Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou
Province, is a natural fortress. The capricious
weather and the hostile topography, giving Guiyang
the resemblance of a castle in the mist, seem
more at home in Transylvania. Few Han Chinese
even knew these strange lands existed before the
famed geographer Xu Xiake traveled here in 1636
as part of his 30-year trek exploring China's
sacred mountains (on foot and unescorted!) Again
and again he was confronted by "massive,
labyrinthine heaps of rock towering wavelike into
crests or busting out like petals, dizzying in
their effect as they jostle and surge toward the
"Imagine a series of quaintly
shaped hillocks littering a landscape that is
also pockmarked with deep depressions," explained
17th-century explorer Francis Garnier. "No
valleys or mountain ranges. No general sense of
direction. The streams flow to all points on the
compass. Every step would have led us up against
some impossible piece of terrain."
By that time the empire had relocated
so many eastern Chinese colonists to this unforgiving
land that the province's population had soared
from 65 to 150 million. A series of rebellions
was dealt with mercilessly by succeeding generations
of Tunpuren, or Han military colonists. Eighteen-thousand
Miao were killed in 1732, with almost the same
number executed and a similar amount enslaved.
More than 100 years later the scenario was repeated.
The governor of Guizhou wrote that the province
had lost nine-tenths of its entire population
in just 2 decades, either massacred or exiled
to the hills of northern Laos, Burma, and Thailand.
Guiyang remains an important strategic
possession in a land where even the locals claim
that there is "never three days of sun in
a row, never three acres of flat land and never
three people with any money." Despite some
development, Guizhou has remained an impoverished
backwater compared to its neighbors. Incomes and
literacy rates are well below the national averages,
and many villages still lack basic infrastructures
such as roads and electricity.
A closer look at the map reveals how
these proud, defiant peoples have been dominated
and humiliated by Chinese colonists. Name after
name stands out like marker flags on a campaign
plan: Anshun (Peace and Submission); Liping (Pacification
of the Li); Zhenyuan (Pacification of the Distant
Tribes); Guiding (Pacification of Guizhou); Luodian
(Extension of Imperial Power); and Kaili (Village
of the Victory Song).
As for the Han Chinese contribution,
Guiyang itself is a place many travelers can't
wait to get out of, if they make it here at all.
Today, gray, dreary buildings still dominate the
disarray of so-called development, staggering
to cope with its growing population of over a
million people. Happily for visitors interested
in exploring Guizhou's ethnic minority cultures,
having to stay over is not as dreaded as it once
was. The city is now an essential jumping-off
point to see autochthonous cultures, as different
to the Han Chinese as the Native Americans are
to the 21st-century descendants of their European
conquerors. With the building of new highways,
this transportation hub is an ideal base from
which to visit surrounding attractions like the
Huangguoshu Falls and Bouyi minority villages.
Yunnan is a perfect showpiece of China's
many natural wonders, rugged, wild, and unspoiled. The province
is famed for its multitude of ethnic groups, of China's fifty-five
officially recognized ethnic minorities, twenty-five can be
found in Yunnan. Here visitors could find snow-capped mountains,
mysterious deep valleys, peaceful highland lakes, magnificent
Karst hills, tropical rainforests, and torrential rivers.
As the capital of China, Beijing is the
political, cultural, and intellectual center of the country.
Beijing has so much to offer travelers. The celebrated tourist
center is filled with historical highlights, the most well known
ones are: Great Wall, Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Temple
of Heaven, Ming Tombs...
Tibet Autonomous Region, a mystical land
called "the Roof of the World", more than 50 peaks in this area
are higher than 7,000 meters, and 11 peaks exceed 8,000 meters.
Mt. Everest - the world's highest peak is located in Tibet.
Tibet offers fabulous things to see, including unique Buddhist
monastery, breathtaking high-altitude lakes, stunning views
of the snow mountains and brilliant Tibetan culture.