Sam's Exotic Travels to Guizhou Province, China

I was the guest of the Province of Guizhou for the 2012 FAPA Director's Meeting and the Federation of Asian Photographic Art.  The meeting was held in Taijang, and we did a tour afterwards of mostly Miao and Dong nationality villages throughout Southeast Guizhou Province.  As one of almost 3,000 attendees to the Director's Meeting, it was an immense undertaking.  It was mot enjoyable.

While it was interesting to see the village life in the various places we visited and the warm people close up - the biggest impression I had was of the missing generation of people. There were children and grandparents everywhere we went - but very few parents. This is because parents are among the numerous migrant workers in China, who travel to where work can be found - and leave their children under the care of their parents and extended family, and who return home usually only once a year - over an extended Chinese New Year celebration.

According to

Guizhou (Kweichow) is a province of the People's Republic of China located in the southwestern part of the country. Its provincial capital city is Guiyang.  Guizhou adjoins Sichuan Province and Chongqing Municipality to the north, Yunnan Province to the west, Guangxi Province to the south and Hunan Province to the east. Overall Guizhou is a mountainous province however it is more hilly in the west while the eastern and southern portions are relatively flat. The western part of the province forms part of the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau.

Guizhou is a relatively poor and economically undeveloped province, but rich in natural, cultural and environmental resources. Its nominal GDP for 2011 was 570.18 billion yuan (90.5 billion USD). Its per capita GDP of 10,258 RMB (1,502 USD) ranks last in all of the PRC.

Its natural industry includes timber and forestry. Guizhou is also the third largest producer of tobacco in China, and home to the well-known brand Guizhou Tobacco. Other important industries in the province include energy (electricity generation) - a large portion of which is exported to Guangdong and other provinces - and mining, especially in coal, limestone, arsenic, gypsum, and oil shale.

Guizhou Province is highlighted on this map of China  Covered Bridge, Xijang Miao Village, Guizhou Province, China  Night view of Hongfu Temple reflected in the Wu River. Guiyang, Guizhou Province PRC

While Wikipedia says that Guizhou is one - if not the poorest - of China's Provinces.  This is definitely not true. Guiyang, the capital, is currently undergoing a building boom.  While not on the same scale, all cities we traveled through also had new city centers and high rise residential construction. 

Highways and roads were almost all paved (except in the far SE mountainous area, where major highway projects are currently under construction).  The toll road from far SE province back to Guiyang was indeed impressive.  With 30 - 40 (My rough estimate) of tunnels up to 1km in length, major bridges and overpasses spanning local villages, it equals or surpasses the US Interstate system - while cutting the mileage down from 400 to 300 kilometers for the journey.

Even in villages, houses were well constructed and it appears almost everyone has at least a refrigerator, TV and ample living space.  We saw no one in ragged clothes and no beggars throughout our extensive 9 day trek.   How much of this is due to the added income of their migrant workers is difficult to say.

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