SUMMER is the hardest season of the year for me. Whenever I complain about the hellish heat in Beijing, people are surprised that a Malaysian cannot stand the weather.
Little do they know that Malaysia has super air-conditioning systems and we make full use of them.
Under the “temperature control policy”, air-conditioning settings cannot go below 26°C in public places, including shopping malls. In the summer, the temperature at most of the places in China can get as high as 40°C in the day.
But there is one piece of land blessed by the gods that is spared from the scorching heat – Liupanshui, a small city in southwestern Guizhou province.
Liupanshui literally means six trays of water in Chinese but this has nothing to do with how the funny name came about. It is derived from three districts – Liuzhi, Panzhou and Shuicheng.
This mountainous area enjoys an average temperature of 19°C during summer, thus earning its nickname “The Cool City of China”.
I was lucky to be part of an Asean media tour to visit the place. Upon walking out of the airport, I was welcomed by the cool breeze and an endless mountain range.
Green tourism is gaining popularity in China as life in the cities becomes increasingly intense.
More and more people seek to escape the hectic lifestyle and search for quiet and relaxed places to calm their minds.
Liupanshui, gifted with breathtaking scenery and comforting weather, has much to offer – waterfalls, caves, lakes, wetlands, historical sites, theme parks, hot springs and eco-tourism resorts.
There are more than 10 key tourism zones in the city, which was built in 1978 during the Third Front Movement period due to its strategic location.
(The movement saw the industrialisation of China’s interiors and agriculture regions with the Mao Zedong government investing massively in mining, manufacturing and transportation networks to enhance the country’s defence. Provinces and autonomous regions deemed key in resisting invasions were included in the project.)
Liupanshui is so unspoiled that an ancient human site with tonnes of fossils, human teeth and cooking tools dating back to over 200,000 years was found in a cave.
The items from the Panxian Dadong site are high on the list of Top 10 National Archaeological Discoveries.
Apart from its natural beauty and archaeological value, Liupanshui is also rich in the culture and traditions of the minority tribes. It is home to 44 ethnic minorities such as the Miao, Yi and Buyi.
A variety of festivals is celebrated in this region.
They include the Huoba Jie (Torch Festival), Tiaohua Jie (Flower-dancing Festival, an event for single men and women to look for their other half), Chixin Jie (Eat Fresh Festival to celebrate good harvest) as well as Hari Raya Puasa for the Muslims.
Attractions relating to the minority tribes include the Liuzhi Suoga Miao Museum, the first such museum in Asia; the Yi Cultural Park; and a museum of the Buyi tribe, where the biggest Dong drum is displayed.
Liupanshui has a wide variety of snacks, desserts and delicacies. Among the food specialities are an assortment of cakes made from green beans, glutinous rice or wheat; spicy noodles, butter cake; and pork puffs.
I have been to dozens of places in China and so far, I like Liupanshui the most. It was so beautiful that I forgot to snap some shots most of the time.
Most importantly, tourism promotion here is not yet at full blast.
Compared with more famous destinations in the country that boast similarly awesome landscapes, Liupanshui has minimal crowds.
It is as peaceful as Fraser’s Hill in Pahang.
There are no direct flights from Kuala Lumpur to Liupanshui. You either take a transit flight or fly to a nearby Chinese city and switch to public transport.
It is worth the hassle if you want a tranquil holiday away from the crowd.
You can mingle with the pure and simple rural folk, be surrounded by spectacular scenery of mountains, lakes and orchards, and indulge in fresh organic vegetables and fruits straight from the farms.
Go before the Chinese discover this nirvana, you know what I mean!
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