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China - Travel diary 2005


2005 tour with Gina Corrigan

click on thumbnails below to go to associated photogalleries unless they are still work in progress

Beijing | Guiyang | Kaili | Sandu | Rongjiang | Congjiang | Zhaoxing | Longshen | Guilin | Beijing

Saturday 7 May - London / Beijing

Depart London Heathrow on the Air China flight to Beijing, flying overnight. Keith picked me up on time and we had a fast run through to Heathrow I managed to get an aisle seat at check-in. Had a snack in the Departure Lounge and saw Shelagh, Peter and Gina. Flight left on time. There was a smell of the loos on the ‘plane and the seats were very uncomfortable with no support for the small of the back. Got some sleep but not as much as I would have liked. top

Sunday 8 May - Beijing

We were met at airport by the Beijing local guide ‘Rose’ with a minibus to take us to our hotel: Jianguo Garden Hotel. I had a headache.

I changed travellers cheques into Yuan at the Bank of China branch at the hotel and then went out for a walk with Danny and David Liebeck and we walked to Tiananmen Square. Some people went to the Silk Market. It was sunny, very breezy and reasonably pleasant. I caught the sun. It took us quite a bit of effort to get a metered taxi (Y10) back to the hotel. I continued to feel heady on our return. Had a shower and then we went out to dinner which was quite good. Still feeling heady. Had an early night.


Monday 9 May - Beijing / Guiyang

Had some sleep last night but I was quite wide awake at 1.00 a.m. After about 2.15 a.m. I dozed to the TV. I had set my alarm for 7.00 a.m. Breakfast was a buffet on the 2nd Floor which was quite good with apricot jam, Anchor butter, a good orange juice and lots of coffee. I had time to get myself together before we left for the airport..

We had a quick run to the airport in Beijing and no problems checking-in. I again managed to get an aisle seat (but switched after take-off to another aisle seat as I was next to a fidgety young man). The flight was fine – much better than the Air China international flight.

Xiao Wang (Wang Jun) met us at Guiyang airport with driver Lao Huang and new young girl graduate (of English Literature) Effie. We went to the new Bird and Flower Market in a former steel works. The previous market had been closed as a new (Sheraton) hotel was going to be built and the old market along the river would become the hotel car park! We then drove to the statue of Mao and then to the pagoda and walked around the bend of the river to take photos. Apparently the shop in the pagoda which used to sell books and minority clothing had moved.

We then went to our hotel, the Jinjiang Flower Hotel, and up to the lobby on the 12th floor. Mrs Yang (from Kaili) was waiting. We had an hour to sort ourselves out – I downloaded my photos from SD disk to the computer – and then we went out by bus to dinner.

After dinner we came back to the hotel and had 20 minutes respite and then we went to 13th floor where Mrs Yang gave us a lecture, with Xiao Wang translating, on the history of the Miao migration to Guizhou, the names of the groups and styles of embroidery. She had brought some pieces for us to see. We were allowed to take photos. top

Map derived from Nelles 'Explore the World' Map of Southern China 2005 edition

Tuesday 10 May - Guiyang / Kaili

Not a very good buffet breakfast at the hotel. We left Guyiang and drove on the newly built motorway through rounded green hills and valleys to Kaili. It drizzled some of the way. We checked in at the Guo Tai Hotel. I swapped rooms with David and Joyce to give them a double bed. We went out of the hotel by bus for lunch. This was more spicy at our request. We then drove to the Ge Jia village of Matang, Kaili city - see on map. The road to the village was a very bumpy, broken-up concrete road. We walked the last few yards into the village as the road was being rebuilt. We went up through the village on a new path. It was very attractive with wooden houses built in the old style with pegs rather than nails. A new performance ground had almost been completed. (When I visited the village in November 2001 we did not go up into the village iteself but the performance was on a flat ground at the entrance to the village).

There was a large troupe of dancers who performed for us. There were quite a lot of women around the outside of the ground selling textiles. I found it difficult to choose/find things. I could have bought some old tu bu (hand spun) skirts both plain, with wax resist and embroidered, with wax resist.

Matang village, Kaili city


Photogallery in progress

A gallery of photos taken on 10 May 2005 in Ge Jia village of Matang, Kaili city, Guizhou province. Under construction. Also see a gallery of photos taken on 5 November 2001 during a visit to Matang village.

all text and images © Pamela A Cross top

Collected: Matang village, Kaili city, Guizhou province: Ge Jia an older winter baby carrier in wax resist with a ‘tu bu’ (hand-spun), hand-woven backing. I also bought a small triangular oldish wax resist head-piece and, near the bus, a wax resist apron – possibly for a child - which is probably not old .

It was a bumpy and twisting road back to the hotel. Outside my room there was building work going on. I felt very heady. My sinuses were really playing up plus the bumpy road.

We had a sour fish soup dinner at the hotel which was good and quite reviving. Xiao Wang had some emailing to do so the driver and Effie took us to a dealer’s home and we saw quite a lot of his stock – but not as much as I would have liked! In the end I bought a very good condition Langde style Miao jacket which Gina thought was an excellent one. Some people bought white metal hair pins and ear-rings.

Collected: Langde style Miao embroidered jacket

We came back to the hotel by bus. top

Wednesday 11 May - Kaili

We had an OK buffet breakfast and then we went to the Miao village of Shi Qing, Ya Fang Township of Kaili city - see on map. These Miao have the nickname of ‘small horn Miao’ based on the festival metal head dresses of the girls. In the 2000 census there were 40,000 and were the largest Miao group. It was raining and quite hazy. We had some dances from a small group of girls and two men playing lusheng pipes on an area of concrete below the path up to the village. We then went up into the village and had some demonstrations of sewing silk felt, embroidery, weaving the intricate ‘picked’ brocade used for the baby carriers and fine braid ribbons. Local villagers raise silk worms (we saw a basket of them). When the worms are ready to spin their cocoon the larvae are put on a board and the silk, instead of being formed into a cocoon, is spread over a flat surface. The result is a fine layer of paper-like fabric. The silk felt is dyed and applied to the costumes in minute geometrical shapes. The village and surroundings were very atmospheric - especially as we left. top

Shi Qing village, Ya Fang township of Kaili city

Photogallery in progress

A gallery of photos taken on 11 May 2005 in Miao village of Shi Qing, Ya Fang township of Kaili city, Guizou province. These Miao have been nicknamed 'small horn Miao' based on the festival headdresses of the girls.

all text and images © Pamela A Cross top

Collected: Shi Qing village, Ya Fang township of Kaili city, Guizou province: small horn Miao - Strip of woven fabric; a silk felt embroidered and metal edged square; a woven ribbon and a much longer woven ribbon.

We returned to Kaili and went to a ‘local, local’ hotel for lunch and then came back to the Guo Tai Hotel. I downloaded my photos from my digital camera – and was quite pleased with them! As we were leaving the hotel I met a girl, Shi Jin Hua (Jenny) who wanted me to go back home to see her textiles but I said that I had no time. (It seems that Shelagh also met up with her).

We then went out to Mrs Yang’s current workshop on the road to Leishan which she rents. She has bought land and is having a new workshop built which will be ready in August. Mrs Yang demonstrated various embroidery stitches for us and showed us examples both that she had made and in the original textiles which was very interesting. We were then free to go through the shop to buy. I did not buy anything but ordered a book which I hope to get tomorrow. We had “dinner” cooked by Mrs Yang’s husband. It was a soup, which was good, but we did not realise that this was all that we were going to get to eat!

We came back to the hotel by 7.30 p.m. Shelagh, Celia and I met Shi Jin Hua (Jenny) and agreed to go to her home at 8.00 p.m. We bought some very tasty strawberries and lychees. When we got back to the hotel I went to find my washing – a shirt and trousers. It turned out that my invoice was in the wrong bag of washing. Eventually this turned out to be Vera’s and I met her in the lift with my bag and we were able to sort it out. I went down to join Celia and Shelagh. As we were walking up the road with Jenny, Gina and Peter joined us. It was very dark going into Jenny’s family’s rooms. We met her father and mother. They had invested in a lot of textiles. Her mother was a Miao from Huangping. It was clear that the family was quite desperate to sell. Jenny’s brother was being funded in education. Gina bought some new Huangping pieces; Shelagh some jewellery and Celia a Zhi Jin baby carrier and some embroidery pieces. We then came back to the hotel. top

Collected: pair of embroidered bands from the sleeves of an old Huangping jacket which had been backed and quite an old Geyi jacket.

Thursday 12 May - Kaili

I had a good night’s sleep and an OK breakfast. We then set out for a ‘new’ village which replaced the original destination of Fanpai Miao village in Taijiang county which has been open to tourism for a long time. The new village was Da Zhai village, Taipan township - see on map - in Taijiang county. The village has been prepared for opening up in the past year. Its setting is quite similar to Langde – set at the base of a mountain above a bend in the river – and the festival costume of the local Miao is also similar. A friend of Gina’s, Mr Yang, a Miao from Taijiang and currently head of tourism in the county, was our local contact. We stopped to meet him and for a loo stop on a hill overlooking the village although we did not know that this was the village that we would be visiting at the time.

There was a welcome to Da Zhai village from a group of girls as we walked up to it and there was palpable excitement as we entered the beautifully created circular dancing ground at the base of the village which had been beautifully paved. We were overwhelmed as we sat down and all the people of the village streamed onto the parade ground. Young children in festival dress, girls, young women, old women, old men and some younger ones. The older men were playing a range of Lusheng pipes of all sizes. There was a metal drum in the middle of the ground hanging on a wooden frame. It was so moving as the whole procession circled around to the insistent beating of the drum. There were some set dances and then the dancers circled around again and we were drawn into the dance.

Eventually we were given a demonstration of braid weaving and I photographed the drum. We were told how important the drum was to the village. We then walked up through the village to (probably) the head man’s house where there was a tremendous display of food laid out for us. On the way up Shelagh and I had to use the local loo – which was quite ‘challenging’! I should not have had so many strawberries! The woman of the house kept pouring us local alcohol. It was hard to get any tea! At the end of the meal a woman brought three Geyi embroidered baby carriers – one in folded ribbon and two in knotted embroidery in very ornate figurative designs.

I wandered off and had a bit of a look around the village. I came back and found Shelagh with an old woman knitting/crocheting a fish net. I then found an old woman who came out and put out a stool and started to needle weave some bands of the sleeves of a festival costume. She had woven braids and cut pieces of silk in her work box. Shelagh came over to join us. top

Da Zhai village, Taipan township, Taijiang county

Photogallery in progress

A gallery of photos taken on 12 May 2005 in the Miao village of Da Zhai, Taipan township, Taijiang county, Guizhou province. The village had only just been opened up to tourists. There were a very large number of villagers of all ages who performed dance and music.

all text and images © Pamela A Cross top

Collected in Da Zhai, Taipan township, Taijiang county, Guizhou province: a bamboo stretcher with a piece of the silk weaving.

Xiao Wang arrived having been looking for us. We went down to the bus and the others were very cross with us as they had been waiting for quite a time. We stopped across from the village to photograph it and then went to the petrol station for a loo stop. The village that we had seen from there earlier was actually Da Zhai village. We were all on a tremendous ‘high’ from the experience in the village.

We returned to the hotel where Mrs Yang had arrived with my book and some embroidery paper cuts.

Collected: ‘Illustrated Guizhou Ethnic Cultures’ (Guizhou Minzu Fengqing Tujian) and a few embroidery paper cuts.

I went off with Effie and Vera to the Bank of China to change some more travellers cheques and then I came back to the hotel. When I got back to my room I saw that my left eye below the bottom lid had swollen up. Gina gave be some anti-histamine tablets. I downloaded my photos and organised them. I then sorted out my things ready to leave in the morning before going down and out to dinner at a restaurant in the town. There were some very noisy boys playing ball in the restaurant.

After dinner we came back to drop off David Knott and we then went to the home of a dealer that Gina had known over about 15 years. She was in Beijing and it was her husband who brought us to the two apartments where there were loads of textiles and other items just heaped and jumbled in various rooms. There were quite a few Li items but not of any very great quality. One jacket that I asked about was quite nice but with several holes. The starting price was 4,000 Yuan. There was a quite nice Ge Jia tu bu jacket with the starting price of 5,000 Yuan. The registration of the two back panels was very bad which put me off from trying to bargain the price down. There were various nice items but at high prices and the attitude of the people there was very indifferent and off-putting. I don’t think that anyone bought anything.

When we came back to the hotel Jenny was outside with some machine embroidered cushions for Gina. After giving Vera her paper cuts which I had been looking after for her, I went back with Jenny to her home with Danny, Jenny and Liz and we went through the textiles and jewellery.

Collected: Two pieces of Huangping fragments and two white metal clasps and a pair of earplug ear rings.

I was absolutely shattered! On our return to the hotel I wrote up all my notes for the day and sorted out my last things.

Friday 13 May - Kaili / Sandu

We had breakfast and left Kaili for Sandu. We saw ‘Jenny’s’ mother outside the hotel and she recognised us.

The distance to Sandu from Kaili was a three to three-and-a-half hour (non-stop) drive. We stopped three times on the road for two photo stops for the terraces in the valleys and one loo stop. We also stopped in a village – Shi Qiao village, Xingren township, - see on map - Danzhai county. The village is mainly Han but with some Miao. It is very small with approximately 130 households. We first stopped in error in the centre of the village where they were expecting a party official. I took a few photos of the women in festival dress. We then drove a little way out of the centre of the village and came to a where the Miao were making paper in the traditional manner from local materials. There are around 20 or less people in the village who are still making paper. The paper is made from the under layer of bark of the goupi tree. The bark is stripped and the under layer of pith is soaked in water. A chemical is added and the pith is soaked again at least once more and then pounded with a wooden pounder operated by foot so that the wooden mallet pounds the pith onto a stone. The mushy result is added to water and the a layer of paper is skimmed off the water onto a reed screen and deposited on a pile to dry. There is a press to extract the water from the wet sheets of paper before taking them to the heated drying chambers.

I went out of the paper-making workshop to take some photos of the farming and spotted a tall old man carrying a roll over his shoulder and a kind of loom with very many threads hanging on bobbins. He let me take some photos and then walked to just past the paper-making workshop where he set down his ‘loom’ on a convenient table. He hung up about 3 rattan screens (made from lacquered slivers of bamboo) and proceeded to tie in thin slivers of bamboo with the threads hanging on the bobbins. I alerted Shelagh and Gina to his presence. top

Shi Qiao village, Xingren township, Danzhai county

Photogallery in progress

A gallery of photos taken on 13 May 2005 in Shi Qiao village, Xingren township, Danzhai county, Guizhou province. We visited a paper-making workshop and also saw a man making the bamboo screens used in making the paper.

all text and images © Pamela A Cross top

We were late arriving in Sandu - see on map - at our hotel, the Yingbingguan Hotel, and pretty hungry for our lunch which we ate at a restaurant next door to the hotel.

In this area the Shui minority lives. The Shui women are particularly well-known for their richly embroidered baby carriers. One of the most unusual features of their baby carriers is their use of horsehair which they make into a gimp thread and outline the colourful applied pieces of material. A variety of other embroidery techniques are used.

After lunch we set off plus our local, female, guide to Ban Miao (‘near Miao’) village, Zhong He township - see on map, Sandu county. This was a Shui village and the first to be opened up to visitors. It was about one hour from Sandu city. Not far from the village we passed through a busy Shui market in Zhong He.

When we went arrived at the village we were met by the headman who led us up into the village. This was a traditional village with no ‘improvements’ although there were some new wooden houses visible. When we arrived at the headman’s house a metal drum was beaten. There were three women dressed in Shui traditional clothes of a tunic with an embroidered apron over simple dark trousers, the headman and another, smaller, old man. There was a table laid with a spread of traditional Shui food. We were given a simulation of the ‘Duan’ festival led by the headman which is similar to a sacrificial festival to the ancestors. The meal was mainly vegetarian except for some fish (no meat is allowed at the time of the festival). We had to drink three small bowls of alcohol as well as one as we entered the house.

We then went outside to a small courtyard set amongst the houses and had a demonstration of creating horsehair gimp and sewing some embroidery. We were able to buy some textiles – there were some embroidered baby carriers laid out, some woven lengths of indigo cotton and some traditional embroidered shoes. top

Ban Miao village, Zhong He township, Sandu county

Photogallery in progress

A gallery of photos taken on 13 May 2005 in Ban Miao (meaning 'near Miao') village, Zhong He township, Sandu county, Guizhou province.

all text and images © Pamela A Cross top

Collected: pair of tops for shoes in the process of being made, a piece of woven braid and a long length of diamond weave indigo cotton cloth which I subsequently split with Jenny.

We then had a look at a couple of the ‘lanes’ in the village amongst old wooden houses before going back to the bus. We then drove back to Sandu stopping in the town of Zhong He where we were able to walk through the market which was still quite busy. Many of the women were wearing traditional Shui clothing and a few were wearing the embroidered aprons with silver fastening chains holding up the top. top

Zhong He township market, Sandu county

Photogallery in progress

A gallery of photos taken on 13 May 2005 at Zhong He township market, Sandu county, Guizhou province.

all text and images © Pamela A Cross top

We then returned to the hotel in Sandu and checked into our rooms. The loo was a squat one right in front of the bathroom door as you entered from the bedroom. I checked on the wiring in the bedroom to see if I could get my computer working OK and the camera battery charged. All was well. I had a quick shower which was very hot. I just got finished in time to go down for dinner which was in the same place next door where we had had lunch. I then came back to my room and downloaded my photos and sorted them out. top

Saturday 14 May - Sandu / Rongjiang

I went to bed with the air conditioning on but it went off at about 2.00 a.m. although I managed to re-start it. It went off again at about 5.00 a.m. but I could not get it to re-start this time. It seemed as if it was a power cut as the bedside light would not come on. However, I subsequently discovered that the overhead light and the bathroom lights were still working although I did not realise this until after I had decided not to have a shower in the darkened bathroom nor wash my hair. Thank goodness I had had a shower, albeit very hasty, the night before! We had a difficult, for me, Asian breakfast and I did not eat very much.

We set off out of Sandu towards Rongjiang at about 8.15 a.m. All the route that we followed during the day was along the Duliu river which flows into the Pearl river delta. This is quite different from the other Miao areas and rivers around Kaili which run into the Yangtze. This has made the Miao in the Duliu river area more cut-off and less influenced by the Han in their culture and designs. It was beautiful scenery with steep, wooded mountains falling sharply down to the river.

We stopped after about 30 minutes and walked up a steep path to a Shui village – Yangweng village of Bajie township - see on map, Sandu county. The sun was shining and it was quite hot climbing up. At the entrance to the village, on a flat area surrounded by a wall, were four Miao women fully dressed in their festival costumes, three Miao men playing on Lusheng pipes, two Miao men dressed in buffalo costumes and at least two Miao men dressed as women. Apparently the Miao village – also called Yangweng village – was higher up the mountain above the Shui village. Two of the women were wearing embroidered festival costumes which included bird motifs and two were wearing costumes with panels of weaving. The embroidered costume was made of silk felt applied to cotton and then embroidered with large colourful motifs of butterflies, birds and flowers. Apparently green satins are sometimes used instead of silk felt. The silver jewellery and crowns were particularly interesting. The Miao are known as 'Hundred Bird Miao' from the many birds embroidered on their festival costume.

The Miao danced for us. Gina drew out a couple of the women so that we could see their festival costumes and headdresses in detail and also their ordinary day wear which they were wearing underneath the festival clothing. The festival costume was a coat and, under this a skirt with similar ‘tails’. They then danced for us again.

After this performance we were welcomed into the Shui village with a drink and then a pyramidal rice ‘lollipop’ on a stick with embedded fruit. This had been wrapped in leaves to cover and shape. We then walked through the Shui village and down to a place near a spring where the Miao and Shui women (in separate groups) laid out their clothing for us to buy. top

Yangweng village, Bajie township, Sandu county

Photogallery in progress

A gallery of photos taken on 14 May 2005 at Yangweng village, Bajie township, Sandu county, Guizhou province. There is a Shui village of Yangweng - which we visited. Higher up the mountain is a Miao village also named Yangweng. We did not visit this village but a group of Miao - known as Hundred Bird Miao from the embroidered birds on their festival costume - came down to perform for us and sell some of their textiles.

all text and images © Pamela A Cross top

Collected fromYangweng village, Bajie township, Sandu county, Guizhou province: several items of Hundred Bird Miao woman’s costume for every day – - jacket, apron, leggings and ties, head covering and back-skirt and ties all except the shiny indigo short trousers (unfortunately).

We then climbed back up into the main Shui village where we had a hotpot for lunch in one of the houses with a fantastic view across the village to mountains beyond. Some swallows (or house martins?) were quite worried as they had at least one nest up in the eaves of the veranda. We then walked back down to the bus. We were very hot and tired. Some way along the road we had a loo stop and went down almost to the river.

We arrived at the Rongjiang Hotel in Rongjiang - see on map - at about 2.30. I managed to trip up over a narrow step in the hotel hidden by the grey carpet as I was taking a door key downstairs that would not work. I smashed down very hard onto the concrete floor under the thin carpet. Thankfully, although shaken and somewhat bruised, I was OK! The room had a reasonable bathroom and also air conditioning.

I managed to connect by mobile ‘phone to Mummy. We had an OK dinner at the hotel. I managed to have almost a whole glass of beer spilt over my (clean) trousers and blouse! These were my only remaining trousers as I had sent off two pairs of trousers and two blouses to be laundered. Gina gave a lecture after dinner on poverty and the Miao. top

Sunday 15 May - Rongjiang

Our 7.30 a.m. wake-up call came at 6.30 a.m. followed by laundry back at 6.50 and a man coming into my room at 7.00!

We picked up our Rongjiang local guide (Mr Hur?) He told us that ‘rong’ means ‘banyan tree’ and ‘jiang’ is river. Rongjiang - see on map - is at the meeting of three rivers. There are 50 minorities in Rongjiang county including 7 kinds of Dong and 15 kinds of Miao.

We set off for a Miao village, Wu Jia Zhai village, Gu Zhou township, Rongjiang county - see on map - near the Ping Yong river. Mr Hur referred to this Miao as ‘Black Miao’. Gina said that this Miao group have also been nicknamed “Short Skirt Miao”. We were able to drive pretty much right up to the village on a new road. Previously Gina had walked a long way to visit the village. We were met near the bottom of the stony track leading to stone steps up to the village. The Miao had made a welcome arch of bamboo. Some girls sang and danced a little welcome dance for us and a man played a lusheng pipe. We then walked up into the village where Gina took us through the costume on one of the girls. As the travel notes said: ‘this is decorated with intricate embroidery and woven pieces. The silver worn at festivals is very delicate and fine. The people are small, thin and elegant and look superb in their shiny black jackets embellished on the lower back with vibrant colours. The finely pleated short skirts are very eye-catching’.

The girls then sang and danced, a man played a lusheng and another man played a stringed instrument for which the name in Miao is ‘leg of buffalo’ because of its shape. At the same time some women demonstrated embroidering over weaving; showed their (folded paper) sewing cases; and demonstrated how the skirts are pleated by creasing folds on a board with a fingernail. The skirt is made up of three parts: a front skirt with embroidered side pieces, a plain back skirt with a wider waistband, and a band with extra decorated pieces which show at the side edges of the front skirt. We were then able to buy some textiles and the women provided a good choice for us. top

Wu Jia Zhai village, Gu Zhou township, Rongjiang county

Photogallery in progress

A gallery of photos taken on 15 May in Miao village of Wu Jia Zhai, Gu Zhou township, Rongjiang county, Guizhou province.  Our local guide called this group as 'Black Miao' but they are often referred to as 'Short skirt Miao'.

all text and images © Pamela A Cross top

Collected in the Miao village of Wu Jia Zhai, Gu Zhou township, Rongjiang county, Guizhou province: a woman’s jacket, a woman’s front skirt, a woman’s extra side skirt pieces, a bag, a baby’s hat and a pair of gaiters and woven ties.

We saw a woman knitting a net. We went into a house where we saw a woman weaving some complex supplementary weft (brocade) on an upright frame loom. It was a pleasant visit but very hot!

We drove back to the hotel. I was drenched in sweat. After a (tasty) lunch we had a bit of a rest and I was able to download my photos.

In the afternoon we went to a very large Dong village, San Bao village, Che Jiang township, Rongjiang county. There are more than 2,000 households and more than 10,000 Dong living in this village. It has the tallest Dong drum tower which has been rebuilt recently. We went into the middle of the village. We were greeted by a group of women who sang a greeting and gave us red-coloured eggs and alcohol. We examined the covered way to the drum tower where there were murals painted on the roof. The girls danced on the flat concrete area under the tower.

We were allowed to see inside the sacred house of the Grandmother of San Bao. We then walked nearer to the main village and close to the river. The girls set up and demonstrated various techniques: spinning – a woman was spinning cotton onto two shuttles; winding cotton from the bobbins onto a large cone; and then weaving plain cotton cloth on an upright loom. Some old women came to sell some simple woven fabric including plain white, indigo shiny cloth, lengths of striped braid and some bags of striped woven cloth. top

San Bao village, Che Jiang township, Rongjiang county

Photogallery in progress

A gallery of photos taken on 15 May in the Dong village of San Bao, Che Jiang township, Rongjiang county, Guizhou province.  This is a large Dong village of more than 2,000 households and 10,000 people. It has the tallest Dong drum tower.

all text and images © Pamela A Cross top

Collected in the Dong village of San Bao, Che Jiang township, Rongjiang county, Guizhou province: one length of braid, two pieces of braid and a striped, woven bag.

We then had about 30 minutes to wander along the river and into the village. Several of the women were interested in my bag and wanted to know what I had paid for it and also the braids. I saw an old man and woman making fishing nets and one woman drew me into her house and wanted to sell me material for a bag and braids.

After we came back to the hotel I went out with Shelagh and Celia to the market. We bought some lychees and mangoes. Most of the market had finished. We saw one Miao couple both of whom were wearing beautiful baby carriers holding their babies. We had dinner at the hotel and I then spent the evening labelling my textiles, packing and writing up my notes. top

Monday 16 May - Rongjiang / Congjiang

Breakfast was not so prompt today – as our morning call was ‘on-time’ rather than ‘early’.

We went out of Rongjiang along the river past the previous day’s Dong village of San Bao and started to climb up out of the valley. The scenery was magnificent as we climbed up and there were some flooded terraces below us and tightly clustered houses in Dong villages. The new road to the Dong village that we were to visit – Da Li village, Zai Ma township - see on map, Rongjiang county – was quite narrow, windy and steep. We climbed almost to the top of the ridge of mountains before dropping down to the village, about 25 km from Rongjiang, which was tightly clustered at the base of a high valley with a stream running through it.

The village has five covered bridges with the oldest being from the Qing dynasty. The bridges are known as ‘flower bridges’ as they fan out like a flower. There are 100 households of over 1,000 people. The drum tower of the village was being rebuilt after having been destroyed by fire. The village has the reputation of being one of the most beautiful of the Dong villages.

We were greeted by a group of women dressed in their festival costume (similar to that worn in San Bao the day before). They were waiting for us at the end of one of the covered bridges from where, to our left as we crossed, we could see the oldest (Qing) bridge. The women sang a song of welcome and we were offered a drink of alcohol and some spicy fish. (I managed to avoid the latter!) I took photos of the Qing bridge. We made our way through the village to the Qing bridge and went across it into the oldest house in the village which had a central enclosed courtyard going up several stories to the roof. The women gathered here and started to sing songs and three or four were working on stitching in-soles for shoes and one was working on a knee braid loom to create supplementary warp-faced braid. I managed later to buy a similar loom. After the girls had sung, a group of men gathered behind us and sang and then joined the women for a song – which was excellent. The Dong singing is very powerful.

After the singing some of our group went to see some weaving but I stayed behind and bought a lovely two-piece baby hat which I had seen being examined by one of the singers. It has a square of hand woven cloth with black-work embroidery which is worn over the head and then an embroidered open ‘crown’ is fitted over this square.

I then went up to where the new Drum tower was being constructed. Some villagers had laid out textiles for us to buy. I bought an oldish embroidered baby carrier. I bought a pieces of weaving in various colours which the old lady indicated was for the bottom of something worn on the legs – possibly trousers or leg wrappers. I bought an older head cloth from an old man and a newer and cleaner one from a woman. I wanted a braid loom as did Gina. The local guide and the head man of the village sent out for some looms for us and several came back. We paid the asking price without any bargaining. On the way out of the village I saw the woman who had been demonstrating weaving earlier to the others in a house near the covered bridge at the entrance to the village. Generally the people in Da Li village were very welcoming and friendly despite the new road having opened up the village to tourists. It was a very enjoyable visit. top

Da Li village, Zai Ma township, Rongjiang county

Photogallery in progress

A gallery of photos taken on 16 May in the Dong village of Da Li, Zai Ma township, Rongjiang county, Guizhou province.  A new road has been constructed to the village. It has five covered bridges with the oldest being from the Qing dynasty. The bridges are known as 'flower bridges' as they fan out like a flower.

all text and images © Pamela A Cross top

Collectedn in the Dong village of Da Li, Zai Ma township, Rongjiang county, Guizhou province: baby hat; baby carrier; piece of supplementary weft weaving;older head cloth; newer head cloth; braid loom used over the knees.

We drove back to Rongjiang for lunch which we had at a local restaurant. The food was very tasty (and the restaurant had a pretty decent loo). As we waited for our meal to arrive we watched quite a large funeral procession passing below.

After lunch we set off for Congjiang which should have taken us 2 ½ hours on a new road. However, after about an hour we had a burst tyre. The bus driver brought the bus to a halt safely. Some of us ‘walked on’ in the hot sun having been told by Xiao Wang that it would take about 20-30 minutes to change the tyre. As it happened, the driver needed assistance from a village as it was not possible to get the wheel off unaided. Apparently it took a fair bit of money to get the garage man to turn out. We walked to a small logging hamlet where we stopped for an ice cream and then tea. It was about 1 ½ hours before the bus finally caught up with us.

After we got going again we had a photo-stop further along the road for a Dong village tucked in the river valley. We arrived about 5.30 at the Dianli Hotel in Congjiang - see on map - (which is on the Duliu jiang (river)). There were three rooms with western loos which were generally allocated by chance. I did not get one. The air conditioning in my room seemed to work OK although this was not the case in a couple of other rooms. My water heater/cooler did not work but I got hot water in a flask. I killed a couple of spiders and a cockroach. We had dinner at the hotel. The hotel is very busy. It is the only one with air conditioning in town so is used by local party officials. Towards the end of dinner there was a power cut. The electricity came on after about 20 minutes. I went back to my room to sort things out. top

Tuesday 17 May - Congjiang

I had a reasonable (and cool) night. With the air conditioning on I needed a cover for my head. I took some washing to hand in before breakfast. We left at 9.00 a.m. to go to a newly opened up Dong village Yin Tang village, Gu Ping township, Congjiang county. The village has a population of 1,700 people. We reached the village on a newly made-up road. About 1.0 million (Yuan?) has been invested in the infrastructure of the village in the last couple of years by the provincial government under ‘tourism in the countryside’. As we travelled to the village there was heavy rain which cleared up by the time we arrived and it was then a clear, sunny day. We had to climb high up to the top of the mountain to get to the village through stunning scenery. We then went down into a valley with a stream running through it around which were clustered the Dong wooden houses.

The village had two drum towers which were around 150 years old. We were met at the entrance to the village by a group of girls and a smaller group of boys who sang a welcome. We were offered a sip of alcohol and led into the village by the boys and girls to the largest of the drum towers. There was then a long performance of dancing and lots of singing in front of it. There was a demonstration of a range of stages of weaving from ginning and spinning to weaving. The thread was wet and beaten and re-rolled onto spindles from bell cones of bamboo to straighten it. The headman of the village was the school master and he had the dancers very well organised and on a tight reign. There were more dances and one that our group had to join. There was a mock wedding with the three men in our party. I missed this as I was sitting at the side of the square in the shade.

We then saw how indigo cloth was beaten to strengthen it and to give it a shine. Several of us bought a metre of the diamond-weave cloth at 15 Yuan a metre. (I gather that there was some fuss at one stage about the purchase.)

Although we saw this traditional indigo dyed, hand woven, cotton cloth in the village the Dong girl dancers’ pleated bronze shiny short skirts were made from synthetic fabric – a gauze type of cloth – as were their leggings. Many of the women’s ordinary clothes, made in traditional styles, were also made from synthetic fabrics.

We were able to wander around the village for about 45 minutes before lunch. I found a couple of weavers weaving a twill weave in natural cotton thread. I went into one house and photographed the weaver and two other women – one quite old and the other younger. I went and had a look a the second drum tower which had more ornate animals at the corners of the roofs. I photographed various items of clothing drying on lines and saw women doing their laundry in the stream and a man grinding a small metal rod/pipe. It was very quiet with the life of the village going on around me. The people were very gracious and welcoming.

We had lunch in the upstairs of a newly built guest house. We had a very short time to look a little more around the village and to wander about. I found a woman with a baby in a baby carrier on her back. She was dropping ducklings into the stream from a basket. She would not let me photograph the old baby carrier she was originally wearing but insisted on going into her house and bringing out a new one putting the baby in it.

I wanted to buy a back weight for an apron similar to one that Shelagh had bought in the village. I was dragged away by a woman to a house up the hillside – she wanted Y200 (£13.33) for it. Shelagh had paid Y2 for hers! I paid up as time was running out! It is quite a small weight. top

Yin Tang village, Gu Ping township, Congjiang county

Photogallery in progress

A gallery of photos taken on 17 May in the newly opened up Dong village of Yin Tang, Gu Ping township, Congjiang county, Guizhou province. 

all text and images © Pamela A Cross top

Collected in Dong village of Yin Tang, Gu Ping township, Congjiang county, Guizhou province: 1 metre of beaten indigo diamond weave cotton fabric; onewhite metal back weight for an apron.

On the way out to the bus we heard a woman weaving in the upstairs of a house and went up to see her. I could have bought a weight from her! She was weaving a nice twill weave. We stopped to photograph the village on the way out of it.

We had voted to go to a Miao village in the afternoon which was not included in our tour rather than spend longer in the Dong village of Yin Tang. We set off for the Miao village of Ba Sha, Cheng Guan township, Congjiang county which is sometimes also known as Biasha village). We again drove off the main road on a relatively new road and climbed high up. We reached the village which is inhabited by two different Miao groups on each side of the road.

Xiao Wang negotiated with the head man (or head of the dance troupe) of one Miao group a village entry fee of Y12 (up from Y10 on Xiao Wang’s previous visit). The man then led us down one side of the hill to his house where his wife showed us some of her textile techniques and clothes. This was a side of the hill that Gina and Xiao Wang had not previously visited. It seemed a long way down the hillside in the heat on newly laid stone steps to the head man’s house. Clearly money from the village entrance fees was being invested back into improving the village facilities.

This Miao group has a band of resist at the bottom of their skirts. It is created with the resin of a maple tree rather than bees wax and a curved fine sliver of bamboo is used to apply the resin rather than a form of wax knife. We saw a newly finished, pleated skirt wound up into a roll and then one in the process of being gathered to create the fine pleating where the indigo fabric had been treated with egg white to make it shiny. We saw a lump of the maple resin and the bamboo sliver for applying the wax. We were then shown some chain stitch embroidery. top

Ba Sha village, Cheng Guan township, Congjiang county

Photogallery in progress

A gallery of photos taken on 17 May in the Miao village of Ba Sha, Cheng Guan township, Congjiang county, Guizhou province.  The village is also referred to as Baisha. There are two Miao villages on either side of the road.

all text and images © Pamela A Cross top

Collected in the Miao village of Ba Sha (Baisha), Cheng Guan township, Congjiang county, Guizhou province: an indigo square where the embroidery design had been started although I had initially failed in a draw for this and a finished square of embroidery). I also bought a back sash/tie of four embroidered and appliquéd ‘dongles’ which is worn by a man and hangs over his trousers at the back. We saw a purse with similar dongles.

There were some lovely baskets in the house. The Miao man put on his hunting gun, a powder horn, gourd for holding shot and a rice lunch basket to pose for photos for us. Gina gave the woman some money from the tips for her demonstration. We then started climbing back out of the valley. We met school children returning home from school as we climbed. We were very hot and tired when we got to the top and had cool (tinned coconut) drinks. We then looked at an exhibit of photos and climbed up to the veranda of the shop/exhibition area which gave a stunning view of the surrounding countryside.

Many of the male Miao that we saw in Ba Sha – men and boys - still wore the traditional hair style of shaved head and central topknot of long hair.

We got back to the hotel about 5.00 p.m. for supper at 6.30. I managed to rescue my washing from drying on the roof. The girl would not let me pay for doing the laundry. After supper we had a talk on the Dong things that we had bought. top

Wednesday 18 May - Congjiang

There were storms with thunder and lightening and it poured with rain all night carrying on into the morning. Today a group of Miao who live in a distant village were due to walk down from their village high in the mountains to come to meet us. The distance from their village to the meeting point with us was said to be a three hour walk. Many Miao live in area, but even higher up the mountains than the Dong, who live in the river valleys. The Dong are an indigenous population whilst the Miao migrated to the region much later from the Yellow River area. The late-comers, the Miao, had to take the only available land that was high in the mountains.

It was felt that the Miao villagers would not set off to meet us in the bad weather. It was discussed whether we should go to another village in the morning but that would have been down a difficult road for the bus to negotiate. It was decided to stay at the hotel and see if the weather eased. Xiao Wang gave us a talk about change in China as it had taken place in his lifetime which he described through the lives of his parents.

It continued to be uncertain whether the Miao villagers would set off but, as they were being paid a considerable sum of money to come, there was hope that they would make the effort to get to us. By the time we sat down to our lunch we heard that they had set off and had been seen along the way. (My stomach had turned more fluid in the night and into the day. I took, in the end, three Imodium.)

We set off at 1.30 and it was just spitting with rain. The Duliu river was in full spate and was much more orange from the silt it was carrying. We went through the same fantastic scenery as the day before. The sky was lowering but the rain was just holding off. When we got to the turn off for the Dong village of Yin Tang the bus slowed as if it was looking for a place and people. We went past a place where clearly they had been expecting to see the Miao. However, down a hill and at a bend in the road where it crossed a stream was practically a whole village of Miao (from San Gang village, Gu Ping township, Congjian county). They, apparently, had arrived about 20 minutes before and had started to change their clothes into their festival finery which they had carried in bags to the meeting point.

It was fascinating watching them getting dressed up, especially the boys/young men. They were dressed into a splendid bird-like triangular ‘tail’ of embroidered shiny indigo with chicken feathers over a doubled over large triangle of shiny indigo cloth on top of their shiny indigo jackets and trousers. The girls were putting on long leggings of shiny indigo cloth with embroidery and applied pieces of decorative weaving and various skirts and embroidered jackets. When they had all dressed up in their festival clothes we were told to get into the bus and we were driven back up the hill and around several bends until we came to where there was a rice terrace which provided a natural dance floor – if rather uneven with the old tussocks of cut rice.

We waited and then, behind a young man carrying and waiving a banner and streamers on the top of a tall bamboo pole, the musicians and dancers followed by the rest of the village streamed up the hill and onto the rice terrace. There were two very deep sounding wind instruments, matang, as well as several lusheng pipes all adorned with white chicken feathers. The lusheng dance and movements of the dancers seemed to imitate birds as they swooped, rose and fell. After two or three dances Xiao Wang said that this had better be enough as he wanted the villagers to be able to get back home before dark. There was a group photo and then we were told that we could buy textiles. As these were all being worn by the dancers it was rather embarrassing. I helped Danny bid for a pair of man’s cuffs and bid for leggings for Celia and myself. I bought a front skirt/apron of resist and a lovely child’s jacket (probably a girl’s) which Shelagh had spotted for me.

The villagers changed out of their festival clothing which went into bags to be carried on sticks over their shoulders for the three-hour walk back home to their village.

San Gang village, Gu Ping township, Congjiang county

Photogallery in progress

A gallery of photos taken on 18 May showing the Miao villagers of San Gang village, Gu Ping township, Congjiang county, Guizhou province dressing in their festival costume and perfoming music and dancing.

all text and images © Pamela A Cross top

Collected from the Miao villagers of San Gang village, Gu Ping township, Congjiang county, Guizhou province: Girl’s leggings; front woman’s skirt/apron with resist panels; child’s jacket with resist and weaving panels; woman’s top bib/apron with resist, embroidery and applied weaving panels.

It was a fantastic experience and we were so fortunate that the rain just held off although the light was quite low. We then drove through the wonderful scenery back to Congjiang.

On our return to the hotel a few of us went to Gina and Peter’s room to see the two complete festival outfits which Gina had bought from the Miao from San Gang village – a man and a woman’s plus a baby carrier which looked very Dong influenced.

After dinner Shelagh, Celia and I went for a walk across the bridge to see a braid shop that Liz and Jenny had found. I bought a metre of each of two braids similar to one that I had seen on a baby hat. It cost Y3 a metre = Y6. Shelagh left us to go back to the hotel as she was very tired. It felt quite a bit cooler out than during the previous few days. top

Thursday 19 May - Congjiang / Zhaoxing

We started out a bit later than planned as breakfast was delayed. It had again been thunder and lightening overnight with pouring rain. Almost immediately after we left the hotel the bus came to a halt and the engine died, however, the driver managed to fix it. The river was very swollen and orange with strong currents. About two-thirds of the way we had to stop to fix a tyre which was going flat. We arrived in the large Dong village/town of Zhaoxing - see on map, Liping county for a late lunch at the Zhaoxing Guest House which was newly built in the style of the local Dong houses. (There were no en-suite facilities but one toilet to a floor and two showers (one for men and one for women) on the ground floor). Zhaoxing has 1,000 households.

After lunch we were rushed out to go to an ecotourism Dong village funded by the Norwegians and Chinese government trying to develop the village and tourism without destroying the character of the village – Tang An village, Zhaoxing township, Liping county. Tang An was chosen as it is remote and has superb vernacular architecture which includes typical Dong houses, a drum tower, a spring and a pathway of stone steps leading up through the village to the terraced fields which overlook the tranquil scene. The Norwegians have encouraged the villagers to save old farming and textile machinery and tools and preserve them in a small museum, which they have helped them to fund. The initiative was to empower the Dong people to value and preserve their own ancient skills and culture and not just sell objects to the highest bidder. This has happened in nearby Zhaoxing. A small guesthouse sympathetic to the local architectural traditions has also been built in Tang An and supervised by the Norwegians.

There was striking rice-terrace scenery on the way up to the village which was quite high up the mountain. We walked for about half an hour as a new road to the village was still being built and the rock/slate boulders/chips would have cut the bus tyres. It was superb scenery but the clouds were very low and it was misty. top

Tang An village, Zhaoxing township, Liping county

Photogallery in progress

A gallery of photos taken on 19 May showing in the Dong ecotourism village of Tang An village, Zhaoxing township, Liping county, Guizhou province. The village is funded by the Norweigians and the Chinese government who are trying to develop the village and tourism without destroying the character of the village.

all text and images © Pamela A Cross top

We came back to Zhaoxing about 5.00 p.m. and were able to have a look around the town. It was annoying to be pestered by the old women traders at almost every turn. They were selling mainly textiles. Back at the guest house I came down to get a flask of hot water and found Gina looking at some textile pieces. I joined her. See list of textiles bought mainly from the woman who was running the guest house and her mother. I saw a woven head cloth similar to one in my collection and was shown how it was worn. I saw embroidery as used on old Dong baby carriers still being stitched (by the mother of the woman managing the guesthouse). All were said to be local to Zhaoxing. I also saw in the town weaving which was similar to that on an old bag which I had bought from John Gillow and which he had thought was Dong. top

Zhaoxing village/town, Liping county

Photogallery in progress

A gallery of photos taken on 19 May in the large Dong village/town of Zhaoxing, Liping county, Guizhou province. It has 1,000 households.

all text and images © Pamela A Cross top

Collected in the Dong village/town of Zhaoxing, Liping county, Guizhou province: plain blue weave head cloth; colour patterned woven head cloth; baby carrier; piece of embroidery for a bag; small piece of old embroidery; piece of new embroidery (for top piece of a baby carrier).

We had supper about 6.30. It was Vera’s birthday and we had a cake. We had also bought her a bottle of Mai Tai. At 8.00 we were ‘fetched’ by a Dong song and dance troupe and taken to the meeting area in front of a Drum tower where they gave us a very good performance of singing and dancing. Their costumes were well made in the traditional style.top

Friday 20 May - Zhaoxing / Longshen

The doors of the bedrooms made very loud and extended creaking noises which made it rather embarrassing getting up in the night. Otherwise it was a reasonable night. I woke early at about 5.30 a.m. and got up at 6.00 to go down and have a shower.

It was a good breakfast with a ‘just right’ fried egg, banana and banana fritter and plenty of hot tea. The old women outside were just as much of a menace as the day before pestering us with their wares.

It was a long and very bumpy drive to San Jiang, Guangxi Autonomous region, for lunch. It was a dry and dusty town. We had some more tyre problems en-route which was not surprising given the bad roads. From San Jiang - see on map - the road was worse because a new road was being built all the way along almost to Longshen. The whole road from Congjiang was difficult because of mud slides and rock falls caused by the heavy rain. It was a further one hour from Longshen - see on map - to the Hot Springs Hotel which, in the Chinese context, was very up-market. Both Shelagh and I bought swimming costumes – Y130 for the two. I had a soak in the hot springs and then a bathe in the pool before returning to the hotel. It was a rush to get down for dinner and we were late. Gina took the tip money.

All day my allergic reaction on my face (to an over ripe mango) had been getting worse with the rash spreading and also swelling particularly on the left side of my face and possibly around my ankles – although this latter could have been something that I ‘picked up’! top

Saturday 21 May - Longshen / Guilin

We left the hot springs about 9.30 a.m. and set off towards Guilin. We had insisted that we left the hotel in good time and did not opt for further soaking in the hot springs as we wanted to have some time in Guilin so that we could wander around the town and not be in a mad rush. Although it had been in the itinerary to walk along the Longshen rice terraces it was decided that there was not time for this and most of us were not fit enough to make the walk – which was a disappointment as photographs indicate that the terraces are stunning scenery.

My rash was worse – angry, swollen and hot with blisters forming.

We had quite a tasty lunch at a truckers’ café and took some photos of Effie – Effie for Efficient (Ms Wang He-ting) who was leaving us as soon as we reached Guilin to travel back by road to Guiyang in the bus with the driver plus the luggage van. We arrived at our hotel in Guilin, the 4* Guihu Hotel, at about 3.00 p.m. We checked into our rooms. Shelagh gave me some steroid tablets – prednisone – to take 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 as my rash had spread to around my left ear and was very hot.

Shelagh, Celia, Vera and I caught a taxi to the Nikko Nikko department store. Shelagh wanted a ‘proper’ battery for her camera. She got a battery charger and a chargeable battery and another tape for her video camera. Celia bought a new red leather handbag. We got caught in a thunderstorm with torrential rain and sheltered with some university biology students under their small marquee in the street.

We set off trying to find a somewhere that Shelagh could get her digital photos transferred from memory cards to CD. This search led us to a pedestrian area with lots of small shops. We went into a jade shop and I got a good luck charm of macramé and semi-precious stones for Shelagh (Y50). We found a shop of ethnic handicrafts which were presented in a very tasteful ‘fusion’ style. We all liked the shop very much. They have another outlet in Yangshuo (down the Li river from Guilin at the end of the boat trips).

I bought a white metal choker and a Miao white metal chased circle pendant, two scarves in silk and a bag for Mummy.

They directed us back to the photo shop which we had missed and gone past. There they transferred Shelagh’s photos to CD as we waited – sitting in chairs and sipping cold water! They then directed us to a taxi rank and we got back to the hotel at 6.30. We then ended up buying some ‘chops’ by the lifts. Mine was carved wood and with my western name. We then rushed up to shower and change before dinner at 7.00. After dinner at the hotel we called in the hotel shop and I got a set of postcards before going upstairs to pack – I felt so hot! top

Sunday 22 May - Guilin / Beijing

Had a reasonable breakfast and then was down ready for departure at 8.15 for the boat for the Li river trip. All our luggage had to be down as it would go direct to the airport to meet us there at the end of the afternoon.

We were lucky indeed with the weather for the trip. The river was full and running fast. We had seats on the top deck and were able to go out and stand on the roof – fighting off the French women for viewing space!

The Li river runs through outstanding karst limestone scenery with steep gorges and contrasting swaying green bamboo stands. It did not disappoint and was a super trip! We saw some cormorants including a couple in boats with fishermen. We had lunch about 10.50! As we arrived at Yangshuo it started to rain.

Yangshou is known as one of the outstanding antique markets in China. It is also well-known for its good copies of valuable antiques. We came off the boat and into the pedestrian precinct of shops, many of which looked very interesting. We were taken to Yin Xiang Folk Handicrafts product shop which had been recommended to Gina for textiles.

Collected: a baby carrier reputedly from Sanjiang and a baby carrier piece reputedly from Yongshua; a Dong white metal back weight for an apron.

It was raining when we came out of the shop. We walked nearly to the end of the pedestrian precinct and waited by the subway for Peter who got separated from us. There was ‘fisherman’ wearing a fibre rain cape and with four cormorants sitting on a pole. We caught the open bus-cars to the coach park where our bus was waiting. We then drove back to Guilin for about an hour – the views of the karst outcrops were very good and striking. We were then taken to a pearl showroom and sw how south-sea pearls were formed and how to tell the real from fakes.

I bought a pinkish mauve freshwater pearl necklace for myself and a simple strand of chased silver with individual pinkish-mauve pearls for Mum.

We were then taken to a teahouse and shown how to make three sorts of tea and tasted them. Also tried some, mostly good, sweets from rose, ginger, strawberry etc. We then had to rush to have dinner and then drive for at least half an hour to the airport. We said goodbye to Gina and Shelagh who were returning to Kaili. Joyce and David caught an earlier ‘plane to X’ian.

It was an OK flight to Beijing where we were met by a local guide and taken by bus to our hotel, again the Jianguo Garden Hotel, and checked in. I sorted myself out before settling down. top

Monday 23 May - Beijing / Frankfurt/London

It seemed to be a very short night! I thought that I had plenty of time for breakfast but found that Peter and Celia wanted to leave 15 minutes earlier than agreed the previous night to go to the silk market. We waited 15 minutes for a taxi outside the hotel to go to ‘Silk Street’ and, in the end, went out into the side road to try and (successfully) catch a taxi. He took us a roundabout route to go with the correct flow of the traffic. We gave ourselves 30 minutes and I went through each of the four floors to see what was there. There were a lot of non-silk items. There were fabrics and scarves on the third floor and watches on the fourth floor.

I bought a scarf for Sam and a watch for gardening etc.

We caught a taxi and arrived back at the hotel very quickly. It would have been quite a long walk from the hotel (20 minutes after turning left from the front of the Jianguo Garden Hotel to “Silk Street” – a four-storey building).

The guide turned up for 10.45 and Vera finally made it back about 11.05. We were taken by bus with luggage for an excellent lunch and then on to the airport. We felt that we were cutting it fine for getting our preferred seats! I got an aisle seat – right at the back of the ‘plane by the loos and the seat did not recline very far back.

The flight London Heathrow was via Frankfurt on Air China and Lufthansa arriving in London later that day. It seemed a long and tedious wait in Frankfurt for the Lufthansa connecting flight to London. top

Beijing | Guiyang | Kaili | Sandu | Rongjiang | Congjiang | Zhaoxing | Longshen | Guilin | Beijing

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this page last updated 26 October, 2013