Thursday, July 8, 2010

Day 14 – Waterfall and a Han Village

Day 14 – Waterfall and Han village (short version)
~Hopped in a van for 2 hour drive to waterfall
~Drove past the Butterfly's village
~Hiked to waterfall
~Bought the Bug a rain poncho
~Hiked behind the waterfall
~Longest escalator ever!
~Visited a Han village
~Drank ginger tea
~Ladies gathered around my husband
~Watched a mask opera

Day 14 – Waterfall and Han village (long version)
When we found out that we would be returning to Guizhou for our second adoption, I wanted to see if there were other places that we could visit that we didn’t get the opportunity to see the first time we were here. The famous Huangguoshu Waterfall is just one of those places. I had heard so many wonderful things about the waterfall from other adoptive families, so I just knew that it would be a special place to visit that would leave a lasting memory.

The two days prior to our tour of the waterfall our guide Jonathon kept asking us if we really wanted to go. Apparently it takes 2 – 2.5 hours to drive to there from Guiyang. But, I had my heart set on the trip so we decided to go (with a little coaxing from me!). Even on our drive there my mother asked, “Is there anything else besides the waterfall that we will see? After all, it really is a long drive, especially with a new baby.” Well, I am so glad that we made the journey. The waterfall happens to be the largest waterfall in China and the 4th largest waterfall in the world. It is a place where many Chinese people visit each year because of how spectacular it is.

To get to the waterfall we have to drive through Guiyang and make it to the highway, which by all accounts is totally different from the city streets. Hardly anyone drives on the highway, so we just sailed our way there. However, on our drive there we passed a very important sign, the exit sign to the Butterfly’s small town, Liuzhi. I realize that it is just a sign, but it is another link to our daughter’s past that we would not have had if we didn’t make this journey to the waterfall. I did take some photos of it for prosperity as we were traveling by in the van.

Once we made it to the park, we started hiking down the mountain. What was funny though was that at every turn people kept trying to offer us raincoats and umbrellas. Fortunately we did bring our own umbrellas, just in case it rained, but why in the world would we need plastic raincoats? Little did I know.

The path we followed meandered through some lush, green trees which reminded me a lot of tropical Hawaii. The area was gorgeous, and the trees offered us a slight breeze and shade from the hot sun. Eventually we made it far enough through the trees to finally see the waterfall. It was absolutely beautiful, spectacular. But, we were so far away I could not get a good perspective of how large it was. Eventually we made our way to a ledge where, again, we were offered plastic raincoats. Jonathon suggested that we get one for the Ladybug, which we did. Probably should have bought one for all of us!

It was right at that last point where the mist from the waterfall and the winds from the valley below started picking up and we started getting drenched. We used our umbrellas to shield us from a lot of the “rain,” but we still got drenched in the process. When I say drenched, I mean it. My pants were completely soaked. Honestly, almost every part of my clothing was soaked right through. We were laughing so hard by this time, and enjoying every minute of us “taking a second shower” of the day.

We continued to follow the path which eventually took us to the side of the waterfall, and then behind the waterfall. We meandered through some caves where water dripped from above, and the waterfall spilled down beside us. It was so amazing to see such beauty, and from a vantage point that is so unique when viewing a waterfall. By the time that we made our way through the back of the falls, we were completely drenched (yup, even more so than before), but all of us were laughing, the baby Butterfly included. I looked at my mother at this point and asked, “Is this much more than you were expecting?” She replied, “This is amazing, and so much more than I expected! I am so glad we came.”

We followed the path further, across a bridge and back toward the base of the mountain. There we took an escalator back to the top. Now, this was no ordinary escalator. It seemed like the longest escalator in the world. It must have ascended over 30 stories. I sure was nice to relax on it though, because hiking back up to the top would have been exhausting. Once at the top we drove to a nice hotel and enjoyed lunch, and again, some amazing food.

Following lunch we visited an authentic Han village. It was like stepping back in time as we wandered the streets of this village. The people were so sincere and loved having us visit them. There were quite a few people sitting outside their houses, hand-making shoes to sell, and embroidering fabric. We walked by one person who was making a huge vat of tea to share with her friends and passersby. We were offered some to drink and it was delicious. It was a type of ginger tea that was so good and soothing.

At one point we passed a group of girls playing in the town stream. They were so innocent and playful. In the heat, splashing in the trickling water of the stream seemed to be the best way to cool off. Even further along the path we were traveling, my husband came upon some young ladies who took a fancy to our little girls. Even though they could not communicate verbally, everyone enjoyed “talking” with one another. At one point my mother pulled out some gummy candy for one of the girls in the group (throughout this trip she has carried lots of treats to give to little ones, just to break the ice… it totally works!). Everyone huddled around and enjoyed the candy with smiles from ear to ear.

Further into the village we were treated to a special “Han Face Mask Opera.” They performed a beautiful dance that told a story, with elaborate masks. For the Ladybug the masks were very scary so she latched onto daddy and buried her head into his chest. The Butterfly on the other hand seemed quite intrigued and watched the entire performance with great interest. After the performance we made our way out of the village and back to Guiyang.

Eventually we stopped at a wonderful store that specializes in province-specific items. I was able to purchase some beautiful keepsakes for the girls that will always remind them of their birthplace, Guizhou. It was bittersweet walking through the store because I knew that we would soon be leaving Guizhou. I have thoroughly loved my stay here and will miss it dearly.

On our way back to the hotel we came across a common site on China’s roads… large, ancient looking, hand-pulled wagons that carry various items. Today, in the middle of rush hour traffic, while waiting at a stop light, a wagon carrying what looked like tree trunks, made its way through the crazy traffic. Now, in America we would never see 21st century vehicles on the same roads with wagons that look like they are a few hundred years old, but in China we have seen that every single day. It really is a site, and one that I will miss when we leave.

Tomorrow we will be leaving Guizhou, heading off to Guangzhou and the White Swan Hotel. Still have a lot of packing to do. Until then…



Jinji's parents said...

Oh! Thank you for sharing this adventure. It is exactly the type of thing we want to do with Jinji. We just have follow your itinerary.

S. Krumpus said...

Bailey it has been great to read each days adventure. I especially look forward to the pictures. It is nice to see so many more smiles from Butterfly. That first day you got her tore my heard out. I have even been reading your blog and sharing your story and pictures with my mom each day. We had one fish die, the white one. Other than that all is well here and it will be nice to have your family of 4 home in RC. Stacy