Locations: Xijiang, Guizhou, China (26° 30' 0" N, 108° 11' 0"E)
Date: 26 April 2005; 10.35am
Camera: EOS 300D with kit lens
Xijiang is a beautiful Miao village amongst the many remote villages of different ethnic minorities in Eastern Guizhou. It has beautiful old Miao houses on stilts clinging to mountainsides with hundreds of rice terraces around the hills nearby. The Miaos are very friendly people and so do not be surprised that you are invited for some merrying and drinking during dinners. This village used to be rather remote and need many local connections to get there. However recently I saw some photos of the village being decked up and most if not all the houses were lighted up like X’mas trees at night. Furthermore there are also dance performances for visitors. I could only guess that the village have discovered the economic benefits of tourism and is now firmly gearing itself towards the package groups, both domestically and internationally. There is actually nothing wrong with this - in fact it is good for the village and its inhabitants if the major chunk of money generated goes back to them. But unfortunately this is not normally the case. Furthermore such packaged program is not really an authentic experience for those looking for one. I guess this is probably something that Lonely Planet (or at least one of its contributing authors) would never understand when it commented that “…sure, some villages have found tourism big time (and you’ll hear incessant grousing about it from travellers, as if they weren’t tourists too)… “ (p673 of the current issue of “China” guide). This is also precisely the reason that often-referenced sites on self-travelling in China have changed their focus.