The Dong ethnic village of Xiaohuang (小黄) is situated at a half-an-hour from Gaozeng (高增), up in the foggy hills of southeastern Guizhou province (贵州省). You will drive on the windy and bumpy road makes that lead to the village will make you feel like Xiaohuang (小黄) is a remote place.
When I visited Xiaohuang and other Gaozeng (高增) near Congjiang (从江) in October 2013, I found hamlets unspoiled by tourism where travelers can get a genuine and authentic experience of rural ethnic life.
In front of the Wind and Rain bridge that marks the entrance of Xiaohuang, a parking lot is being built and behind the village gate, a new drum tower was under construction in the middle of a not-yet paved esplanade.
Driving by the village of Baba (岜扒村)
From Gaozeng (高增) to Xiaohuang, you will drive pass by the village of Baba (岜扒村). Before entering in the village, you will get an incredible view at the roofs, the paddy fields and the drum tower. It reminded be of quiet villages in Europe where the church’s bell tower is the highest building.
Wind and Rain bridges
The main reason why I ventured to Xiaohuang was to get a look at the village’s Wind and Rain bridges which will never cease to amaze me.
The most impressive one is located at the entrance of the village. It stretches across the river and the paddy fields. Although the stone piers and the wooden upper structure of the bridge is impressive, there are no decoration in the corridor. Yet, it is an outstanding deployment of carpentry skills.
There is another outstanding Wind and Rain bridge that links the lower to the upper village as well as small minor bridges in the village. Some of them look in bad shape and in need of repair work, but they are still standing.
Dong drum towers
On your way to Baba and Xiaohuang, you will drive through Gaozeng and pass by other Dong villages which all have at least one drum tower. The decorations, frescoes and miniatures carved on these pagoda-shaped structure are all different and they all tell a different stories.
If you enjoy ethnic minority architecture, you will probably want to stop in every village to get a closer look at them. Today, drum towers are the gathering places of the elderly. They sit by the fire on wooden bench, chat, smoke, play cards, watch TV or practice singing. They are the best place to spend some time with the locals and practice you sign language skills (most of the elderly do not speak Chinese Mandarin).
How to get there
The get to Xiaohuang and the surrounding villages, you will have to get to Congjiang (从江) first. Congjiang is a small town located in southeastern Guizhou province, on the border with Guangxi province.
There are direct buses from Kaili (凯里), Zhaoxing (肇兴), Rongjiang (榕江), Guiyang (贵阳) and Sanjiang (三江) in Guangxi province – the gateway to the Chengyang Dong hamlets. From Kaili and Guiyang, it is a five to six hours bus journey. There is a motorway all the way from Guiyang and Kaili, but it stops in Luoxiang (洛香) and from Luoxiang it’s a bumpy mountain road through villages.
Congjiang will be directly linked to the highway soon (viaducts and bridges are under construction to link Congjiang to Luoxiang), which will cut travel time and bring more tourists.
There are no direct bus connection to the surrounding villages, you will have to hire a driver to go to tour Baba, Xiaohuang. On your way there, make sure to also stop in Gaozeng.
Where to stay
At the moment, your best option in Congjiang (从江) is the Aoyue Hotel (奥悦酒店) which was recently renovated. You can get a room for 200 RMB. The best is that the carpet does not stick to you socks and there is an abundance of restaurants nearby.
From the bus station, walk for about ten minutes on the main (and only street), you will pass by a couple of other hotels and guesthouses that look deserted.
The exact address of Aoyue Hotel is : Guangjiang Dongnan Road #9 (关江东南路9号). Call them at this number to book a room : 0855-6411808.