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Bicycling to Zhaoxing


Zhaoxing is a little Dong village north west of Guilin in Guizhou province. It's the kind of village you would want to visit as a foreigner because there's a lot of tradition left. This story is about a bicycle ride I did in the wrong time of the year and still enjoyed what I did.

Zhaoxing Guizhou province in China
Zhaoxing in the rainy season, don't come here in June or July, it's very wet!
This photo is from my first visit in 1997

Zhaoxing is seldom visited by mainstream tourism, even now the roads are in good condition. It is for most people simply too far from everything else. However, it is worth to cycle here, as this is on route to either Kaili and Guiyang or Yunnan via the north or south route through Guizhou.

Zhaoxing

In 2001 I was back, now it was cooler and dry

This part of Guizhou is home to Dong, Miao and other minority people and Zhaoxing is one of the beautiful preserved Dong villages with several Dong Drum Towers and Wind Rain Bridges.

Zhaoxing town center
Bicycling to Zhaoxing: the town center

Zhaoxing Dong towerIt is a day's ride from Sanjiang to Zhaoxing, regardless your transport. There's a bus to Zhaoxing which takes a few hours, and cycling will take you a few hours more.

I left Chengyang Qiao early in the morning. It was about 21 km south to Sanjiang, a pleasant and mostly downhill road.

It was rainy season. Nowadays, 2011, the road is proper paved but during my second visit to Guizhou in 2002 on the bicycle it was for the most a pothole road.

In the rainy season the clouds can hang low which does not give much of a view of the area but the pothole road at the time was good enough (and flat enough) to make progress.

I just followed the G321. The problem I had was that my Nelles map was not very detailed. However, I had me a local made Chinese map of Guizhou which showed me a road through the mountains to Zhaoxing. I left G32 to find my way through the mountains (I skipped going to Congjiang which is the more common road). The map was clear enough. By now it was raining heavier and although the road was in good condition, it was also mountainous.

Zhaoxing Dong tower Zhaoxing market

At one moment, it seemed the road kept climbing and the road condition kept going worse. But right at the moment I felt it was enough I arrived at the pass and saw Zhaoxing.

Zhaoxing town center

The rain was now so heavy I didn't dare to get my camera to have some photos. Slipping and sliding I made it to the village where I found a little cozy guesthouse to clean myself and dry my dirty clothes.

Zhaoxing village

Zhaoxing Dong towerThe village had few modern buildings. Houses, drum towers and wind and rain bridges were primarily made of wood.

Many people were still wearing traditional Dong clothes. The market, though wet and muddy was located right in the center of the village offering the usual mix of food and hard wear.

On the street I see plenty of old women walking with enormous weights of wood on their back.

An little old woman tries to sell her few vegetables. Even if I am sitting I am taller then she is. Most likely her children work on the land and this way the old lady can be useful for the family. Remember, this is rural China.

A very well dressed man walks by but even though he has a clear white shirt and neat trousers, he wear old sandals and no socks. A few men are busy with a truck of flour.

Entrance ticket for Zhaoxing
Entrance ticket for Zhaoxing

The street is incredibly clean, not a twig is to be seen. I wonder where these people drop their garbage. When I reach the river I have the answer. It's a very gloomy day but through the rain I can see a few nice cars entering the village. Because of the rain I have left my camera in the hotel.

More spectacular rice terraces in Guizhou province

More spectacular rice terraces in the Guizhou mountains

Apparently the village is visited by some officials. The rain pours harder, I decide to find a meal and some dry clothes. Little will I know at that moment the next day I will cycle to Liping, most of the time wading in the mud. Cycling is not always easy but that is a complete different story.

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