After driving through beautiful, almost empty valleys with rice paddies and photogenic villages, our arrival at the entrance of Xijiang village was almost a shock. A big parking lot was full of cars and tour buses, there were all kinds of amenities, and we saw the inevitable groups of Chinese tourists with a flags sticking out of the crowd, pointing us to the guide of the group. It took some time for our driver to buy tickets, and when we entered through the main gate, greeted by a Miao woman dressed up for the occasion and welcoming us in fluent English, we were not sure we would spend much time here. We also wondered why we had not chosen to visit more typical places in this same region, like some of the villages we had seen on our way to Xijiang.
But we were here anyway, and decided to make the best of it. When the driver proposed to meet again after 3 hours, it seemed like way too long. Then again, we decided to go in search of the authentic areas of Xijiang that we believed we would still be able to find. We set off along the river, saw some traditionally dressed Miao women - to realize that they were tourists dressed up like Miaos. We crossed one of the wooden bridges, and walked up the hill on the other side. From various spots, we had great views over the valley below, and the traditional houses of Xijiang sprawling over the hill on the other side of the valley.
We walked towards the south, saw a group of men working on the roof of what was not more than a wooden frame of a house, and climbed a little more to get an even better view of Xijiang. After we got down to the river, it was hard to resist the temptation to walk into the beautiful valley outside Xijiang, which looked so peaceful with rice terraces, women working the fields, and afternoon light falling into the valley. Instead, we walked up into Xijiang itself, and discovered, just as we had hoped, that the backstreets were probably still very much like they had been for centuries. When we crossed a small area with rice terraces, from below three Miao women dressed up with their amazing silvery jewelry and enormous headdress came walking up in the late afternoon sun. A little while later, we were down at the riverfront again, and saw the performance of Miao dance and singing organized twice a day. Despite the touristy setting, an good display of the fantastic costumes and decorations of the Miao. It was a worthy end of our visit to Xijiang.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Xijiang (). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Xijiang.
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