Arroz! Climbing the Dragons backbone.
28.04.2014 - 28.04.2014 20 °C
Our group travelled the few hours out of Guilin into the mountains to visit the Longji Rice Terraces (Dragon's Backbone). According to the Lonely Planet, they are a marvel of farm engineering, rising up 1000m into the hills with minority villages scattered around. The people are either Zhuang, Yao, Dong or Miao- the most populous people in China are Han. The villages are around 600 years old.
It was a bit of a cramped ride, one of the English girls had to sit on a little wooden seat in the van. The road was very windy and narrow and there were a few rock falls. Our driver had no qualms about overtaking on blind corners, tooting his horn as he sped round (I have since discovered there are absolutely no road rules in China, dangerous overtaking is entirely the norm).
We arrived at the base of the terraces and our driver looked determined in taking the car up what looked to be a muddy slippery cart track, why walk up the hill when you could possibly drive? Thankfully he was persuaded to leave the car in the car park and follow us up the mountain on foot with the promise of lunch at the top.
The locals make some money carting up visitors belongings in basket backpacks, many of them with brightly embroidered clothing and elaborate hairdos. I tried to take photos of these ladies but they were too quick, so mainly I have photos of their backs. I also thought I would be asked to pay for the privilege. We were invited by a local to have lunch at her restaurant at the top of the terraces.
I think we started our walk at the Zhuang village, Ping'an. The villages are beautiful and simple- houses made of rock and wood. The steps up the mountain are paved with what looks like quartz or marble.
The rice paddies are empty at the moment, I think they are in preparation for this seasons plantings, not yet filled with water. I can only imagine what it would look like with rice fully grown.
We reached our lunch stop slightly before lunch in the village of Tiantouzhai. We had to order the food and climb the rest of the way to allow them to prepare it. We were having some local delicacies- pumpkin, wild vegetables, potato and pickled vegetables, bamboo sticky rice and chicken cooked in bamboo. The last two dishes were really interesting as the food was stuffed into large bamboo poles and then cooked in an open fire.
Sandra and I now wished we had planned a night up at this village, it was so peaceful, calm and quiet, such a juxtaposition to the craziness of Guilin and Shanghai.
We returned that evening incredibly happy that we had the chance to visit this beautiful place.
Next stop Yangshuo courtesy of our skilled Chinese driver.