GUIYANG (guìyáng) lies in a valley basin, encircled by a range of hills that hems in the city and concentrates its traffic pollution. Established as a capital during the Ming dynasty, modern Guiyang is a patchwork of elderly apartment blocks rubbing shoulders with glossy new high-rises and department stores, all intercut by a web of wide roads and flyovers. The effect may be downmarket and provincial – compounded by the cheap market stalls clogging the main streets every evening – but Guiyang is a friendly place, whose unexpected few antique buildings and a surprisingly wild park lend a bit of character. There’s enough in here to fill a day in transit, and it’s worth making an easy side-trip to the ancient garrison town of Qingyan.