Monday, December 11, 2006

Longji Rice Terraces

After Yanshuo we traveled North to the Long Ji Rice Terraces (also called Dragon’s Backbone Terraces). In this area the local people have terraces whole mountains for cultivation of rice. The sight is really spectacular on so many levels. It is really beautiful, even in the cold mist that pervaded when we were there. Contemplating the amount of work that went into creating and maintaining the terraces is staggering. The people that live here are of two minority tribes, the Yao and Zhuang. It is designated as an autonomous minority region, but I’m not really sure what that means. The two villages that we visited, Longji and Ping’an, were both Zhuang villages. The Zhuang women are famous for their very long hair.

We arrived in the morning and walked up to our hotel in Ping’an. I didn’t realize this before we arrived, but it is around a kilometer from the parking area to the village up steep stairs. This was not a good place for the rolling suitcase so we paid somebody $1.25 to load our suitcase up in a big basket and carry it up to the Li Qing Hotel for us. After having some noodle soup for lunch we set off for the nearby village of Longji. There is a maze of paths through the terraces and after asking the way several times we finally made it. Longji was interesting primarily because there are no hotels and restaurants catering to the masses of tourists as there are in Ping’an. The old houses and the narrow walkways through town are fun to walk through and the village is small enough that there is not too much worry of getting lost.

It was a cold, foggy day and our hopes of seeing terraced fields stretching into the distance were for naught. The clouds occasionally parted long enough to see the next rise in the hill, but never farther than that. We spent the evening huddled around the fire watch a DVD.

The next day was more of the same weather so we walked around Ping’an trying to get a feel for the people and village life. Amongst the hotels and coffee bars there are pig sty’s and chicken coops. For every man passing with a load of bricks to build his family’s guesthouse there is a woman passing with a bucket of slop for the livestock that will soon be dinner for the family or a tourist. Besides the village residents it was interesting to see the Chinese tourists. Like us, they come out of curiosity, and their impractical shoes and fancy city clothes are a stark contrast to the traditional outfits of the residents.

After about 24 hours of bitter cold weather we left for the airport and Hangzhou. We were disappointed to never have had a good view, but glad to have come none the less. See more photos here.

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