A colleague invited to us attend a large scale company training day come holiday get-together. The venue was the Miao Stockade Village苗族风情寨 near Jiangbei Airport, a compact reception and hospitality complex previously unknown to myself.
Companies in China love such venues, as they offer banqueting halls large enough to cater, even accommodate for hundreds, if not thousands of employees. Yet there are more advantages, still.
The surroundings are usually quiet rural areas, far removed from the distractions of city life, so attendees rarely have a destination to slip away unnoticed.
Another clear advantage is reduced cost, as the secluded rural lands they occupy are far more cost effective compared to the main city, allowing entire companies to host lavish events on a more regular basis.
While the settings are quite rustic, these stockade villages and mountain resorts make for an amazingly pleasant stay. You can still find all the amenities you would normally have, plus there’s fresher air, the rarity of silence, and often a range outdoor activities.
On our way in, we turned off the motorway before the airport, then followed Baidu Maps up and down some steep broken roads, feeling that curious blend of confidence in technology, yet the uncertainty of driving along such routes in the middle of nowhere.
Sure enough, we passed a few signs directing us to the village, and the first sight was the quite random display of T-Rexes, triceratops, a pterodactyl chilling on its back, and some others hatching from eggs.
We parked in the overflow carpark up the hill, and saw a fleet of off-road buggies perfect for racing along the country mud tracks.
In the surrounding fields and small bamboo forests, there are opportunities for picking fruit, or arranging a paintball session that Chinese people call ‘CS’ here, named after the popular computer game Counterstrike, if I’m not incorrect.
Once auntie Guo showed us to our round table, I politely slipped off to explore the site and take some photographs.
Other than the giant banqueting hall, the main pull is the whole goat barbecue, which people mostly eat over the winter as a social occasion in Sichuan and Chongqing. There’s a choice of an open but undercover communal hall, small private rooms, or larger Mongolian style yurts replete with mahjong table.
The last section I found under the main banquet hall was a corridor full of mahjong rooms, and an open area where visitors are encouraged to beat cooked glutinous rice with large wooden poles, then eat small portions the doughy mixture rolled in sugar powder, otherwise known as ‘Zanba糌粑.’
The Miao are one of the official ethnic minorities in China, and they have styled this stockade village with additions of traditional Miao decor, such as the bamboo pole walls, more attached to the ceiling with seas of red cloth hanging down, and intricate straw hats spaced around them.
Around lunchtime, the enticing aroma of country cuisine wafted around the venue, and in my experience, the catering and atmosphere in these venues have never disappointed.
I have attended such events a good few times in the past, most recently at a country resort on Tieshanping铁山坪 mountain, the less developed cousin of Nanshan, divided by the Yangtze River. I’ll cover this resort and more about exploring Tieshanping in the future.
Finally, though it’s a little difficult for tourists to experience these events due to their location and the need for an invite, but the determined traveler can still take a ride and visit independently, as long as anything like the goat barbecue is ordered in advance.