Guiyang: Last Stop in Guizhou

Posted in Travel Log (Asia) at 4:00 am by Benjamin Ross

Guiyang is the capital of Guizhou province, and after being based out of Kaili for 3 days, I made Guiyang the last stop on my brief tour through Guizhou.

Guizhou is by most statistical measures one of the poorer provinces in China, so I wasn’t entirely surprised that the train station where I got off still had the 1990′s white tile look to it, an architectural style ubiquitous all over China in the last decade, but rapidly disappearing from the architectural landscape these days.
However as I wandered from the train station to the city center, it became apparent that Guiyang, at least architecturally speaking, was much more modern and glitzy than I had expected.
Here’s 人民广场.  (People’s Square)
…and Guiyang’s token Mao Zedong statue, this one being oddly dwarfed by the peculiar spaceship-esque building behind it.
In many ways, Chinese capital cities are all very much alike, and Guiyang fits this model.  There is very little of the old left, with most of the cityscape having been redeveloped between the early 1990′s and the present.
However, as far as provincial capitals go, Guiyang still has relatively few foreigners.  And encountering one in the street often calls for an impromptu photo shoot.
Guizhou is interesting linguistically, because like most of Southwestern China, the native language is a dialect of Mandarin.  Not “dialect” in the sense of Southeastern China where the local tongues are mostly unintelligible from one another, but dialect in the sense that any speaker of Mandarin can understand at least 95% of what’s said. It just sounds a little different, and idioms are often localized.  As an American, I’d compare it to talking to someone with a thick Australian accent.
Because of the close linguistic relationship to standard Mandarin, people in Guizhou will often speak to outsiders using the dialect.  This is very different from my experience in Fujian, where conversation immediately switches to Mandarin when any outsiders (including Chinese) are present because of the (generally accurate) assumption that outsiders simply won’t understand any of the dialect at all.
This appears to be the tallest building in Guiyang, and is still under construction.
More office/condo towers.  From this, and many other angles, Guiyang looks very much like the developed provincial capitals on the East Coast.
It wasn’t the first time I’d seen this in China, but Guiyang is home to its very own bright pink “modern” woman hospital.
I’m sure folks in Gender Studies might have a thought or two on this :)
On to Guiyang street food.  I forget what this was called, but essentially a screen over a coal pit used to cook tofu squares which are then (like most food in Guizhou) topped with hot pepper
Here’s another collection of Guiyang street snacks.  One theme I noticed throughout the entire province was a lot of potatoes.
Here’s a meal I ate in a sit-down restaurant located in one of Guiyang’s few remaining pre-PRC neighborhoods.  These two dishes seemed fairly representative of restaurant food I saw in the region.  This first one is ground pork with peppers. (尖椒炒肉末)
The second is dried bamboo with pork.  (笋干炒肉丝).  It should go without saying that both came with hot peppers.
And finally, here is the last evening on my trip, spent on Hubin Lu, a popular outdoor dining venue.
Here’s my waiter at my first stop.  Apparently you don’t need to be 18 to serve liquor in China.
Here’s another local Guiyang specialty I discovered by fortunate luck.  It’s called 铁板烧.  You order from a big list of foods such as meats, vegetables, and tofus, and then the waitress brings it all to you, and cooks it all right in front of you in a big iron grill.
Here’s the finished product.
more shots from Hubin Lu
Well, there you have it.  I was only in Guiyang for about 14 hours, but I think that was about enough to take things in.  The city isn’t all that big, but certainly had enough to keep me occupied.  Culinarilly speaking, it’s above average for a Chinese capital city, so at very least in that regard it’s worth a stopover en route to Guizhou’s many destinations (only a small handful of which I had time to visit).  That’s it for the Chongqing-Guizhou pictures.  Hopefully more to come soon.

1 Comment »

  1. b United States said,

    June 17, 2013 at 1:03 am

    The dish on the big iron grill looks a lot like the local dish 烙锅.

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