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Harvesting With The Miao People

Last year, me and a German friend went to Chengzi Old village. It is a traditional Yi minority village, really beautiful, but very small. Thus after staying there two days we decided to go exploring the surrounding countryside. We asked an old man where we could find some minority villages and he told us: “Yes, behind this mountain there is a Miao village. If you take the road around the mountain, it's fifty kilometers, but if you walk up and down the mountain, you can be there in just a few hours.” So we started hiking.

   

At first there was a really old stone trail, but as we climbed higher it disappeared completely and we were just picking our way through bushes and stones. Three hours later, we finally arrived to the Miao village. Half of it still had traditional earth houses, the other half were a modern concrete substitute.

  

By then, we were getting really hungry and thirsty, but people told us that there were no restaurants, no shops, nothing (which is really rare in China). Until a nice lady told us: “Come! Come to my house, I'll cook for you.” Her house was one of the new concrete ones, she was very proud of it, because her son had built it for her. Her kitchen was very rudimentary, with a well in the middle and a big fire-powered wok in one corner. She cooked a few dishes for us and then left us alone in the kitchen. She came back just after we finished washing the dishes. When we asked how much money we owned her, she said: “No, no, no!I don't want money, it's only natural that I cook, you are guests in my home.” No matter how much we insisted, she didn't want our money. So instead we offered to help them work in the fields.

  

The women from the village were all harvesting wheat together. They gave us sickles and showed us how to cut and bundle wheat. We were very slow and clumsy in the beginning and I don't think we were a great help, but they had a lot of fun showing inexperienced foreigners how to work the fields. We had a hard time communicating as most of them didn't speak Mandarin, only their own Miao language. One of them asked us if Europe was far from Shanghai, we told them we had to take a plane for many many hours, she was very impressed, because in her life she had only been away from her village once to work in Shanghai.

The field itself was huge, with fifteen people having to work three days to finish the harvest. Luckily the whole village together bought a machine to separate the grain from the straw. So they didn't have to do it by hand.

After four hours of hard labor, they all took a break and we started hiking back up the mountain. Just before sunset, we arrived back in Chengzi Old Village tired but happy.

If you also want to go to Chengzi Old Village and explore the countryside, you can go with our 11 Days Yunnan Minority Culture Tour. Or you can find out more about other hidden villages, tailor your own tour or contact us.

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