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Guangnan County Bamei Village, Paradise beyond the Cave

 
Bamei Village(坝美), a hidden village accessible only by boat through a giant Karst cave, overlaps the paradise depicted by Tao Yuanming (365AD-427AD), a famous hermit and great pioneer poet who set up pastoral poetry in China. Hence, it can stir every Chinese’s innermost fantasy, just as first love. Hailing from the outskirt of Guangnan County and 450km from Kunming, Bamei Village is an off the beaten track retreat, yet it promises authentic, colorful and laidback Zhuang lifestyle. Villagers here still plow the field with wooden plows or rakes, irritate the rice paddies with wooden wheels, weave fabrics with looms and grind the rice with mills. Life here remains the same during the past millennium.
 
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By far, it is shared by over 115 households. Bearing the surnames of Li, Huang, Nong and Lu, villagers here split into four clans. Due to everlasting intermarriage, most of them are relatives.

Unlike any other ethnic villages and water towns, Baimei Village is a paradise beyond the cave. Once you make it here, you will see a giant, mist-shrouded cave covered with lush forest. Tens of thousands of swallows are hovering above, and the buzz of their singing evokes a sense of mystique. A pig groove boat will lead you into the depth of this cave. Gradually, the clamor of talking, the splashing waterfalls and the buzz of swallows will give way to the murmuring whispers of bats. When darkness engulfs you and the boat, you will hear your heartbeat and have an illusion that you are entering a time machine tunnel. Interspersed with three holes above, this cave will see sunshine pour in at specific areas and shimmer against the dark expanse. It is a world of grotesque rocks and bats, whose droppings pile up like a dune. After 20 minutes, you will see a ray of light ahead, then, a new, idyllic and amazing village will pop up in front of you suddenly. Wooden water wheels, clean streams, beautiful Zhuang girls, bamboo forests, peach trees, sprawling houses and vast rice paddies paint a dreamy picture, which is  the reoccurring scene and eternal theme of Chinese pastoral poetry.
 
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In Bamei Village, you can see the most ancient Zhuang traditional folk residences called Malanlou, the most ancient Stile House. Villagers here live a self-sufficient life. During the past, they seldom leave this village except for one situation: they run out of salt.
 
If you are interested, you can see the whole process of how a piece of Zhuang clothes is made, from weaving, dying to do embroidery. Men here wear black front opening tops, black loose trousers and black headgears, while women dress black, blue or purple round-collared, narrow-sleeved, left opening tops, black accordion dress or long trousers as well as embroidered shoes. The image of bird reflects their primitive worship.
 
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Naked Bath: Bamei Village has a Man River and a Woman River, which serve as men’s and women’s public bathroom all year around. People here are very innocent, and take bathes naked.

Rich Flora and Fauna Species: this serene heaven is shared by both Zhuang villagers and over 400 macaques. Besides, it is also home to a rare bat named Flying Fox. With a fox’s face, Flying Fox’s two wings reach over 2 meters. It has big eyes and short tail. At dawn or dusk, it will come out to feed. Fruits, flowers and leaves are its main source of food. Except for Africa, South Asia and Australia, you can see it here in China.


What to eat: Rice wine, mushrooms, glutinous rice dumpling Zongzi, five color glutinous rice, Sour Bamboo Shoots with Snails, Roasted Fish, Sour Bamboo Shoot and Chicken, bacon, eggs and corns
 
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Bamei Village Travel Guide

Location: Bamei Village, Ake Township, Wenshan Zhuang and Miao Autonomous Prefecture, Kunming, Yunnan
History: since Song Dynasty (960-1279)
Type: Off the Beaten Track
Climate: tropical plateau climate, pleasant weather all year around, and summer is the rainy season
 
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How to get in:

Kunming to Guangnan County:462km

Guangnan to Bamei Village: 43km (road condition: earth road. Kind of bumpy). From Tangna Village to Bamei Village, it takes around 2.5km’s hiking, you have better wear comfortable flats.

Accommodation: stay in a local villager’s home for the night, or bring a tent and some food. Eating here is very cheap, around 2 dollars per person.
 
 
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bamei village
 
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