Driving southeast of Kaili, the road climbs into the hills before finally descending into a subtropical basin. In the very south of this region is Zhaoxing, a lively, traditional Dong Minority village with a remarkable total of five drum towers. Zhaoxing still boasts its traditional wooden structures, including a number of wind and rain bridges and theatre stages. Many of the town's inhabitants continue to wear traditional clothing and speak only their native Dong language. Surrounded by lush fields and hills, Zhaoxing is a small oasis and well worth a day's stopover.
Zhaoxing is one of the largest Dong villages in the region, with more than 700 households and a population of 4000. The Dong people in Zhaoxing are all surnamed Lu. According to an old man, the head of the Dong people in Zhaoxing divided the people into five groups in order to make administration easier. The five towers represent kindness, righteousness, politeness, intellect and creditworthiness.
In the early morning when the first rays of sunlight appear in the sky, the streets and lanes in Zhaoxing come to life. People of the Dong minority gather to begin their life for another day.
The morning market is very interesting. Here you can try the local snacks; the fried rice ball was my favourite. The peddler was a middle-aged woman who is always happy to talk with travellers.
Following the early breakfast meal, the small town becomes quiet again as most people go out to the fields with baskets and tools to work.
The nearbyTangAn villageis also worth to see. For establishing aDong ethnic eco-museum, cultural experts from China and Norway chose the village Tang’ an after their detailed analysis and research among a series of Dong villages.
During the day, you can stroll around Zhaoxing without being disturbed by throngs of people.
Some highlights of the Zhaoxing Village you should not miss, such as the Dong people's garment, embroidery and silver accessories. The villagers still wear very traditional garment. All the Dong women were taught to weave, embroider and make garment when they were children. They wear very beautiful silver accessories.
Zhaoxing Village is also a cradle of Dong festivals and dances. The important Dong festivals include Dong New Year, the New Harvest Festival, Sama Festival and so forth. There are many kinds of Dong songs and dances, among which the Grand Song (Dage) is the best known. Zhaoxing is also the place where Dong people gather to perform the Dong drama every year.
The Zhaoxing Dong Village has about 800 Dong ethnic households with a total population of more than 4,000.It has become world famous village with more and more western visitors flock here. The village has been integrated into the first national batch of nationality folk culture protection project, National Historic & Cultural Villages and named the center of Dong drum tower culture by the National Ministry of Culture.
Drum towers The most famous buildings in Zhaoxing are the five drum towers. According to the tradition of the Dong people, each individual drum tower represents one group of local people.
The Dong people in Zhaoxing are all surnamed Lu. According to an old man, the head of the Dong people in Zhaoxing divided the people into five groups in order to make administration easier. The five towers represent kindness, righteousness, politeness, intellect and creditworthiness.
The umbrella-shaped tower is also said to be an auspicious building that protects all Dong people. Individuals must take a drink of the water in the well in front of the tower before death. Only by drinking the water can an individual's spirit join his ancestors. If a person fails to drink from the well before death, their spirit will be left alone after death. Most local people believe this legend to a certain degree.
Flower bridges Similar to the five towers, there are five bridges in Zhaoxing. Actually, the bridge is more of a building across the river, as most bridges are covered with pavilions. The bridges have earned the name "flower bridges" because of the exquisite sculptures that cover them. On a raining day, to sit in the bridge pavilion and chat with friends is one of the most pleasurable experiences.
On both sides of the bridges, you can find the houses of local people called diaojiao lou (houses built along the river).
Diaojiao lou in Zhaoxing features a public passage on the ground floor. People live in the houses built along the passage. With these passages and the five pavilion bridges, people can walk from one end of the village to the other without ever being exposed to the elements on a rainy day.
In addition, there are several places near Zhaoxing worth visiting - Kaili, Liping, Zhenyuan and Huangping. Local buses are available to travel from place to place.