Bucolic Stone Village near Anshun安顺 with an expensive Entrance Ticket

Shitou Zhai 石头 home to China’s best Batik.

Baishui River (白水河 Shitou Zhai 石头寨

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Baishui River (白水河 Shitou Zhai 石头寨

Tunbao Village, Wulong Si & Dixi Opera

Dixi Opera Performance

We didn’t really know what to expect when we arrived at Tunbao village, next to the larger town of Tianlong. We had heard that it was home to a special group of Han Chinese who still dressed in Ming clothes……

Click here for Updated version of this article: Tunbao Village 屯堡 and Dixi Opera

Click here for updated version of Tiantai Shan and Wulong Si

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Tunbao Ladies

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Wulong Si

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Dixi Opera Mask

Shitou Zhai 石头寨 and the Dreaded Ménpiào 门票 (Entrance Ticket)

The dreaded entrance ticket 门票. The expensive surprise you get when you visit a remote village in China

Baishui River (白水河 Shitou Zhai 石头寨

Shitou Zhai (visited in 2007)

 Baishui River (白水河 Shitou Zhai 石头寨

The stone Bouyi (ethnic group) village of Shitou Zhai 石头寨 , not far from China’s largest waterfall at Huangguoshu   and easily accessible by public transport, is said to have been around for some 500 years, and judging by the condition of some of the houses it could well be true.

Stone buildings at Shitou Zhai

The Bouyi build stone houses that resemble dwellings in European medieval villages. Anyone who has visited the remoter parts of the Spanish provinces of Castilla and Leon, or Galicia, will recognise the style immediately.

Lazy dogs at Shitou Zhai

These days, visitors are met at the entrance by friendly young women, dressed in traditional clothes, who act as guides – included in the steep 40 Yuan ticket (the dreaded Menpiao: That unexpected expense when you arrive in a village in rural China) – and give you a reasonably interesting demonstration on batik making techniques, provided you can speak Chinese.

They then take you for a walk around the village. Some of the old stone houses are still quite impressive, but many are just ruinous shells with nobody living in them.

A local bouyi at Shitou Zhai 石头寨

You might catch a glimpse of a few local Bouyi dressed in their dark-blue, dyed and embroidered clothes, but not many.

Making Batic (蜡染 /Làrǎn) Shitou zhai 石头寨

However, you will find plenty of opportunities to purchase batik products (蜡染 /Làrǎn) , your guide will be more than happy to point them out. While you are browsing, you may bump into wholesalers from Anshun 安顺 , many of whom buy their stock in Shitou Zhai.

Making Batic Shitou Zhai 石头寨

It’s a good idea to check out Anshun 安顺 prices first (especially the shops lining Nanhua Lu, near the bus station, specialised in Bouyi batiks (蜡染 / Làrǎn and Miao clothes) and then buy here.  Prices are very reasonable,  as long as you bargain.

Stone toofs at Shitou Zhai 石头寨

If Shitou Zhai is a bit of a let down, the surrounding countryside is stunningly idyllic. Slow rivers and water canals meander through rice fields, buffalo and village children swim in inviting pools, and enchanting paths lead off to other stone villages (without ticket) and towards the beautiful karst mountains.

Water canals and Karst scenery around Shitou Zhai 石头寨

If you continued for another 3 km after Shitou Zhai, through the rice fields, you’d reach the river (  Baishui River (白水河 ) only a few kilometres before it cascades over the rocks and turns into Huangguoshu falls.

 Baishui River (白水河 Shitou Zhai 石头寨

Practicalities:

Getting there and away:

Path along Baishui River (白水河 to Shitou Zhai 石头寨

You should get on a Huangguoshu– bound bus from Anshun 安顺 and ask the driver to drop you at the turn-off for Shitou Zhai, from where it is a pleasant 2- kilometre walk, following a slow winding river (Baishui River 白水河 ) and grazing buffalos to the village.

Stone houses at Shitou Zhai Scenic area 石头寨

Returning, there are many buses that pass through Shitou Zhai going to the town of Zhenning, from where buses depart every 10 minutes to Anshun 安顺 .

 Baishui River 白水河 Shitou Zhai 石头寨

Food:

Not Much! There are (were) no restaurants, but there is a small village shop where you can buy drinks, snacks and sweets.

 Baishui River (白水河 Shitou Zhai 石头寨
Local Bouyi in Shitou Zhai 石头寨