Kaili proved to be a great place to situate myself before visiting Zhenyuan Ancient town, and then off to the smaller minority villages! Wow, so the old part of Zhenyuan is a real treat for the eyes. Once you get to the main bridge, you know you've arrived somewhere special! The serene water surrounds the intricately-constructed buildings. The town itself does not have much in it, but a place I highly recommend seeing and a place where you can bargain a river-view room down to quite a reasonable rate.
After Kaili, the next stop was to Langde, a small Miao village! I spent some time being hounded to buy hand-made crafts that the women in the village seem to have slaved over for centuries. I spent a long time sitting with a man and his wife on the top of the mountain. We were communicating a little - I understood that he and his wife were about 80 years old. He proceeded to write on the ground with some sort of rock, the numbers one through ten, oddly enough in no particular order in groups of 3-4. I believe the pattern was 4,5,6; 7,8,9; 1,2,3.
I was initially going to sleep in a family's house, in a spare bedroom for a small fee, but due to the inconvenience of a slightly (or incredibly) boisterous and anything-but-quiet pig located directly outside of my bedroom window, I changed to a more reasonably located accommodation, and found myself with a delicious dinner as well!
That day I explored another close by Miao village as well. These women walk around the rice fields, cutting the plants, then either a) banging the rice off into a wheel barrel-type apparatus, b) manually using their feet to control a lever that is separating the rice from the plant it grows on, or c) sending the plants through a machine that does the work! They then put the rice they have collected on a mat and use a tool resembling a rake to spread the Keep in mind that I don't speak the language so my interpretation could be totally off...they might be producing strawberries...ok I'm not THAT far off ;) hahaha
The next day, I took some steps to get to the next location where I would base some village-visiting out of, Rongjiang, Southeastern Guizhou province. For the first time i saw a dead dog (well two) being sold at the market place- you see everything really...and i think its just one kind of dog which is eaten, but still...icky. From here I visited a village where the Dong minority reside, called Chejiang. Aside from one large tower with the classic Dong architecture (it is hard to explain, so you are better off google imaging this one) and a nice pagoda, there was nothing of too much interest here. The Dong speak their own language so even my somewhat understandable Chinese was of no use here really. I did manage to cause absolute chaos at a K-5 school when I entered and caused the students to go into a frenzy, quite excited that a visitor had come to play. I'm sure that these children had a story for their parents after school :)
I am in Basha right now, and this village is really cool...not many people here and they are actually considered a tribe. Here, they have their own language. when people are born a tree is planted for them, and when they die, the tree is cut down, and the person is buried there, then a new one is planted. Also, apparently there is no arguing here - the people are calm and there is no divorce. Many boys here have long hair and wear them in ponytails with topknots. The women are dressed in bright colors and the grown men carry daggers, swords, and guns looking as though they came from the civil war. Strangely enough, I thought Tibet was the only region in China allowed to have guns, I guess I was wrong and actually I was told that there has never been a gun accident here, that's how careful they are here. I feel like I am in the middle of a national geographic episode and actually there is a documentary being filmed here now, so I am not too far off!
I am off to the final village I will visit tomorrow, Zhaoxing, before heading to Guilin and Yangshou! On a random sidenote, how can the Chinese be so kind to pay for hotel rooms for me, yet so inconsiderate as to smoke like chimneys on enclosed buses and trains? This puzzles me...and also here I instead of the sound "ah" such as "Xie xie ah!" (after thank you) I often hear "Ooooo" after words...strange! until soon!, signing off is your captain miZZ! :)