“The bus driver lets us know that we have to get off the bus. There we are, somewhere in Guangxi Province without exactly knowing where we have to go. ” Read the story of Lia and Bart about their sleepless night in one the most quiet villages in China. 

This post is part of the series called ‘Sleep less, dream more’ in which we share uncommon sleeping places and circumstances travelers encountered during their trip.

Written by Lia

We are heading for Dazhai, a little village right in the middle of rice fields near Guilin, China. Along the road some Chinese men are playing a card game. They are the only people around there so we approach them: ‘Ni hao, we would like to go to Dazhai. Can you help us?’ Luckily, one of them speaks English (a miracle in China) and he drives us to Dazhai. By the time we arrive, it’s already dark and it’s raining.

In peaceful Dazhai village we look at some hotels but we walk back to the first one we saw: just in the middle of the valley with really nice hosts. We check in and go downstairs to the restaurant. After we finished our dinner, the hosts and their family are having dinner. It looks and smells really good so we ask them, with hands and feet because they only speak Mandarin, what it is. They make the sound of a pig and we all laugh. They invite us to have dinner with them. Of course we won’t refuse so we enjoy some more good food. And the homemade rice wine.

Dinner around the fire. ©A world of food

Just before going the bed, I say to Bart: ‘Wow, it is so quiet in this valley! I bet we will have a good night of sleep.’ And yes: we slept well. Until an unimaginable noise of fireworks (you know, the Chinese 1000 fire-crackers) wakes us up at 4:00 in the morning. Recovered after the first shock, we look out of our window to see what’s happening. Apparently all men of the village are getting together in front of our hotel. To do what? We don’t know and we don’t care, we just want to go back to sleep. Unfortunately sleeping is impossible. After another look outside, we see the men are actually building a frame of a house. Ok, that clarifies all the shouting and hammering.

I’m almost asleep when I hear another incredibly loud noise, a very weird one. I cannot figure out what it is but it sounds horrible. Bart knows what it is: ‘It’s the sound of panicking pigs, they are probably slaughtering a pig’. WHAT?! And yes, when I look outside the window, I see a pig surrounded by some people. Holy… what is this?

The village with new house. Lia & Bart slept in the building on the left. ©A world of food.

At 6:30 we decide to just go out of bed and enjoy our day. While having breakfast, we notice how the men finish the second frame of the house. And we hear how they killed a rooster. We finally start to get ‘the system’: after finishing a wooden frame for the house an animal gets ‘sacrificed’. We also see how the blood of the animal gets thrown over a sort of banner. We have no clue why.

Our hosts are still so nice and prepare a lovely breakfast for us. After breakfast we go for hike along the rice fields. What an amazing place and views! By the time we get back in the valley all frames are up, it starts to look like a house. Really cool to see how all the people of the village work together and build that house.

While taking a shower, we hear a lot happening downstairs. Ready for dinner we walk down the stairs and to our suprise the whole village is gathered in the restaurant of our hotel! They are sitting together in little groups around a fire with a wok. We are invited to have dinner with them and totally speechless we take a seat. We both get chopsticks and a bowl and Bart immediately gets his bowl filled with rice wine. Cheers!

Dinner. ©A world of food

We ask what we are eating. The sound of a pig and a rooster is made. Suddenly it dawns on us: We are eating the animals that are sacrificed while building the house! And the animals are the feast meal for the Dazhai people to celebrate the new house. Later that night the banner with the animal blood is been raised in the roof-ridge for good luck.

Even though we couldn’t talk to the people, we had a really great night. Like we always thought: food and drinks brings people together and is cross-cultural. That’s also how we came up with our blog A World of Food.

By the way, we thought we would have a good night of sleep during our second night in Dazhai since the frame was finished and all people would be tired and/or drunk. Unfortunately for us, there’s also a tradition to sing mantra songs in the new build house. All night long….

About the author

Lia and Bart are on a culinary trip around the world. At their Dutch blog ‘A World Of Food‘ they share recipes, write about food adventures and share their travel stories and tips. Find them also on Facebook.

Recommended further China reading
Rock-climbing the karst hills near Yangshuo, China
The pros and cons of a homestay abroad
Jiuzhaigou, the most beautiful place in China
Photo essay of the Transmongolian Express


    • Cool Stephanie. Ik ben er toevallig ook in 2010 geweest (al heb ik niet zo’n spectaculaire nacht als Lia en Bart gehad), maar echt een supermooie omgeving inderdaad. Je kan er prachtige wandelingen maken!


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