Trading city life for remote villages in the South China Karst region might seem an unlikely choice for expats but, as Thomas Bird discovers, some wouldn’t have it any other way.
The South China Karst is a region of extraordinary topography – a land defined by limestone crags, seemingly otherworldly in their gravity-defying composition. The karst may be nothing more than a product of several millennia of limestone dissolution, but it’s easy to grow misty-eyed when confronted with this natural spectacle.
Historically, this area, which spans the provinces of Guangxi, Guizhou and Yunnan, was a hotbed of ethnic insurrection and separatist movements. The region proved so difficult to pacify that the Chinese have long dubbed it “the land of a hundred barbarians” and even today, ethic minorities, as well as local Han, eke out lives as removed from mainstream affairs as one can be in today’s China.