If you're weary of 5-star hotels, paved roads and predictable food, head to China's Guizhou Province during autumn's harvest festival season.
Minority groups make up nearly 40 percent of the province population. With costumes as colorful as their names, the Big Flower Miao, Hundred Bird Miao, Short Skirt Miao and other groups celebrate harvest with festivals big and small across the rural regions of southwestern China.
Serendipity rules here. On my recent trip, our small band of photographers stopped for directions and found ourselves hijacked by a local woman insistent that we attend a certain festival off our radar map.
She jumped on the bus and directed us over a slippery road until we were greeted by a hundred festival goers offering water buffalo horns filled with rice wine.
Travel with a local tour guide unless you're well-versed in the multiple dialects of the region. My guide was trained as a shaman and had the heart of a poet, which made for lyrical cultural insights.
Kudos to Lee Maoquing of Tribal Tours of China and Lin Xue Biao of Global Expeditions.