<A> The Wonders of Guizhou

Written by Jul 14, 2006 08:07
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Guizhou is a place of immense diversity and beautiful scenery. This impressive province is home to some of the most amazing waterfalls in the county, and also home to China's biggest waterfall, Huangguoshu. Gargantuan intimating caves, like mysterious black eyes, sit high in mountains, peering over valleys. Zhijin Cave, the largest in China, is home to the biggest stalagmite in the world. The markets that fill towns are dotted with brightly dressed minorities. They live in the mountains and roam the lonely roads. The mix of beautiful untouched landscape, amazing flavorsome food, and traditional minority and local people, make Guizhou a place no adventurer should miss!

Huangguoshu Waterfall

The roar of Yellow Fruit Tree Waterfall can be heard from miles away. Heavy thunderstorms in the rainy season drive chocolate brown water smashing down into a roiling Rhinoceros Pool. Rich rainbows appear and evaporate as thick mist crawls up towards a small crumbling church.
Thousands of Chinese tourists with colorful raincoats crowd the paved paths. Tour groups suck you up and slowly herd you along the well-beaten road. Slowly you ascend to the small cave that leads behind the falls. It is crowded with tourists taking photographs dressed in minority clothing. The thunder of the water echoes in hills and valleys, but it is no competition for the screams of the excited tourists. The wall of water that swiftly shoots across open spaces in the cave is pearl white. The sun struggles to shine through the vicious water and the dimly lit cave will drench all who enter. After passing through the cave it is a short walk to the outdoor escalator that swiftly brings you back to the entrance.

Zhijin Cave

The road to Zhijin is long and laborious. Bruised and broken buses crawl along the mountain paths making any journey arduous. The ugly town welcomes you with stares and smiles. Locals line the streets shaving beards and shining shoes. Horses trot from farms to markets delivering ripe peaches, grapes, bananas and fruits never seen in the West.
On route to the cave, lumpy hills dotted with protruding rocks resemble Roman palaces. Unfathomable dark gorges gouge deep into the ground. Caves with gloomy entrances glare at passers by.
The entrance to the Zhijin cave is dolled up with fancy buildings and well-stocked gardens like most famous attractions in China.
After going through a small ticket booth, a Chinese guide leads you down slippery stairs into a dark abyss. When the lights come on, the cave comes to life. Two massive, naturally formed rocks resembling lions guard the slimy path that leads deeper into the cavern. The cave is broken up into 5 sections. The first section is armed with sharp stalagmites and stalactites growing from the ground and falling from the ceiling. Thousands of years have caused some to join in the middle. Colorful lights illuminate the mammoth-like structures. Some sections of the cave are over 200 meters high and the biggest section is over 50000 square meters! Colorful crystals, strange shaped stones, and formations from fantasies that are forever changing. After hours in the cave emerging back into the sunlight is painful. In the desolate mountains outside the exit, a small tramcar awaits your return.

Ethnic Minorities

The minorities at markets and along lonely roads are not easily missed. Their dark brown faces stand out against the whiter Han Chinese. They have their own language, culture, and traditions. Their glossy eyes and strong faces show the hardships and harmonies of their lives. At the waterfall, the cave, and on certain holidays, all tourists have a chance to get a glimpse of their traditional ways. At Haunguoshu, Miao Zu teenage girls and boys dance to the sound of ancient music. They give offerings and dance on and in between planks of wood. Their bright smiles warm the heart and although their wages are low they still dance brightly in high spirits. The minority dance of Zhijin is incredible. Just outside the exit of the cave a small theatre with speakers and dancers awaits tourists. Muscular minority Wa Zu men, with skin as dark as Indonesians, dance aggressively with sharp spears. Their ferocious faces intimidate spectators as they mock a hunt. Their raging eyes threaten to kill and their barbarous actions can frighten even the bravest warriors. As the men make their exit beautiful women replace them. Dressed in long red skirts and colorful short shirts their dance is also powerful. As the music pounds, they whip there long hair towards the sky. The passion and grace in their movements show years of training. Their stunning black eyes seem to look right into your soul. At the end of the dance they encourage all the spectators to join in. In the middle of nowhere you find yourself united with people so different from yourself. Peace stretches to far places.

Guizhou is slowly opening up to Chinese and foreigners alike. From waterfalls to caves and markets to shopping malls, this fantastic province has something for everyone. Some things are like they were fifty years ago. Roads are still in bad shape, which means secrets are still hidden. Minorities still live in old villages, which means traditional life is still preserved. The people of Guizhou are still friendly, and I don't think that will ever change.
"Doing things the old way, is sometimes the best way."

Kyle Acierno

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