Travelling Guizhou Province, China

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

I spent a few days looking around Guizhou. It is (or was) the poorest province in China, a place ‘without three li of flat land, three days of fine weather, or three coins to rub together.’ It’s also a place where, clearly, an awful lot of development is happening.

IMG_8659 - highway Rongjiang to Guiyang - 540▲ Yet another Guizhou freeway tunnel

As you’ll quickly see out on the roads. That severe shortage of flat land means that roads and railway either have to wind around and go up and down or, in the new China, soar across valleys on viaducts or pierce through hills in tunnels. Driving around the province on recently constructed freeways you hardly seemed to exit one tunnel before you entered the next.

IMG_8475 - viaduct construction, near Zhaoxing 540▲ Guizhou viaduct construction

In those interludes between the tunnels new bridges and viaducts seemed to be in constant construction. A new high-speed rail link between Guangzhou and Guiyang (the capital city, population 1.2 million) is scheduled to open before the end of 2014. That will reduce the travel time between the two cities to four hours.

IMG_8649 - highway Rongjiang to Guiyang - 540▲ 21 new BMWs

You can’t help thinking that if you were travelling around some bottom-of-the-statistics American state or an impoverished region of Europe you wouldn’t be seeing anywhere like the same level of infrastructure development. Come to think of it you wouldn’t be seeing anything like it in California, New York, Texas or the industrial heartland of Germany! Speaking of which driving back to Guiyang we constantly overtook truckloads of new BMWs, each truck toting 21 new Bimmers! The double track top load – 14 BMWs – made the trucks so wide that they could only get through the tunnels by driving right down the centerline, straddling both lanes.