The Theo Goumas China Blog

Part 91 of the Theo In Guiyang blog post is now out.  This is a massive body of work describing what it is like to be a foreigner in China, and in Guiyang. In Episode 91, Theo makes his way to Shaolin, and posts some beautiful pictures and narrative at:

Theo’s China Blog

Episode 92 is out: Part 92

This episode is about Theo’s trip from Guiyang to Hong Kong and his first day in Hong Kong.

 

Hong Kong / Zhuhai Airport

Sixteen years of coming to China and I still get this language thing screwed up. When you are talking to someone in English, make sure they say the information. If you ask a question, no matter how good their English may seem , the answer is often likely to be “Yes”. They often answer this way because agreement tends  to end the conversation. I had no trouble going to Hong Kong by train, but my return trip was nightmareish via Zhuhai Airport, which my Cheapo Air website told me was near Shenzhen. When I bought my Octopus Ticket upon entry to Hong Kong, the guy behind the desk said that I could go to Zhuhai using the Octopus ticket. So I asked him if it was by train or bus, and he said either one, but train would probably be better. “Do I come back here and then go to Zhuhai from here?” . . . “Yes.” He suggested another 50 HKD on the Octopus card to make sure I had enough on  there to cover the trip.

What a load of crap. One look at the map would have told me the nonsense I just swallowed. I was so confident that the guy was honest, that I didn’t independently confirm. Needless to say, if you are using the Zhuhai Airport for Hong Kong, it is wise to carefully check your itinerary in advance. By the way, after missing my flight, I got a new ticket the next night at no charge. Hooray for Air China.

ZhuHaiOne look at the map would have showed me that Zhuhai is not an easy access from Hong Kong. So we live and learn.

Riding the Bus

Riding the bus in Guiyang gives a real view of the city, up close and personal, and sometimes a little gritty. There are so many situations that arise, unlike the taxi. A taxi ride to home from downtown can cost between 30 and 50 RMB, which works out to between $4 and $7. The bus ride is about 2 RMB and often involves a two kilometer walk late at night to complete the trip.

So a couple days ago I got on the bus at the “Big West Gate” bus station and I was greeted by a clean and well dressed young lady that had a full smile.  It was the most friendly smile I’ve ever experienced when getting on the bus. So I stood near her and she reached out and grabbed my coat sleeve and gestured that I should give her 1 RMB. I said, “You recognize me don’t you?” She smiled more. I told her that I remembered her too. Her smile got bigger. I remembered the girl from a couple months ago (at Big West Gate Bus Station) when I saw her trying to wipe her hand on a bus sign. Then she had  gone and sat on the curb, a little bit dirty on that rainy night.

I am not a soft touch for beggars in Guiyang. Most of the beggars seem to look healthy or are even faking their affliction. This relatively young and pretty girl was alone two months ago and wasn’t trying to beg. I had a small package of tissues and I put a 10 RMB note with it and gave it to her so she could wipe her hand. She took the 10 RMB note and one tissue from the package and gave me back the tissues.  I tried to refuse the tissues but she insisted on giving the package back to me. So when I got on the bus that day I didn’t immediately recognize her, but when I realized she couldn’t talk, it all connected up. I remembered her.

She left me alone for a little while and then she tried to communicate again. She was holding my sleeve and pulling. I figured out that she was trying to sell me her seat for 1 RMB.  So I finally said OK and gave her 1 RMB.  Some of the older folks on the bus gestured to me that there was something wrong with her head. I just nodded slightly and went back to trying to get the girl to let go of my sleeve.  She was standing and trying to get me to sit in her seat. I told her that I was getting down at the next bus stop because I needed number 69 bus. She let go. Some of the others on the bus offered their advice on which bus to take and so on. I got off at the next stop and said good by to the young girl. It was a very friendly and warm experience. It was nice to know that the little girl was sufficiently functional that she could move around the city and do OK.

I’ve been very involved in the local bus service in Traverse City since the beginning in 1985. I am one of the several people who can rightfully claim paternity of the BATA bus service there. It is a service that handles a lot of special needs clients, but is having a difficult time mainstreaming the general public to incorporate  buses as part of their lifestyles. I like riding buses in both Guiyang and Traverse City. The interaction with the others on the bus makes life a bit richer. Let the bus driver fight the traffic. On the bus I can play with my cell phone as much as I want, guilt free.

Miao Walking in the Clouds – Adventure Sports

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Rebecca

Rebecca and San Ge in  traditional “Dong” minority attire.

When I first met the lovely Ms. Lui, Rebecca, from Hong Kong, the first idea I had was something like amazement. Almost all of my students have wanted to go overseas, or at least to Beijing or a coastal Chinese city. Why would a well educated Hong Kong born woman want to come to Guizhou? I’m not very subtle and that was my first question. She wasn’t hesitant. She said that she had had several opportunities to marry, but was never really interested in marriage until she met Li Ming Song (SanGe).

It was on a trip to Hong Kong, that SanGe met Rebecca. She had never met anyone like him, who embraced the danger of extreme sports. Rebecca had been involved in sports in college and she was immediately attracted.

Rebecca’s Hong Kong family didn’t understand her ideas either, but they were supportive and all came to the wedding in Guizhou. It was a traditional Miao wedding. SanGe is a “Miao” minority by birth.

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SanGe

Miao people have an ancient culture and are scattered around Southern China, Vietnam (Mong), and Laos. They speak their own language. It is a culture that embraces living within nature, respecting the environment. Many Miao never bother to learn Mandarin Chinese.

SanGe has always been curious about the world and the nature around him since he was a young boy. His Miao minority father could even communicate with the birds. SanGe served in the army as an artist soldier almost 30 years ago. After that he did lots of work related to music and art.

Tandem paragliding in Nepal.

SanGe had seen a hang glider on TV when he was young and wanted to fly. He later learned to fly gliders and learned paragliding. Now he has become a professional sports guide and instructor. He works with all kinds of groups from all over the world. His company which was co-founded with Rebecca, is called The Hump Exploration Ltd. [TheHumpExploration] and is registered in Hong Kong and Guizhou. It offers outdoor adventure sports like tandem paragliding, caving, as well as rock and cliff climbing. SanGe even leaves the mountains of Guizhou to take his guests scuba diving when there is a demand.

Tourists like to come to Guizhou because of the beautiful mountains, caves, and rivers. Some of them get into trouble. SanGe is one that often gets the call when emergency services people can’t, or don’t want to handle a dangerous emergency.  In their spare time, Rebecca and SanGe like to work on charitable projects such as bringing young people from Hong Kong to Guizhou for cultural exchanges.

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The Liu Pan Shui Mountain Church.

Last year, while climbing with a group in Liu Pan Shui, SanGe heard music. It was so familiar, a sound from a dream that he’d had many times. The singers were singing in his native Miao language and he followed the sound. On top of one of the many mountain peaks he saw the little church. He said that he almost cried. They were singing Christmas carols in his native language. It was Christmas Day, 2016. He felt like he was walking in a dream. Of all the excitement in his life, this was one of his most memorable moments.

Youku: Mountaintop Holy Songs

Ray Scoops CNN

This article recently appeared on CNN. It talks about he cooperation between the US and China during WWII. There is a certain Guizhou Road that took a lot of American traffic, resupplying the Chinese in the fight against Japanese aggression.

Lost Road from China’s Wartime History

This is a great article that shows the cooperation between the USA and China during WWII.  Ray Mahoney, writing for www.tourguizhou.net reported something similar back in August of 2013:

The Lost Road

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Shirley’s Private Gallery of Guiyang

shelly1I first came to Shirley’s gallery on November 26 and met the beautiful proprietor, Shirley (Xiao Li). She had an exhibition of the local artist named Yin Shi Long. His art and sculptures were very impressive, and I found myself having dinner with a variety of artists in her restaurant. Shirley’s story is as interesting as Artist Yin’s work. Shirley has opened a second floor gallery in one of the most entanceexclusive locations in Guiyang, downtown on Jian Dao Jie, beside the river. Shirley is able to support the artists of Guizhou because of her successful clothing business and restaurant. The restaurant is on the first floor and the gallery is directly above.
pillowShe is so successful that she has her own pillows with her face on it. She also has T-Shirts, batteries, silk scarves, postcards and my favorite mouse pad.mousepad

Shirley takes her inspiration from her art teacher, Chen HongQi. He has been an established artist in Guiyang many years, and some of his art is shown below, taken from his recently published book.

The gallery is supporting the artist community of Guizhou, having featured the art of seventeen local artists. These artists are not charged any money for this premier location. Shirley is an art collector and often accepts gifts of art from the artists that she helps.

Shirley urges everyone to buy the art to help maintain the artist community. We discussed the art scene extensively over coffee in her gallery on Tuesday (Dec 6, 2016). Interested patrons of Guizhou Art can write tourguizhou@gmail.com for more information.

Shirley Gallery

72 Jian Dao Jie
Guiyang, Guizhou
(0851)86676222/86911000

 

 

 

Natural Beauty of Caohai, Photos by Yu Jiahua

caohai_blackneckedcranes4Yu Jiahua has traveled around the world taking photos. Some of the most beautiful photos are of the natural wetlands of Caohai. This is a lake that is the home of the black necked crane, which migrates to Guizhou in the winter, and then returns to Russia to spend it’s spring and summers.

Minority Villages of Guizhou, Photos by Yu Jiahua

Surrounding Guiyang, of Guizhou Province are minority peoples, whose culture has been preserved by the predominantly Han population of China. Here are some photos showing the “ancient” lifestyle of the local peoples.

 

Guiyang City Photos, by Yu Jiahua

The City of Guiyang in Guizhou Province is as modern as they come in China, with it’s share of modern structures.  Here are some examples by Mr. Yu.