The Dragon Back Rice Terraces
This truly was a magical place... with breathtaking scenery.
It was quite the event just getting to our hotel. Luckily, I had researched enough to know that we should not attempt to carry our suitcases on our own. When our driver stopped at the entrance to the village and several people came towards us with baskets, we knew what to expect. No English was spoken as we negotiated the price to carry both suitcases.
One of the suitcases was too heavy for one man to carry, so it was placed in a special carrier. Note: Many of the carriers we saw were little old ladies!
It was worth the hike up to our hotel. We had the most amazing view from our hotel window!
This shot was taken with the window open - just stunning!
A quick lunch at our hotel before a mini-hike. They had a sweet little dining area.
... with an awesome view, of course.
We enjoyed a local specialty, rice with bacon, cooked in bamboo. The locals call it zhutongfan (baked bamboo rice).
They put the rice, along with peanuts, bacon, beans or other materials into the bamboo tubes and grill it on an open fire. Very tasty.
We headed out for an hour-and-a-half hike on our first afternoon. We were very lucky, as there were very few tourists the entire visit.
Located in Longsheng County in China, the Longji Rice Terraces are one of the most magnificent sights we have seen.
They can be traced back 1000 years ago, to the Yuan Dynasty; however, most of the rice terraces were built during the Ming Dynasty, 500 years ago.
The terraces are distinctly different during the four seasons of the year. In the spring, the seeds are planted so you see rivers of glistening water. In the summer, lush green shoots (this is what we saw). In the fall they turn a golden color and in winter, they are covered in a layer of silvery frost.
Living among the rice fields are ethnic minority groups. China has a total of 56 Ethnic Minority Groups. In Longji, the three largest groups are the Yao, Zhuang, and Miao.
the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368), many minority groups were forced to flee to the
mountains. Being primarily an agarian society, they needed to find a way
to continue agriculture on the steep sides of the mountains. They ingeniously
turned the mountains into terraced rice fields and have been farming them ever since.
The little village of Ping' An
We stayed in Ping'An, a 300-year-old minority village. There are about 200 families living in this small village.
We saw many of the women wearing their traditional, colorful headwear.
There was a lot of corn...not sure where they were growing it!
Me, in front of our hotel, ready for the "what we were told was a 4-hour walk, but turned into a 6-hour" walk!
The 6-hour walk...
We started the journey in Ping An.
Many sites recommend that you pick up a guide for the walk. We did not have a guide, and we did not have any problems. The path is well marked.
In the next two photos you can really see how the trail twists and turns along the terrace edge.
During our walk we saw many of the local people - most of them working in the rice fields.
The famous longhaired women
The Yao women wear bright pink embroidered clothing with heavy silver earrings. They are famous for their extremely long hair and are listed in the Guinness Book of World's Records.
They only cut their hair twice during their lives. Once when they reach eighteen, and again when they marry. They keep the cut lengths of hair and wear them wrapped around on their heads. The older woman is holding the woman in pink's two cuts of hair. We were teasing her that the long hair was fake. She spoke a little English and was quite funny.
Below she is twisting the cut hair back into her real hair.
Unmarried women coil their hair and cover it with a black kerchief while married women twist their bundles and coil it into a bun on the top of their head. So the woman below was never married.
You can see how the weight of the earring has torn her ear. I read that the larger the earring, the wealthier they are.
The people of this community work hard for very little money.
No cars were allowed in the town and they certainly could not go on the terraces. The common way to carry things along the narrow terrace paths was with a mule.
We thought it was interesting the way he carried his knife.
Don't try this at home. This woman had to be in her late 70's - early 80's. Why was she climbing on the roof?
To tend to her red hot peppers. At least she has a chair to take a rest.
More amazing scenery.
The bright green rice plants looked like ribbons wrapped around the mountain.
A well deserved lunch break. We ate a snickers bar and peanuts for lunch! How about that view?
The terraces looked like a three-dimensional sculptures that changed every corner we took.
We ended our walk in the village of Dazhai.
New friends we met along the hike, all staying at our village. A couple from Amsterdam and one young woman from France (living in India). We had to wait two hours until the bus came to take us back to Ping An. We ended up having dinner with the Dutch couple.
Locals at a store across from the bus stop.
Rain and Rest
The next morning heavy fog rolled in. We thought it would burn off, but by 11:00 the heavy rains started. We did not mind. After the long day of walking the day before, it was nice to take a break and enjoy the unique views the fog brought to the area.
Below you can see two locals carrying a lazy tourist up the mountain in bamboo sedan chairs. We saw 20 or so of these on the day it rained and they were not all Westerners, there were Chinese tourists as well.
After the rain, a very different view of the terraces, equally as beautiful.
We would love to go back three more times so we could see the different seasons of the rice fields. We highly recommend a visit here!
Guilin - Capital of Guangxi Province
We spent the last day and a half of our vacation in Guilin. It was more beautiful and more modern then we were expecting. Still a lack of Engish spoken, but all signs and menus were in English. We found people to be very friendly and they went out of their way to help us.
Guilin has a history dating back more than 2,000 years. It mixes old world charm with modern conveniences... including cheap shopping! You can visit my art blog to see what we bought.
Like many Asian cities, the people used the sidewalks as living areas. Here they are playing cards and dominoes.
As far as the eye can see, people were exercising in the morning in the park across from our hotel.
We were guessing these ladies all worked for a hotel. What fun to start the day with exercise. Check out the young lady to the far right - in her high heels!
Older ladies dancing with fans.
We really enjoyed Guilin. Many people just use it to fly into and then only visit the Karst Mountains and the rice fields. If you come to this area, you need to allow a day or two to enjoy this fun city.