
From there we continued our hike through the different fields and valleys in the park. After a while, we saw a fork in the road and decided to head towards Mandarin Duck Lake and Tianzhong Cave. When we got to the lake, Jun and I found it was a bit boring since all we could do was pay for a paddle boat to go around the small lake. We decided to forgo spending too much time there and walked up towards the cave instead.
Tianzhong Cave was great! We certainly enjoyed that it was cool inside. We found it fascinating to see the different formations inside. The entire area was also lighted in different hues of color that created a whimsical atmosphere.
From the cave, we next walked to Laguan Waterfall, which is an area the busses skip over. As a result, Jun and I nearly had the area to ourselves. We enjoyed walking and seeing the waterfall and walking along the lake towards Cuigu Waterfall. This area, however, had a lot more tourists. It, though, was nice seeing the children playing in the water.
From there we continued our hike through the water forest. This part of the park was interesting as several rapid creeks and springs flowed through the forest. At times you had to walk over boulders in the water to get through it. Being a bit clumsy I was nervous about slipping on the rocks, but fortunately, Jun and I made it through all right.
Our hike continued past several smaller waterfalls until we got to the end where the bridge with seven little arches is located. The scenic area’s name originates from this bridge. Here, there were a lot of people. Jun and I found it interesting trying to take nice pictures of the bridge. We ended up doing okay in this regard.
By this time, it was early evening. Jun and I were ready to head back to the hotel and clean up before dinner. Since it was already late, we decided to eat at the hotel. The food there was great! Our meal capped off a wonderful day. After dinner, we went back to our room to call it a night.
Early the next morning we went up to Daqikong to visit the northern section of the park. This part was much smaller but equally beautiful.
We first took a small boat down the river. When we got to the dock, we were amazed at how tall the cliff faces were on both sides of the gorge. From the dock, we went along a pathway built on the side of the cliff towards a natural arch that was quite massive. When we got there, we took some pictures before going through the arch towards the end of the trail. A cave is the endpoint of the trail, but it was closed to visitors due to recent flooding.
From there we then went back the way we came and took a longer trail out of Daqikong instead of going back by boat. When we got to the bus station at the end of the trail, we discovered that the bus we wanted didn’t stop there. Jun and I decided it was just easier to walk back to the hotel. The bus attendant was surprised and insisted she would help us figure a way back without the need to walk the 2 kilometers back. Jun and I said it was fine; we thanked her and walked back to the hotel.
Once we got to the hotel, we gathered our things, checked out, and went back to the front entrance of the park to meet our driver.
From there we drove towards Zhaoxing Dong Village. The Dong people are one of the many ethnic groups that live in Guizhou. Zhaoxing is one of the larger Dong villages. Dong people are known for their unique architecture, especially their drum towers and flower bridges.
When we arrived, we first went to get a COVID-19 test and then checked in at the hotel. Afterward, we went to grab some lunch at a local noodle stall. Then we began to explore the village. The wooden structures were a nice change from all the concrete of the larger Chinese cities.
In the late afternoon, we caught a bus up towards Tangan Dong Village up in the mountains. From there Jun and I hiked down back to Zhaoxing through the rice terraces. We both enjoyed this hike as it was simply gorgeous. The late afternoon and then early evening sun created a fantastical environment for the hike. This hike was the highlight of the trip for me.
When we got back to Zhaoxing we went straight to a wonderful restaurant for dinner. We got there at a good time since we snagged a corner table next to the windows on the second floor overlooking the outside area. The food was amazing, and we left happy.
Jun and I walked back to the hotel and enjoyed the nighttime view of the village. When we got back to our room, we relaxed a bit before heading to bed. We had quite a wonderful day!
The next morning Jun and I went and had breakfast at a Liaopangzi. They served a nice selection of noodles and dumplings for breakfast that Jun and I found delicious. They also had sweet dumplings, which we both enjoyed.
After breakfast, Jun and I went for a walk around the village one last time. We also took another COVID-19 test since it was easy to do in the village without having to wait in long lines. Afterward, we went back to the hotel to pack and head back to the village entrance to meet our driver.
From Zhaoxing we drove northwesterly towards Xijiang Qianhu Miao Village. This village is one of the largest villages of the Miao ethnic group. It’s also a major tourist attraction. There were a lot of people there compared to the other places we had visited, but it wasn’t too bad. Once we had gotten to the hotel, Jun and I were impressed with the size of the village. Our room had a balcony, and we could look across most of the village.
After we had settled in, we went around to explore the village. As we did, we noticed that the area around the river was where most people congregated. But in the upper area of the village on the northern side, there were more locals than tourists. Sufficed to say Jun and I enjoyed being in the upper areas. As we walked, we also bought some snacks.
By the late afternoon, Jun and I found ourselves in the rice fields to the east of the village. As we walked around, we realized that we were hungry and went in search of a place to eat.
Jun found one in the upper areas, and we enjoyed a nice meal. The food was a bit salty for us. Eaten with the rice, though, and it ended up okay.
After dinner, Jun and I went for a walk around the village to enjoy the buildings and other structures lit up. When it got late, we went back to our room to end the day.
The next morning Jun and I continued to explore the village. The morning light offered opportunities to view Xijiang Qianhu Miao Village which differed from the afternoon light. As we walked around the village, we came across some women embroidering. It was nice to see that aspect of the villagers’ cultural heritage. Jun and I ended up buying an embroidered piece.
From there we went closer to the river to try some local tea at a tea shop. We tried a variety of green and black tea. It was nice a relaxing to sample the different teas they had to offer. We bought some of the teas before we left for lunch.
Lunch was a nice affair at one of the local restaurants. The food was great, and it was completely filling.
After lunch, we went back to the hotel to collect our bags and checked out. We walked back up to the bus station and took it to the entrance. After we had met up with the driver, we drove towards our last stop of the trip.
Jun and I had a few hours before our flight home and decided that along the way we would stop at Xiasi Ancient Town, which historically was an important inner trading port in Guizhou. The town is well preserved and was fascinating to visit. When we went, we were each given free noodles to take home. That was a bit of a strange souvenir, but it’s still a nice gift.
After walking around for a bit, Jun and I stopped to have some of the local blueberry jellied dessert. It was nice and cool; it was such wonderful treat to have before we left.
Soon though we were driving back to Guiyang to get to the airport. As we approached the airport, it started to rain. After checking in and going through security, we had a bit to eat. The rain stopped about an hour before our flight. Soon after Jun and I boarded and headed back home.
While it was a bit of an impromptu trip, Jun and I enjoyed it greatly. The parts of Guizhou we saw were amazing. We were lucky in having had great weather and being able to explore several fascinating cultural and natural sites. Overall, we found the trip a success.