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Chinas southwest guizhou

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HISTORY

Guìzhōu 贵州
Compared with its provincial neighbours, Guìzhōu is like the shy younger sibling everyone
knows is there but who no-one pays much attention to. But travellers would still do well
to give this mysterious province a chance. The rugged karst landscape, numerous waterfalls
and intricate cave networks are all worth exploring, but it’s Guìzhōu’s lively mix of people
that makes the province such a standout destination.
Eighteen different ethnic minorities are spread out over the entire province making up 35%
of the entire population. The main groups include the Miao and the Dong in the southeast,
the Hui and the Yi in the west and the Bouyi in the southwest. Other major groups include
the Shui (Sui), Zhuang and Gejia.
Everything from the clothes and food to the architecture helps give this province a unique
flavour. Highlights include the wooden houses of the Miao, the stone houses of the Bouyi
and the elaborate wind and rain bridges and towers of the Dong. The diversity of people
means Guìzhōu’s social calendar is packed and it enjoys more frequent and varied folk festivals than any other province in China. Journeying through remote rural areas and hanging
out with locals at these events can end up being the highlight of a trip through China’s
Southwest.

„ Hit market day at one of southeast Guìzhōu’s

minority villages (p129) for colours, sights
and sounds you’ll never forget

Chìshu¨

„ Search out the Jurassic-era dinosaur plants

at one of Chìshuǐ’s (p149) nature reserves
„ Get drenched under the ribbon-like water-

falls of Maling Gorge (p124) and decide
for yourself whether or not you like it more
than the mighty Huangguoshu Falls (p115),
Guìzhōu’s star attraction
„ Visit the wintering fowl at Caohai Lake

(p118) for a glimpse of the endangered
black-necked crane
„ Travel to the centre of the earth at spooky

Zhijin Cave (p114), the largest cave in China
„ POPULATION: ###

Caohai
Lake

Zhijin Cave
Huangguoshu Falls

Maling
Gorge

Minority
Villages

CLIMATE
Guìzhōu has a temperate climate with an annual average temperature of 15°C. It’s often
overcast and rainy and there is little difference

99

between the seasons. Winter lasts from December to February with average temperatures
of around 1°C. Autumn lasts from September
to November, spring from March to May and
summer from June to August, when temperatures average 22°C to 25°C.

FESTIVALS & EVENTS
Exploring minority festivals and marke...
GUÌZHŌ U
GUÌZHŌ U
lonelyplanet.com GUÌZHŌ U •• History
Compared with its provincial neighbours, Guìzhōu is like the shy younger sibling everyone
knows is there but who no-one pays much attention to. But travellers would still do well
to give this mysterious province a chance. The rugged karst landscape, numerous waterfalls
and intricate cave networks are all worth exploring, but it’s Guìzhōu’s lively mix of people
that makes the province such a standout destination.
Eighteen different ethnic minorities are spread out over the entire province making up 35%
of the entire population. The main groups include the Miao and the Dong in the southeast,
the Hui and the Yi in the west and the Bouyi in the southwest. Other major groups include
the Shui (Sui), Zhuang and Gejia.
Everything from the clothes and food to the architecture helps give this province a unique
flavour. Highlights include the wooden houses of the Miao, the stone houses of the Bouyi
and the elaborate wind and rain bridges and towers of the Dong. The diversity of people
means Guìzhōu’s social calendar is packed and it enjoys more frequent and varied folk fes-
tivals than any other province in China. Journeying through remote rural areas and hanging
out with locals at these events can end up being the highlight of a trip through China’s
Southwest.
Guìzhōu 贵州
HISTORY
Historically no-one has really wanted much to
do with Guìzhōu. Chinese rulers set up an ad-
ministration in the area as far back as the Han
dynasty (206 BC–AD 220), but merely in an
attempt to maintain some measure of control
over Guìzhōu’s non-Chinese tribes. Chinese
settlement was confined to the northern and
eastern parts of the province and the western
areas were not settled until the 16th century,
when rapid immigration forced the native
minorities out of the most fertile areas.
Another wave of Chinese immigration in
the late 19th century brought many settlers
from the overpopulated provinces of Húnán
and Sìchuān. However, with poor communi-
cation systems and transport, development
in Guìzhōu was sluggish and the province
remained impoverished.
It wasn’t until the Sino-Japanese war when
the Kuomintang made Chóngqìng their war-
time capital that the development of Guìzhōu
began: roads to neighbouring provinces were
constructed, a rail link was built to Guǎngxī
and industries were established in Guìyáng and
Zūnyì. Most activity ceased at the end of the
Sino-Japanese war and it wasn’t until the com-
munists began construction of the railways that
industrialisation of the area was revived.
Nevertheless, Chinese statistics continue to
paint a grim picture of underdevelopment and
poverty for Guìzhōu. Depending on which sur-
vey you look at, GDP per capita in Shànghǎi is
10 times higher or more than in Guìzhōu and
the province has a reputation as being one of
the worst run in China’s Southwest.
Still, the government is attempting to
change Guìzhōu’s fortunes with a big empha-
sis on tourism. Highways and small regional
airports are being built in every possible place
to enable fast travel to tourist sights, and mi-
nority cultures are aggressively promoted as
a local attraction.
Guìzhōu does have one claim to fame:
it’s the producer of China’s beloved Maotai
liquor, named for the village of its origin
in Rénhuái County. This fiery white spirit
is sold in distinctive white bottles with a
diagonal red label. Like Yúnnán, Guìzhōu is
also a major tobacco-producing area.
CLIMATE
Guìzhōu has a temperate climate with an an-
nual average temperature of 15°C. It’s often
overcast and rainy and there is little difference
between the seasons. Winter lasts from De-
cember to February with average temperatures
of around 1°C. Autumn lasts from September
to November, spring from March to May and
summer from June to August, when tempera-
tures average 22°C to 25°C.
FESTIVALS & EVENTS
Exploring minority festivals and markets
is one of the main reasons people come to
Guìzhōu. Taking place throughout the lunar
calendar at various sites, these vibrant celebra-
tions can feature bullfighting, horse racing,
pipe playing, comic opera, singing contests
and gigantic courting parties. Oh yes, and
basketball matches.
The majority of festivals are held on auspi-
cious lunar dates such as the 3rd day of the
3rd lunar month, the 6th of the 6th, the 5th of
the 5th and the 9th of the 9th. Most are annual
events, though some are held every few years,
and others just once a decade.
Kǎilǐ is the springboard for festivals in the
Miao and Dong regions of Guìzhōu’s south-
east. It has the most sophisticated tourist setup
and information on festival and market dates
is easy to get; the local tourist officials speak a
variety of foreign languages and are extremely
helpful. However, in other areas, such as the
Southwest’s Bouyi region, there is little tour-
ist infrastructure and getting information
on these events is like pulling teeth. Intrepid
travellers may enjoy giving this region a shot
anyway, as it provides endless opportunities
for off-the-beaten-track discovery.
See the boxed text, p104 , for information
about some of the more popular events, indi-
vidual sections in this chapter for information
on specific festivals, and the table, p101 , for
approximate dates in the Gregorian calendar.
LANGUAGE
Mandarin Chinese is spoken by the Han ma-
jority. Every minority, whether Miao, Dong
or another group, have their own language or
dialects. In some minority villages locals speak
only limited Mandarin Chinese.
GETTING THERE & AWAY
You can fly to more than 40 destinations
within China from Guìyáng’s airport, includ-
ing all major Chinese cities. International des-
tinations include Hong Kong and Bangkok.
A handful of small regional airports have
also opened recently; Xīngyì’s has flights to
HIGHLIGHTS
Hit market day at one of southeast Guìzhōu’s
minority villages ( p129 ) for colours, sights
and sounds you’ll never forget
Search out the Jurassic-era dinosaur plants
at one of Chìshuǐ’s ( p149 ) nature reserves
Get drenched under the ribbon-like water-
falls of Maling Gorge ( p124 ) and decide
for yourself whether or not you like it more
than the mighty Huangguoshu Falls ( p115 ),
Guìzhōu’s star attraction
Visit the wintering fowl at Caohai Lake
( p118 ) for a glimpse of the endangered
black-necked crane
Travel to the centre of the earth at spooky
Zhijin Cave ( p114 ), the largest cave in China
Chìshu¨
Huangguoshu Falls
Villages
Minority
Gorge
Maling
Lake
Caohai
Zhijin Cave
POPULATION: ###
© Lonely Planet Publications
98 99
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