Zhenyuan: Guizhou’s Eastern Gem

There’s nothing quite like sitting down to some tea after a productive day.  Guiyang saw sun and blue sky today for the first time in over a month and the whole city seemed uplifted.  The scooter ride to work had less honking than normal and it seemed that anyone who was able to, spent their day outside, soaking in the vitamin D!  Thursdays are my ‘get stuff done day’ though, so I spent most of my day indoors cleaning the teacher’s office, chatting with my fabulous coworkers and then teaching my  wonderful kindergarten students whom I love very much!

This little monkeys are my heroes :)  Not only are they a tonne of fun, but they are incredibly sweet too.  I went into a coughing fit today in class and little Sufei (the cutie in the middle) came over and put her hand on my arm and asked "Marie, are you ok?".  Teaching is just so.......rewarding!!!
This little monkeys are my heroes 🙂 Not only are they a tonne of fun, but they are incredibly sweet too. I went into a coughing fit today in class and little Sufei (the cutie in the middle) came over and put her hand on my arm and asked “Marie, are you ok?”. Teaching is just so…….rewarding!!!

What is this sudden shift in mood, you might be asking yourself?  My last few posts have been centered around how I’ve been ‘getting through’ this part of living overseas.  October and the first half of November were tough.  Culture shock, finding my ‘place’ at work and being constantly sick had definitely been putting a damper on my mood.  Dave is my rock, but even the best couples get nippy with each other when stresses run high for long periods of time, so we decided to do what we do best: travel!  What better way to improve moods and remind us WHY we’re here!  So Monday morning (I teach all day Saturdays and Sundays so my days off are Monday and Tuesday) we packed up, hopped onto a train and headed down to Zhenyuan Ancient Village!

Zhenyuan is located in the eastern part of Guizhou province.  This is roughly the route we took by train to get there.  The trip took just over 4 hours but the scenery was beautiful and time fly by
Zhenyuan is located in the eastern part of Guizhou province. This is roughly the route we took by train to get there. The trip took just over 4 hours but the scenery was beautiful and time fly by

We arrived shortly after noon, and caught a taxi to the old part of town, where our hotel was located.  After a few minutes of waiting to check in, a woman arrived to show us to our room.  I took out my passport so that she could match my reservation but she just laughed and told me that ‘she knew’ (as it turns out, not many Lao Wai visit this town).

The road where our hotel was located.
The road where our hotel was located.

She lead us outside and down an alley, to a locked door.  She called for someone who was cleaning his mop in the river, and he came and unlocked it for us.  As it turned out, he was the hotel’s owner.  He had just finished cleaning our room (which was spotless!) and he came up to welcome us to the hotel.  He spoke roughly 10 words of English, but he’d gone ahead and written down several things for Lao Wai to do in the town in English.  Judging by the way it’s written, he probably copied it down from something he translated in Google, but it was such a thoughtful thing to do and it really impressed us because China isn’t exactly famous for its customer service.

He wrote this all out in English, after translating it all through a website.  Such amazing service!
He’d memorized it as well, so he could point to thinks when we asked questions.
Dave, sitting on our room's balcony, overlooking the river
Dave, sitting on our room’s balcony, overlooking the river
A little girl being taught how to row a boat by her grandfather.  This was happening right under our balcony :)
A little girl being taught how to row a boat by her grandfather. This was happening right under our balcony 🙂

After planning out our days in Zhenyuan with him, we sat down and had some lunch at a local restaurant and then set off to explore the town a little.  I can’t really say we did anything terribly exciting, but there were so many beautiful things to see that it all felt like such an adventure!  Zhenyuan is a 2000 year old town, and the buildings have been built and rebuilt in the Miao minority style.  We wandered down cobblestone streets and eventually found our way to the busier part of town, where citizens there work, go to school and shop.  It was such a beautiful mix of old and new.

One of many stone archways in Zhenyuan.  This one led to an area where several tour boats (built in traditional Miao style) were docked for the evening.
One of many stone archways in Zhenyuan. This one led to an area where several tour boats (built in traditional Miao style) were docked for the evening.
A wooden tour boat
A wooden tour boat
A woman loading up her horse with gravel
A woman loading up her horse with gravel.   She was one of several people we saw with horses in downtown Old Zhenyuan, where taxis also cruise the roads
This bridge was the object of many of my photos.  It connects the north and south ends of town, which are divided by the Wuyang River
This bridge was the object of many of my photos. It connects the north and south ends of town, which are divided by the Wuyang River
One of several pagodas in Zhenyuan
One of several pagodas in Zhenyuan

After our stroll in the afternoon, we head back to the hotel for a much needed nap.  After all, what is a vacation if you don’t get to rest a little??  The view that greeted us as we left our room to find supper was incredible.  I’ve told my family and friends more than once that China, at nighttime, is too beautiful to really explain.  Here are some photos to back that up.

The view from our balcony
The view from our balcony
The same bridge at night
The same bridge at night
The same pagoda we walked by during the afternoon, lit up for the night.  All the red lights on the right are lanterns and the blue lights are of the boardwalk along the river
The same pagoda we walked by during the afternoon, lit up for the night. All the red lights on the right are lanterns and the blue lights are of the boardwalk along the river
Fishermen's boats under the bridge
Fishermen’s boats under the bridge

For supper, we enjoyed one of Guizhou’s most popular dishes: Sour Fish Soup.  It came with an assortment of vegetables, tofu and of course, rice!  We enjoyed Chinese beer, a spectacular view and fantastic food.  I’d recommend this restaurant to anyone…if for no other reason than the location!!

Our view while we ate
Our view during dinner
IMG_2879
Our waiter was kind enough to take a photo while our food was being prepared 🙂
Too much food for 2 people to eat!
Too much food for 2 people to eat!

After this feast, we head back to the hotel, taking the North side of the river back.  We got up close to the Green Dragon Cave (which is actually a temple..not a cave), and got to see the pagoda to the west of our apartment lit up.  No pictures could ever really capture the  beauty we saw in Zhenyuan Monday night, but I think my camera did alright in showing what it was like 🙂

An up close photo of the temple
An up close photo of the temple
The west pagoda.  Behind it, is a mountain.  Guizhou is famous for its rugged countryside, and its mountains are stunning.
The west pagoda. Behind it, is a mountain. Guizhou is famous for its rugged countryside, and its mountains are stunning.
A close-up of the same pagoda
A close-up of the same pagoda
We met fishermen all along the path back to our hotel.  I thought of my dad every time I heard a line hit the water :)
We met fishermen all along the path back to our hotel. I thought of my dad every time I heard a line hit the water 🙂

Stay tuned for part 2!  I always think I can fit it all into one post, but I want to share so many pictures so I always run out of time!  I suppose I’ll have to get my butt back online soon to tell you about our Wuyang River cruise and our lovely afternoon walking along an ancient wall 🙂

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