Leah Sprague (14), her mom Stowe, her brother Nathan (12), and her sister Martha (9).
The Sprague family spent one week in Guizhou and Guangxi during the March break. They booked the travel package with their go-to service travel service TUI China (www.tui.cn). The Spragues started at the Yangshuo Mountain Retreat (www.yangshuomountainretreat.com), where they saw a nighttime performance, toured villages on bike, and went on a bamboo raft ride. After that, the family worked their way through northeast Guangxi and ended up in Guiyang, Guangxi’s capital. They had a guide in Guangxi and another in Guizhou.
The entire package cost RMB 34,900 and included a full-time Englishspeaking guide, a driver with a van, all admission fees, hotels and village inns (with breakfast), and airfare with Air China. Lunches, dinners, tips, and the Yangshuo show were extra.
The Best Part
The Sprague’s favorite villages include Zhaoxing (Dong), Biasha (Miao), Datang (Dong), Xijiang (Miao), Tianlong for the Ground Opera (a style of masked opera that was performed by the military during the Ming Dynasy), and Shiqiao for its ancient papermaking.
The best part was breaking away from the hordes of Western tourists and discovering the daily lives of the different minorities at each of the villages. The Spragues saw a father give a traditional haircut to his son with a scythe in the Miao village of Biasha, a man build a coffin for an elder villager, and saw how a traveling salesman would pitch new kitchen appliances in Leli Village.
Leah and her family particularly enjoyed the welcoming ceremony of Datang’s Miao people, whose women are famous for their 10cm mini-skirts. It is a thrill to see the villagers greet visitors at the gate, offer them multiple cups of rice wine, and then give an hour-long song and dance performance.
The Worst Part
It was rainy or overcast almost every day in Guizhou, except for the very last day. It made visiting villages less interesting when the locals stayed inside with the doors closed. Also, driving so much made the trip a little tiring; it was generally one to two hours between each village.
There were many unexpected moments during the trip. For example, one family in Zhaoxing Village threw a huge feast in front of the drum tower to celebrate their son’s first 100 days. All their clan members stood at long tables stacked with food and gobbled it up within 15 minutes. There were fireworks and the local kids had a great time running around. Guests gave bottles of liquor and received uncooked and glutinous rice in return – which they stored in the baskets they brought.