The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), which is the largest travel agents association, had their International Destination Expo in Guiyang City, China this November 2017. Since I had not visited that area of China previously, I decided it was time for me to go there.
I made reservations on China Southern Airlines round trip in business class since ASTA had arranged special pricing with the airline for this Expo. My seat reclined flat for a bed with much privacy from other travelers. Excellent entertainment system, and I rate the food excellent as well. The first leg of the flight was from San Francisco airport to Guizhou airport about 14 hours. This airport was huge - it makes San Francisco or Los Angeles airports look like postage stamps in comparison. Shuttles took you from the plane to gates. I had a 4 hour layover there before my short flight of 1.20 hours to Guiyang.
Upon arrival at Guiyang airport I was met by a representative of the airline booking company hired by ASTA, and taken to the Hyatt Regency which was the host hotel for the ASTA conference. I had arranged to arrive a few days early in order to do some site seeing on my own before hooking up with two friends coming from New York. The three of us had arranged our own special private tour to visit many Minority Miao & Dong tribal villages.
Guizhou province - Landlocked, with beautiful mountains, lovely lakes, a nice climate, good food, and friendly people, speaking different languages in different regions… Sound a bit like Switzerland? No, this is Guizhou Province. In addition to enjoying the scenery, tourists can explore the rich and varied folk customs and cultures of different minorities living in the region. Many minority groups live in Guizhou, including the Miao, Bouyei, Dong, Yi and Shui.
This is what myself and my two friends wanted to do - visit the real people of this area of China.
Upon arrival at the hotel, I met with the concierge to set up 2 individual trips for myself over the next 2 days before heading to my room to get some sleep as I had traveled through 2 time zones. The room was excellent - a nice 3 room suite beautifully appointed with excellent views from my windows.
The breakfast buffet was one of the best in my travels, and the hotel itself is one of the best in the Hyatt Regency brand. I had the opportunity to meet the General Manager and others on the staff all of which help make a stay at the hotel a pleasure. They were all helpful for whatever I needed.
My second day I was taken in the hotel's car and driver I hired to Huaxhi park which was about 1 1/2 hours from Guiyang City. I wandered through this park that has a river running through it, saddle bridges over the river in various places, flowers, ponds and NO foreign tourists except me. It was peaceful, clean and the smiling faces of the Chinese people in the park made me feel very welcome. I was drawn to the 'Music Center' where many locals were singing, dancing and playing instruments. I sat and watched them for awhile, and was then asked to come dance with them which I enjoyed. One of the ladies gave me some fruit to eat, and although neither of us spoke the others language we still communicated very well. After 3 hours I was picked up by the hotel car and taken back to my hotel in Guiyang - tired but very happy.
Day three I once again went in the hotel car about 2 hours from Guiyang to the Zhijindong Cave. Unfortunately they make the cars park at the foot of the mountain, and you need to walk up that to the cave. Once at the cave entrance, and after you purchased your ticket, every few minutes they call for everyone to enter the cave with one of the guides. Also unfortunately the tour is in Chinese normally. I met with the cave manager, and was afforded a private tour in english. It is well worth the drive to the cave, and the tour in the cave.
Day four was a day of rest for me which included the opportunity to have a definitely needed fantastic spa treatment, and an awesome Dim Sum lunch in the hotel both of which were over the top great.
The next morning I met with my two friends from New York who had arrived late the prior evening, and after an early breakfast we found our driver, guide and private van for our tour to various minority villages for the next few days. For the most part we never saw any foreign or Chinese tourists in the villages we visited - which was wonderful!
Over the next few days we:
Drove to Kaili and visited the Wudong Miao Village
visited the terraced paddy rice fields of Mt. Leigong
visited the Upper Langde Miao Village - with welcome rice wine drinking ceremony, song and dances performed
visited the Shiqiao Miao Village - to see how paper is made in the traditional way
visited the Bameng Shui Village by boat and stayed overnight in Rongjiang
visited the local market - seeing that since refrigeration is lacking everyone buys fresh daily
visited the Huanggang Dong Village
visited the Zhanli Dong Village
visited the Tang'an Dong Village
We then returned to the Hyatt Regency in Guiyang where the ASTA conference was to start the following morning.
The ASTA conference over the next few days included:
2 full days of tours to: Qingyan Ancient Town and a historical museum in Guiyang. Lunch was included. A visit to Meitan where we enjoyed a promotional lunch hosted by Meitan, and a visit to the Cuiya 27 º Scenic Area. We also took part in tea-picking and a tea art experience show.
Trade show where we met and interacted with many travel vendors in China
Session 1: Explore the Best-Kept Secret of China-Guizhou The story of exploring Guizhou begins with its mountains. With rolling mountains, mighty waters, beautiful sceneries, ethnic customs, historic sites, and most importantly, the hospitable Guizhou people, Guizhou destination experts will present you with the Top 10 Reasons for North American Tourists to visit Guizhou.
Speaker: Zhang Xiaosong, Professor at Guizhou Normal University
Session 2: Seize the Opportunity to Enter China’s Inbound Tourism Market
We’ll discuss the favorable and convenient policies attributed to the increase in China’s inbound tourism market, including visa-free, customs clearance process, duty-free, tax rebate, freedoms of the air, etc.
Speaker: China International Travel Service (CITS)
Session 3: The Role of Social Media in Tourism Decision Making
Social media, as one of the most powerful online networking tools, has been integrated into our daily lives. Online users from all over the world have been exposed to a completely new means of sharing information: electronic word of mouth. This type of peer communication through social media websites has become an important marketing channel for consumer decision-making. Learn how to utilize social media for destination marketing and influence decision making to clients.
Speaker: Sales Director at Greater China
At the end of the conference, I had paid for ASTA's post tour which took us to:
Tianlong Ancient Village
24 Zig Stillwell Road scenic area - part of the Burma Road and home to the Flying Tigers in WWII
Huangguoshu Waterfall - the largest waterfall in China
Visit the Langde Miao Village - for the wine drinking welcome ceremony, and show
Visit to Qianlinshan Park
................Then it was time to leave for the airport for the flights home. Once again China Southern Airline made the flight an excellent trip.
I want to take this opportunity to state that ASTA, Hyatt Regency Guiyang, and China Southern Airlines made this adventure very worthwhile. I learned so much about Guizhou province as well as other areas of China as well as what is available for touring around China.
China's infrastructure is amazing with excellent roads and highways with no potholes anywhere even in the villages in the mountains. They have high-speed bullet trains everywhere, and are even building separate bicycle highways. To help tourism I would advise they install more western style toilets although even their squat toilets are flushable. Westerners not being used to squat toilets have a hard time using them. Also they need to give more thought to mobility challenged and disabled people.
Here are my pick of the over 8,000 photos I took on the trip which I hope will give you a nice overview of this wonderful area of China, and the marvelous people waiting for your visit.