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Chinese Holiday in Guoliangcun

by André on October 5th, 2011

This week it is a National Holiday here in China, because Mao Zedong did something important 62 years ago. Next to Christmas this is probably the biggest holiday in the world involving a fifth of the world’s population. Because of this traintickets are almost not available and all the places you want to visit will be crowded I tried to make an alternative travelplan.

So I thought that I could avoid 1,4 billion Chinese on their holiday by going to a little village called Guoliangcun. This city is way off the main tourist-trail but since there aren’t any traintickets available I needed to go the slow way by bus anyway.

After a day of travel by bus from Xi’An (Yes, I’ve seen em) I arrived in Zhengzhou. There is pretty much nothing to do there and therefore I haven’t seen a single westerner in this small city of two million. The next morning I get a bus to Xianxiang, even smaller and in the middle of nowhere with a lot of what-the-hell-are-you-doing-here looks on peoples faces. But luckily, with some poiting at my lonely planet I found my way to a bus that took me to another busstation where I had to get on yet another bus.

And there I realised that Guoliangcun maybe not that far off the map for the Chinese. Quite a few tourists were waiting there and in the end the bus came. Tourguides were shouting at me to go here and there and put my bag there and I eventually got in the bus. No seats were available so I had to stand and started questioning if I made the right decision.

Then I arrived at the gate of the park where a lot of tourbusses had gathered and cars were honking and the Chinese were pushing in line of the tickets. Luckily a Chinese couple came on and helped me and after getting the tickets we did a little 4km hike (with a 20kg backpack) and arrived in the village up the hill. The village itself was pretty small but at this time overrun by Chinese with their cars and you could stop hearing the sound of them honking. So you may imagine that I needed to change my expectations. The couple told me that this place is actually not popular with Chinese and throughout the year there is nothing to do, but it’s just public holiday…. amd there is no escape!

But then I started doing what I like to do most during my travels: getting lost. I found some amazing spots where it was too far for the Chinese to walk. The scenery was absolutely amazing and in the end I truly enjoyed my stay there although it would be even more magical if it wasn’t so crowded but I defintely would recommend other backpackers in China to take a little detour and go there. So in the end it was a mistake thinking I could avoid hundreds of millions of Chinese, but coming to Guoliangcun was definitely a mistake worth making.



From → China

59 Comments
  1. Damian Harper permalink

    Glad you liked this village – I wrote it up for the Lonely Planet China guide back in 2006, first time it appeared in the book. I had a lovely trip, even though I did it with a broken arm…not my writing arm, thankfully!

  2. André permalink

    Well thank you for your article then! It’s been a while now but I remember there only being a few lines in the LP that triggered my attention. I was still so naive to think I could avoid the Chinese tourists… but the scenery was absolutely spectacular :-)

    I’m still curious how you, as a writer, discover places like this in a country as large as China. Do you ‘plan’ to go to certain places or just randomly discover them? Also, are you still writing and discovering new things?

    XièXiè and take care!

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