Monday, April 25, 2011

Chengyang, Land of the Dong People

Day 6 (28th March 2011)

The next morning, I was on the road by 6:45 a.m. I wanted to explore Zhongsan Road to check out the locations of hostels along this street. There were quite a small number of hostels at the southern end and less further north. I would know where to go the next time I was back in Guilin.

I returned soon. As I was checking out from the hotel, the elderly man arrived. What a dedicated man, providing such good service! He led me across Zhongsan South Road to his booth.

I paid him RMB60 and was issued a receipt accordingly. A lady, introduced to me, would lead me to the Sanjiang-bound bus when it arrived. Then, the lady left. 8:30 a.m. came and went. There was no lady and there was no bus. Finally, she showed up a few minutes late and led me to the bus stop adjacent to the ticketing booth. At 8:45 a.m., the bus arrived. Finally, I would be on my way to Sanjiang. She came aboard the bus and clocked the ticket (or so I thought).

Mid-way through the journey, she said I should get off the bus. I was caught by surprise. Wasn’t this the Sanjiang bound bus? No, we had actually arrived at Qin Tan Bus Station. She led me to the departure gate. The bus would leave at 9:30 a.m. That was fine. Since there was time to kill, I went to the loo just before departure time. On coming back, the conductor asked for the ticket. I gave her the receipt and then suddenly, she passed me a ticket which she was holding in her hand. The fare was RMB37.

I realised that I have once again being scammed, this time by an elderly man in cahoot with other scammers. He made a tidy sum of RMB23 just by being nice and offering half-truth as advice. He probably made some more money by introducing me to the hotel too. How could I again trust another Chinese! Are there any honest Chinese in the tourism trade?

The bus departed as scheduled at 9:30 a.m. There were some surprises in the bus. At least three men sitting on the row in front of me spoke Fuzhou, and they seemed to be travelling independently. On the row behind me on the other side, there was a Fuzhou couple with their kid. I could not believe it. So many Fuzhou were travelling to Sanjiang.

From the husband, I found that he was working in Sanjiang. Were there many Fuzhou working in Sanjiang? It was a city that seemed to be under rapid development, with construction work being carried out on very road and street.

The bus finally arrived at Sanjiang at He Dong Bus Station (for long-distant buses from Guilin, Longsheng, etc.) after 3 hours at 12:30 p.m. I inquired at a ticketing counter and was advised to take a tuk-tuk with a fare of RMB2 to He Xi Bus Station (for local buses to Chengyang, Zhaoxing, etc.) to get the transportation to Chengyang Bridge. On the way, the tuk-tuk driver asked me about my destination and on learning that it was Chengyang, he offered to take me there for RMB40. It was affordable but anyway, I negotiated with him and his final offer was RMB35 for the 40 minute ride. I took it mainly for the experience as this was my first ride in a tuk tuk.

At the entrance gate to the cluster of villages at Chengyang, the tuk tuk driver stopped for me to purchase the entrance ticket. It was RMB60. He drove through the modern bridge and stopped at the first hotel near the Chengyang Bridge, Cheng Yang Bridge National Hostel. It was fully booked and we were told that all other hostels in the villages were fully booked too. He reversed and returned to the modern bridge where there was a hostel, Dong Village Hotel situated beside it (owned by Michael Yang, whose name appeared frequently when you do a search on Chengyang accommodation). The rate was RMB80 and affordable.

Earlier, I was told by some villagers at Chengyang Bridge that there would be a folk performance at 3:30 p.m. The only problem was where. From Chengyang Bridge, I strolled along the foot path which would lead to Ma'an Village in search of the performance. Ma'an  Village lies barely 50 metres from Chengyang Bridge.

Though Chengyang was highly recommended by Western bloggers, I saw modernisation creeping in already, with cement and brick being used in new buildings. Commercialisation has also crept in and I have this unpleasant feeling that the villagers were very much material oriented, at least as far as money was concerned. It was a major disappointment, in so far as Chengyang Bridge and Ma’an Village were concerned.

Chengyang Bridge itself was occupied by villagers selling handicrafts and souvenir. The river flowing beneath it was not very clean, with rubbish clearly seen here and there. The waterwheels, which could be an attraction themselves have been abandoned, neglected and were decaying. The Dong villagers performing their dances, singing and playing music at 3:30 p.m. did not seem enthusiastic and the performance lack-lustre. During the drinking ceremony, donation was solicited. At Ma’an Village Square where the performance was conducted, the old women sellers would come back to you over and over again to sell their wares, even after you have bought them. I overheard one Chinese visitor saying to the old peddlers that she had bought some items already and asking them why would she needed to buy so many.

If you think you could walk on the main road to another village after paying the RMB60 entrance fee a day earlier, you would be disappointed. There are youngsters right on the main road side of the modern bridge who would stop you from doing so, saying that the entrance fee was for the earlier day. The official in uniform there would not stop them. This was pure greed. Shameful, really!.
It was not worth a night’s stay and you should just save the cost of accommodation for somewhere else. I have enough of this over-rated place.

Instead of staying until check-out time of 12:00 noon the next day, I had decided to leave early the next morning for Sanjiang for my onward trip to Zhaoxing.


  1. Nice, nice! How could I miss out on this lovely place last time? But we are not able to cover every inch during the trip, right?

  2. Yes, time is essential in covering as much area as possible.

  3. Good article and photos of the Dong Tribe. Sharing with you an article about the Singing Dong Tribe in
    Watch also video in Youtube at :