Guizhou of Southwest China has long been remote, stagnant and backward, however, unspoiled by tourism development as seen in surrounding provinces such as Guangxi, Yunnan and Sichuan. Its relative isolation has made the region one of the best kept secrets in China; its stunning landscape, characterized by limestone karst hills, jagged peaks and terraced rice fields, as well as its colorful ethnic minority cultures that have made Guizhou a paradise for anthropologists, photographers and adventurous travelers.
This trip offers two distinct sides of West Hunan Province--the beautiful landscape in the nature reservation of Zhangjiajie, the clear waters of Mengdong River and mountains and valleyes of Dehang; and the traditional township of Fenghuang (Phoenix Town), and remote Huoluping Village hidden on the mountains where it is not discovered by tourists and the Miao ethnic minority's life and culture are still unchanged.
Zhangjiajie (Wulingyuan Scenic Area)
Listed as UNESCO's World Heritage Site in 1992, this scenic area is made up of three adjoining subtropical parklands, with quartzite sandstone peaks and pillars to rival Guilin's scenery. There are plentiful rare plants and insects, swarms of butterflies, a large cave with calcite deposits, and stunning views through bamboo, pine, and oak forest.
"A spectacular area stretching over more than 26,000 hectares in China's Hunan Province, the site is distinguished by more than 3,000 narrow sandstone pillars and peaks, many over 200 metres high. Between the peaks lie ravines and gorges with streams, pools and waterfalls, some 40 caves, as well as two large natural bridges. In addition to the striking beauty of its landscape, the region is also noted for the fact that it shelters a number of endangered plant and animal species." (Description from UNESCO's World Heritage List)
Phoenix Town (Fenghuang Cheng)
It is a township of mystery, elegance and primitive simplicity. The bridges over the water and unique houses built on stilts display a harmony that is so often portrayed in traditional Chinese paintings. Tuojiang River runs through the town. Typical high gabled wooden houses are built on stilts along its banks at close quarters. (View photos). The majority of the residents are Tujia & Miao ethnic groups. Their lifestyle remains reasonably traditional. The old town is very pretty at night when all architecture by the river light up.
Further driving from the gradually touristy Phoenix Town, up and up the mountains with layers of rice terraces, there lies a miao village that CCC first discovered and brought its first group of visitors there. Hidden behind the high mountains and valley, Huoluping is completely authentic. The Miao people's life is still unchanged. The local farmers' market is fascinating.