A Travellerspoint blog

Markets, Festivals, BBQ, Beer & Miao Girls...Yum!

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya,

Do you ever have times when you know that you are going to eat? I mean really REALLY eat and eat and eat until you can’t fit another thing in.

Several days ago Connie and I sadly said our goodbyes at the Zhangjiajie train station and as she boarded a bus that would take her back to her family in Changsha City I boarded my train and ventured ten hours south into the lush greens of Guizhou Province. I can now be found slurping my Beers N Noodles in the small yet beautiful Minority People’s city of Kaili and with a population of around one hundred and fifty thousand people it’s more like a country town here in China. I arrived around seven in the evening and grabbed the first local bus that came into view which thankfully took me from the station down into the heart of the city where I departed on the very vibrant Beijing Donglu.

I then began my usual Hotel Shuffle.

After a short walk around it was easy to see that the main roundabout area of Shaoshan Lu and Bejing Lu is where all the action is in Kaili so after checking out several hotels in that area I decided on the Hong Qi Hotel which is found on Shaoshan Road right near roundabout. I’m twelve floors up, have a great view of the city, internet, a western toilet and a very clean room to throw my stuff around in and make a mess of.

Checking in was a rather strange experience.

In all of my five and a half years of travelling around China I have never been asked when I arrived in China and at what airport. For me the answer was easy as it is all in my old passport. I have the Customs stamp that reads 18th February 2005 followed by my Residency Visa that was back dated to that date. The staff though continued to search through both of my Passports and kept on pointing to the Customs stamp and asking where my entry stamp was.

I continually told them that I hadn’t been home for the entire time and haven’t seen my family and friends for five and a half years but they didn’t quite get the picture.

They called English speaking friends who came to help who then called their other hotel English speaking friends (all of whom had very limited English) who also came to help. They all passed my passports around and continually searched for an invisible and more recent Customs stamp and finally after around forty minutes of me showing them all of my yearly Residency Visa’s and explaining to them that I had not returned to Australia for five and a half years they finally came to the conclusion that I hadn’t actually left China for five and a half years.

Oh gee, why didn’t I think of putting it that way!

Over the past several days Kaili city has grown on me just as it does most people who come here. Even though there really isn’t all that much to see and do in the actual city itself I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews on the city. Even the Chinese love how clean it is and that there is no pollution. The main shopping area is a mixture of modern shops, vibrant road side market places and full to the brim 'Eat Streets’ so much so that there really isn’t any need to stray from the area after dark.

The main ‘stuff’ market area can be found at the head of Shaoshan Lu and is set around the main road tunnel mouth. Here you can buy almost anything you want from nail clippers to a girl’s tee-shirt that has not only Bling on it but comes complete with the lyrics to AC/DC’s ‘Highway to Hell.’

I ask you, what else would a man want his Chinese Beauty dressed in!

The city’s main pedestrian and shopping mall can also be found in this area along with uncountable snack alleys and stalls all of which are just off the city’s ‘Old Quarter’. It’s no Pingyao, Fenghuang or Yangshuo but it does actually exist no matter how tiny it is. Facing the Pavilion located above the Shaoshan road tunnel if you head into the small streets to the right you will find an exciting area where families churn out handmade Miao Silver jewelery and costumes.

I was amazed at how friendly they were as many of them waved me over to show me what they were making and how they were making it. .

A huge ‘Eat Street’ can be found east off Beijing Lu and here you can choose anything from ‘inners & outers’, snails, rabbit and vegetables along with all the other bits and pieces that can normally be found upon a Chinese Eat Street. There are no KFC’s or Mc Donald’s for me to write in but there are two small DICO Chicken eateries and one other local Chicken Eatery that I chose re-caffeinate in and watch people go by as I dribbled out this rubbish you’re reading now.

<u>Things To Do & See</u>

Kaili city is so small that the few things to see are all within walking distance if you love walking. Upon waking on my first morning I decided walk the four kilometers to Jinquanhu Lake Park but the lazy people can catch Bus Number 9 that heads south down Shaoshan Lu. The park itself is tiny and more of an amusement park with a couple of small pagodas to rest in. If you walk to the back of the park and up the small hill you will find a small lake that has a short yet peaceful walk along side. I spent around an hour walking along the lake and back to the park and after grabbing a cold drink I sat chatting to some university students in one of the small pagodas before getting lost in the side streets slowly making my way back towards the center of the city.

Along the way I came across the city sports arena which I thought was spectacular!

Somehow I managed to end up a small block near the back end of the Pedestrian Street and spent an hour walking around snacking on any new thing I could possible find. I snacked so much that some of the locals would come searching for me and drag me to a friend’s little snack stall to show me what local &#8216;thing’ they had to offer. It was a real treat and allowed them and me to feel more comfortable with each other there for I was happy to take more than my usual almost no people shots.

I know I should take more People Shot’s but I always feel uncomfortable taking them.

Today (being Monday, 2nd of August) I thought I would slowly head towards Dage Park (Big Pagoda Park) and see what trouble I could find along the way. Well I’m not sure about the trouble part of it as finding the park entrance was more than enough trouble. I followed the bus route I came in on and headed down Beijing Lu to Wenhua Beilu, past the bus station and up to Huancheng Lu and I couldn’t find the park entrance.

I even made it all the way around to the other side of the Shaoshan Lu Tunnel. Yet still I couldn’t find the damn park entrance.

In the end I found a small set of stairs that took me up the back of the mountain and past several small and very poor looking houses. I then had to scramble my way to the top and wallah, I ended up right at the park entrance. The park was very peaceful and had only a hand full of locals who were there keeping cool in the shade from the trees. The pagoda itself was worthy of a visit, nothing spectacular more so because you couldn’t climb it for views of the city.

I spent about half an hour walking around and then began heading down the hill via the road.

When I reached the bottom I was at the top end of Shaoshan Lu and on top of the tunnel that takes traffic through the mountain I was just on. Just behind the Peoples Pagoda there is a beautiful old residence and after saying a happy hello to the lady who was standing out front she asked if I wanted to have a look. It was stunning and more like a small version of salt merchant’s residents that can be found near Suzhou/Hangzhou but without the grounds. This residence I think has just been renovated as at the moment it stands empty.

After taking some photos I thanked the family that had come out to see a monkey walking around their yard and I then headed down to the Peoples Pagoda to check out the snack situation. Here I found a delicious cold tofu based treat to try and it was delicious!

I spent the next few hours slowly walking around the city’s tiny Old Quarter stopping to talk to different families as they handmade local people’s clothes, jewelry and hair pieces.

<u>Now For a Bit On Guizhou Province &#8211; one of China’s poorest!</u>

GUIZHOU PROVINCE is a hilly and remote province in southwest China.

Situated between Hunan, Guangxi, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces, it is known for its beautiful countryside, festivals and ethnic minorities (Yi, Dong, Miao, Bouyei, Shui, Gelao, Bai, Zhuang and Hui make up much of the population). In 1935, during the Long March, Mao Zedong consolidated his power here and took control of the Chinese Communist Party.

There is a saying in Guizhou: "there aren't three days without rain, three miles without a mountain or three coins’ in anyone's pocket." About ninety percent of the land is covered by mountains and well over a third of the villages cannot be reached by road.

Even though only twelve percent of the land is arable, farmers make the most of it by harvesting two crops a year in a patchwork of fields between limestone hills and low granite mountains. Homes, walls, terraces, bridges, aqueducts, roads, dikes and dams are all built from stone. Travel is not easy as the trains are slow and bus and truck journeys are rough.

Guizhou is also obviously one of China's poorest provinces.

According to one estimate seventy percent of the population is illiterate, and a third of the people live in severe poverty. Guizhou is rich in minerals but it doesn't have the infrastructure to deliver them to the marketplace. Peasant families sleep in open-air huts, collect water in the mountains with shoulder poles, sleep under thin quilts in the winter and subsist off cornmeal gruel. Many people are too poor to buy plow animals or fertilizer or afford electricity. In the remote Duyun prefecture, 3.8 million people live below the Beijing poverty line of $1 a week.

Many people here say they lived better in the Mao era when at least they were guaranteed grain rations and given subsidized medical care and free schooling.

Beers N Noodles toya…..shane ___________________________________________________

The soundtrack to this entry was by Accept The album was &#8216;All Areas World Wide Live’ ___________________________________________________

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Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China

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