05/17/13

Getting Lost at Leigong Mountain and Being Saved by a Local

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We woke up at Leishan Town before noon on Thursday. We have arrived there on a bus from Xijiang the day before and didn’t want to spend too much time in a town with nothing to do. I have found out online that there is a Leigong Mountain are nearby and even though it was raining a bit, we decided to go.

We went to buy bus tickets first and were planning to eat breakfast while waiting for the bus. But the bus was leaving in 15 minutes! We hurriedly bought some snacks for the journey and though there must be some place to eat near the Leigong Mountain.

Bus ride took less than one hour and had some amazing scenery. Unfortunately the bus and cigarette smoking locals made the trip a bit smelly. And don’t think about reading a book while on the bus, those mountain roads are a sure way to feel sick in the stomach!

Then we arrived to a crossroad in the middle of nowhere with only a small hut by the road. Bus driver told us to get off the bus as it was our stop. There we were with our backpacks on a rainy mountain with nothing to eat. We bought our tickets and started walking towards the top. After one hour or so we had to admit, that climbing a mountain with empty stomach isn’t a good idea.

We get back to where we started and asked the men in the hut for directions to any place with food. They told as a one kilometer short cut to a restaurant. We started climbing down those wet and super slippery rock stairs. We even found the restaurant, but as it’s not a tourist season over there, they didn’t make any food!

It started to feel a bit terrifying. The Leigong Mountain are is huge, it could be 10 kilometres to a nearest village! We had no choice then to keep on walking the road. Besides us, there were no tourist on the area, at least we saw no one.

While walking on a small countryside road we saw a minivan coming behind us and like a miracle it stopped! For a 30RMB he offered us to get on the vehicle and he would drive us to a restaurant. It took at least 20 minutes car drive the get there, we would have never made it by foot!

We were the only customers, but they still made us really delicious hot pot, spicy beef and vegetables. After hiking with an empty stomach for five hours it felt like the best meal I’ve ever had!

With our stomaches full we started to search for a place to sleep. Restaurant owner told us to walk 20 minutes to a certain direction to find a hostel. It didn’t look like that short of a trip on the map, but as two separate piece of advice told the same, we decided to hit the road again.

We walked at least half an hour and again got a drive from a local for 15 minutes until we reached the village that was supposed to have a hostel. Well, it actually did have one, but the owner was away playing mahjong and wouldn’t be back until 12pm or so. At this point it was 6pm already and getting dark.

There was no bus out of there, no car to take as and it certainly was way too far to walk. It was still raining and we were sitting on a bench under a roof pondering over what the hell we should do.

And then came our saving angle! Or saving warrior you could say too. He was driving on his scooter to get back to Leishan where he lived and agreed to take us too! So three on a scooter we started getting down the mountain with rain still pouring over us.

He was a local and thus belonged to the Miao minority living in the area. He didn’t only save us from the mountain, but also took us to his home! His wife, parents and two kids welcomed us warmly. Gave us warm water to wash our feet, towels to wipe our faces and let us sit near the fire to warm up. Then we have a real family dinner Miao style, with an exception to not having as much chili as they like themselves. Their dog kept us company too until it was getting over 9pm and we decided to head back to the hotel we had stayed the night before too.

We exchanged numbers with our saviour, a guy just a year older than us. Later on he send messages and made sure we had found the hotel and later that we were safely back to Guangzhou. We let him know that if he ever comes to Guangzhou he would surely have a room and a meal waiting for him!

Our little adventure was a success in the end. We saw amazing scenery, found a silent place in China and had a dinner in a local home. What else could we have asked for?

Next post in the series of Guizhou travels is about Langde Miao Village, stay tuned! Remember to check the earlier post about Xijiang too!

05/6/13

Xijiang Miao Village

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Xijiang Miao Village is the biggest Miao village in China, it is also the most touristy of them all. You can get to Xijiang by bus from Kaili, the ride will take about one hour (depends on the traffic) and with 18RMB you will travel in a comfortable double-decker bus.

The first thing you will see in Xijiang is the huge parking lot, you will soon realize that you are visiting a popular tourist destination. Tickets are 100RMB, but with a student card (at least with a Chinese student card) you can buy a half price ticket.

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From the main gate you can take a bus to the village or walk about 20 minutes.

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There are some nice views along the road so I recommend walking if it’s a good weather.

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The first thing we did when reaching the village was to find accommodation for the night. We didn’t want to rush, but instead relax and enjoy our holiday, even though we had to share the “thousand household village” with uncountable number of Chinese tourists.

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Because of the Labour’s Day prices were up and we ended paying over 300RMB for our room for the night. Rooms don’t have private bathrooms, but there are two toilets with shower on every floor. I’m sure many of you agree the room looks super nice on the photo, but I have to warn you the bed is hard as wood. There is only thick blanket on the wooden bed.

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Most tourist will stay on the main road, so if you explore the more distant Miao houses or walk your way up to the hill instead of taking an electric car, you can enjoy the architecture and the view without competing with other tourists.

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The main thing to do in Xijiang is to eat! Guizhou cuisine is super spicy, so be prepared. There are numerous different kind of snacks sold along the roads, you won’t go hungry here. You will also find many restaurants and bars inside Xijiang, all to cater the relaxed holiday travellers.

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Talking about eating, you should try the local speciality Long Table Banquet where you will share many small dishes with your friends, or with others if your group isn’t big enough. Price is 28rmb and includes the dishes, rice and alcohol.

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If you see local women coming your way singing then you should either prepare to drink or run away. They will tease you to drink and this alcohol gets to your head quite easily.

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There is a bus to Leishan, but as there isn’t any timetables, it’s hard to know when the bus arrives. We ended up waiting for two hours, the bus was late because of the traffic I guess.

In the next post I will tell how we got lost in the Leigong Mountain and were saved by a local!

More information on Xijiang Village: