By Saeed Alamrie (Yemen)
Hunan is a very beautiful and welcoming province. The food, culture and most importantly the people are very warm and good. And Hunan Official Web Portal showed great generosity and welcome by organizing a photography competition and inviting us foreigners to visit beautiful places around Hunan. As part of the Second Hunan Province Foreigner Photo Contest, some friends and I were lucky enough to go on a free 4-day trip to 1) Dayuan Miao Ancient Village of Suining County, 2) Huangsang National Forestry Park of Suining County and Yutou Dong Village of Tongdao County, 3) Yutou, Huangdu, and Pingtan Villages of Tongdao County and 4) Nanshan Mountain Pasture of Chengbu County.
On our first day, we took off from Changsha early at 8 am. And our first destination was Dayuan Miao Ancient Village of Suining County, which took us five hours to arrive. The village had magnificent architecture - the traditional old Miao buildings. It was a real piece of history! The people of the village still hold their original customs, rich and colorful connotation, values and way of life dating back to the Ming and Qing dynasty (1368-1912). We were welcomed by a traditional welcoming dance by beautiful girls. The village left me in awe that they kept it the same for so long and not let the outer modern world influence it much. The village was surrounded by impressive wooden buildings surrounded by a beautiful bamboo forest. From the village, we were taken to visit the ancient "Dingyuan Bridge", which was still standing strong albeit its wooden structure. The day ended with a beautiful lighting ceremony at the hotel where we met more foreigners who had come to visit the village.
The next day, we firstly visited Huangsang National Forestry Park of Suining County, however, due to bad weather we couldn't reach the mountaintop so we just took pictures from the foot of the mountain where there was a beautiful stream. Nas, my friend, was my model to practice my photography skills! Not to boast, but I am a good photographer, I think! The same day, we made a trip to Huangdu Dong Village where we had a traditional get-together banquet.
On the third day, our first stop was Yutou Dong Village of Tongdao County. Here we witnessed Yashang Drum Tower. On top of the village, we saw one of the most beautiful village panorama I have ever seen! At the village we participated in 'Da Ciba' which is making glutinous rice cakes and also a "jostle-of-war" competition on abench. Heaps of fun!
The last day of the trip, we were taken to Nanshan Pasture of Shaoyang City. In my opinion, it was the best day because the grassland reminded me of my home - Yemen. It was a fascinating place because the plateau resembles an emerald lying on mountains bordering Hunan and Guangxi. At the mountain top, we had fun taking pictures by sitting on top of an airplane, chasing cows and riding ponies! It's really great fun! After this we were gathered in a conference room to discuss our feelings and opinions about the trip.
One thing that these places had in common was being offered wine at every single stop. This is how the locals showed hospitality. China never fails to amaze me. Over all, it has been an amazing experience with a lot of history learnt and lots of amazing scenic spots visited, as well as lots of laughers and fun!