05.19.13

Zhenyuan, Random Guizhou

Posted in Travel Log (Asia) at 5:03 am by Benjamin Ross

One of my favorite activities in China has always been visiting random small towns which are off of the general tourist path.  So after my day in the tourist wonderland that is Xijiang, I opted for another day trip, to a town called Zhenyuan.

I had never heard of Zhenyuan until I was in Kaili, and a local woman I was sharing a cab with suggested I check it out.  It’s only about an hour and a half away from Kaili on the Guizhou mainline railroad, with trains going both directions on the hour, making for a convenient day trip.
Zhenyuan was originally the capital of Qiandongnan Miao Dong Autonomous Prefecture before it was moved to Kaili in the early PRC era.
As the former capital of the prefecture and home to an “ancient city” Zhenyuan is somewhat of a tourist site itself.  Although, I’d guess few people outside of Guizhou province have heard about it, let alone go there.
Zhenyuan evolved as a town spanning longitudinally across two sides of a river, and it is this river-bank architecture which I found to be its most appealing feature.
Zhenyuan’s “ancient city” was a bit of a letdown, with most of the old (or seemingly old) architecture primarily housing tourist trinket shops.
The flare of the “ancient city” is here represented in the architecture of the Zhenyuan train station.
And here’s a market shot.  Most of this pork was being lined up to be smoked and preserved into 腊肉.
No matter where I was in Guizhou, when I asked people what Guizhou food was like, the overwhelming majority answered something along the lines of “什么都要放辣椒。” (We add hot peppers to everything). And this assertion was well supported by the items sold at local markets.
Here is a collection of various plastic bottles reused, and filled with homemade hot sauce for sale at a convenience store.
I can’t seem to recall what this stuff was called, but it seemed to be the most prevalent local snack.  These meatballs and tofu balls were cooked in a scaldingly spicy hot oil, and then served in a soup with rice noodles.
Quite tasty I must say, and extreme high level on the spice.
Zhenyuan was a relaxing place to spend a day wandering around.  I wouldn’t recommend making a special trip there, nor would I recommend going if you don’t speak Mandarin, but for a short day trip from Kaili, it was a pleasant experience.  Next (and final) stop:  Guiyang.

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