Today was incredibly rewarding despite the ups and downs. My morning started with coffee and an American style breakfast provided by my hostel, but quickly turned into minor chaos when no one could seem to tell me where to board the bus they had helped me book tickets for the previous day. Ultimately I ended up missing my first intended bus and just barely making the next one, but once I was onboard I was strapped in for a 2.5 hour drive outside of Guilin to the Longji Rice Terraces. On the way I met a new friend Sun Ai Ling, and we decided to hike the terraces together.
Once off the bus in Dazhai, we walked through a small village that sits at the bottom of the terraces. One of China’s 56 ethnic minorities live here, and it was fascinating to watch the women walk around in their traditional clothes. This particular village is known for the women all having incredibly long and beautiful hair that goes down past their waist – I’ve never seen hair so long. I honestly didn’t believe that it was real, so I asked one of the older woman. She said if I paid her she would show me herself. I laughed and started to make the way up the mountain with my new friend.
The hike itself was steep but not too challenging. We followed a path that at times winds through the rice terraces, other times through bamboo, and even other times through hotels and little shops built up on the mountainside. I could smell fire burning with a hint of incense in the air as we passed through the structures built in the mountainside.
Finally at the top of the mountain, looking down at the rice terraces cutting into the mountainside, as well as the village that lay below, the view was nothing less than breath taking. Mist hung over the mountains in the distance. Sadly the rice terraces were not filled with water yet; some say that when they are filled with water and reflect the sky, they look like the shimmering scales of a dragon, hence the name the dragon’s backbone.
I’m so happy to have conquered the dragons backbone and to have made a couple new chinese friends, from a friendly traveler on the bus to the rice terraces with me to a 19 year old kid eager to practice speaking English with anybody who would take the time to listen. As it’s now starting to rain, I’ve decided to call it an early night and get some rest in preparation for my travel to Yangshuo tomorrow morning!