Guangxi is an autonomous region of the People’s Republic of China, located in South China and bordering Vietnam. this province is covered by small mountains with a dense vegetation. The capital of Guangxi is Nanning, located in the south of the province, close to the Vietnam border.
Guangxi contains the largest population of China’s ethnic minorities, in particular the Zhuang people who make up 32% of the population. Various regional languages and dialects such as Pinghua, Zhuang, Cantonese, Hakka and Min are spoken alongside Mandarin Chinese.
I have been to Guangxi province for about 10 times (mainly in Liuzhou). My first trip in this province was in summer 2005. At that time I went to very touristic areas such as Guilin and Yuangshuo. I will do a post about this trip and others, but today I want to introduce you different locations, unknown from Westerners and even from Chinese living in another provinces. The visitors I have seen there were local people only.
This time, I have been invited to 2 different locations to investigate for a hotel project and I went there with my wife and 2 friends of her from Liuzhou. My wife spent most of her childhood in Liuzhou and kept contact with her friends there. We took a car all together from Liuzhou, where we spent about a week after a trip in Thailand.
Buyang, a remote village in the tea fields (广西三江侗族布央茶园)
Half hour before arriving, a widing road drove us into the mountains, the temperatures were fresh and I felt so comfortable after the stifling heat down the valley. The small village is above the surronding plains. Tea fields circles the small houses stuck one to other. This village hold very old traditionnal wooden houses among recent ones, made by concrete with their cubic shape, the same we find everywhere in China countryside. The difference here is their walls are painted in brown with wooden pattern and from several meters it’s not easy to distinguish the recent from the new ones. In the East side of the village they build new houses but in wood and in a traditionnal style, they looks really beautiful.
At the end of the afternoon, we have been invited by villagers and went to their traditionnal house. Inside, it was quite dark, our feet adapts to the uneven ground in dirt floor. The entire house is made with wood material, instead of the roof made by tiles. After a steep and narrow staircase, we reached the first floor and we can felt the wooden floor moving under our feet and heard creaking sounds. The house seems to be living. I passed by a corridor, with wide frames giving an overview of the village, before sitting in their living area. After some talks, they started to play music with hand made instruments and sing in their own dialect. Indeed, they are belonging to the Dong ethnic minority. They learnt music with their parents and grand parents, and the art of those traditional songs and the know-how to build those instruments is teached from generation to generation. It was already dark outside, we shared some food and they set up a fire in the middle of the living room. Happy faces illuminated the space. It was time to come back home, we felt tired by the trip but light hearted by this authentic and amazing experience.
We slept in a recent wooden house offering an amazing view of the mountains. It was so great to sleep in such a quiet place.
I woke up early to catch the sunrise (it’s the first photo on the video above). After a good breakfast (eggs, local puffed rice and tea), I walked in the tea fields with my wife and her friends, a good time for shooting and chill a bit. Then it was time to take the road for our next destination: Danzhou (丹洲).
Danzhou, the island village (丹洲)
Danzhou is a small village located in a peaceful tiny island where the time slow down. The charm of taking a boat to reach the village is quite noticeable. Unfortunately, the main old houses has been destroyed about 50 years ago because of the river flooding. Few old and charming houses left in this village and we are transported over time. Atmosphere is very peaceful, there is no car, few tourists and tree fiels and bamboo forest circle the village. Thanks to the river and the wind, the temperatures are comfortable at summer time.
Local food & streets
I was in this village during the pomelo season, so I’ve eaten a lot of this delicious fruit ! Pomelo juice contains a great amont of vitamin C, but also some vitamins B and A, as well as 90% of water, so it’s a great way to rehydrate our body. Best time to eat this fruit is after picking it in a tree and wait one or two days.
In the streets we find as well smoky duck, but to be honest I haven’t taste them. We can find chicken, they are all organic and they taste amazing in a soup with rice and local cooked vegetables.
Take a walk in Danzhou’s streets is something very pleasant. There is no cars, streets are quiet, villagers are very kind. This general atmosphere transported me back in time or maybe like in a movie set with a traditional chinese background.
In most of the houses, I saw a lot of Mao’s posters, like we are still in this period.
Morning shooting session
We spent a night here. I took few shots at evening time and went slept early. The morning we woke up with the sunrise and went shooting without taking our breakfast to win time. We randomly found nice spots and took architecture and portraits of ourselves. Light was beautiful and streets empty, it was absolutely amazing to shoot in this place! I took fun as well of doing the model. If I was working for a fashion company doing clothes in cotton or linen for instance, I will definiteley come here to shoot.