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Nestling at the tree-clad hills along the Hunan-Guangxi-Guizhou borders are numerous villages in which the Dong ethnic people dwell. These villages have been hailed as gems of authentic China and many travelers found their explorative request met at this part of China. I took this advice and headed for this reportedly unique region on this march.
The weather was not too pleasant with drizzle. The 10-hour bus journey from Guilin to Zhaoxing passed through beautiful terraced fields, rolling mountains and hillside ethnic villages, vibrant scenery. However, the highway is full of sharp turns and deep slopes. I would advice those who prone to carsickness not to take this route. In case it may spoil your next day’s trip.
We arrived at Zhaoxing at dusk and were greeted in the traditional manner by a group of young Dong girls outside the village. The dinner was what was called Bench Dinner by the locals and it's said the conventional dinner to treat guests. They had a long bench in the middle on which placed variety of food. Diners were seated along on small stools. Food served was mainly mutton, pickled vegetable. They were tasty.
We stayed at the Zhaoxing Hotel at the center of the village. It was the best hotel in the village but the facility may not rival those in bigger cities. Food option was quite limited and western cuisine was practically non-existed.
Zhaoxing is the largest Dong ethnic community in China with 5 drum towers, and more than 800 households. The town has been little touched by modernization, and its villagers live in their old timber-made houses, wear their traditional clothes and still practice their time-honored traditions. The village has a multitude of wooden structures, culminating at the drum towers, the flower bridges and its theater stages.
A river runs through the village and divides it into two sections. The water in the river is quite shallow and remarkably clear, with the rocks at the bottom clearly visible. Over centuries, the river has had a nurturing effect on the remarkable local culture. The locals can still be seen daily, clustered beside the river washing their rice, vegetables, and even their clothes. I saw small flea marketing where the locals were busy with the bargain hunt. Food, vegetables and daily necessities were on sale.
Zhaoxing is an interesting place and I hope I will return in the future.