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Published: November 26th 2011
I made two trips to Longji and spent about four days here in total. As previously mentioned my first visit was with a quick day trip three Dutch lads, who let me slow them down (I apologise for my lack of speed) hiking up to the view point. Thanks for letting me join you guys, and for drinks in the evening :-).
The second trip was a hiking trip to fill a little time inbetween Guilin and the hostel I had booked in Yangshuo, and a little bit of an addition to my itinerary after a little arm twisting by Caro, a German girl from the hostel in Guilin. However before I begin my tales of Longji I'll give you the Conniepedia profile.
The Longshen Rice Terraces (Chinese: 龙胜梯田, pinyin: Lóngshèng Tītián) also named Longji Rice Terraces, Longji meaning Dragon's Backbone, are so named as their sloping terraces resemble dragon scales and the mountain range summit looks like the dragon's spine. Longji holds 13 villages, all precariously built into the mountainside. The most popular being Ping'An, Dazhai and Pinkeng. The villages are home to many minority ethnic groups including and the Yao ethnic people, the women of which are
famous for their 4ft long hair, which they wash in the mountain streams.
(The Terraces are a popular tourist attraction, which means 80yuan 'park' entrance fees and expensive food once inside. Try a student card, my expired YSJ card has saved me a fortune).
The adventure begins.
Caro and I left our big packs at the hostel in Guilin and made our way to the bus station. To Longji from Guilin the bus takes a winding road up and through the mountains as we make our way to Longshen to change for the direct bus to Ping'An and our entrance to the terraces. We arrive mid afternoon to clear skies and a warm breeze, our plan to stay at the hostel for a night and amble through the terraces to Dazhai the following day.
The hostel lies at a mid point in Ping'An village, just after the restaurants and tourist tat and up a winding path, it sits like a swiss ski chalet all wooden beams and cosy carpets. The room is warm and cosy and two Chinese girls snooze peacefully a we leave our bags and head out for some food. We find a relatively cheap
restaurant which is completely empty (usually not a good sign) and order. The food is mouth watering but the rice is to die for. It tastes fresh and wholesome, like it's just been reeped from the terraces themselves, it's starchy but has a slight warm and wheaty taste. I eat at least two bowls! By now its early evening and we make our way back to the hostel and the bar and a beer is calling. In the bar we meet a Portugese woman and we sit and natter for a few hours before we decide an early night is in order, the night ends perfectly, relaxed and breathing in the mountain air.
I awake early to the rumbling of thunder and the rain battering the windows of our room. It's 6.30 we plan on leaving at 8, perhaps it'll clear before midmorning think as I snooze until my alarm goes off. Caro and I get up and dress ready to leave but sit hopelessly watching the rain as we have our breakfast. Marga appears chuckling, we decide to wait a few hours see if the rain clears. I am restless; the thunder, the lightening they make my legs
tingle and ache I need to get outside. So we venture a little outside buy ourselves some rain ponchos and walk to the gates of Ping'An. We walk for 10 minutes before our sexy plastic ponchos are leaking, our socks our sopping and we're mewing like drowned cats. My restlessness is cured by the downpour and we half run through the rain to the shelter of the hostel. Caro says "It's a food day". So we book another night at the hostel and settle in to the bar for some Western grub, a few beers (& a little rice wine, which tastes strangely like carbolic acid) and excellent company. One of my favourite things about travelling alone is the opportunity to meet some amazing people, when you travel alone you are forced to be sociable, you meet like minded people and you bond in a way you don't experience at home.
The day trickled slowly by and as the afternoon dribbled by the sun began to shine, sods law that it beautiful now! However we'll stay another night and Marga has decided she'll join us tomorrow on our hike. We go to bed early and plump from our day
of lazy nibbles and munchies.
The following day we get up early are anxious to leave, the sky is clear and the is already warming the green terraced mountainside. Marga joins us as we begin our ascent through the mountain village to the first viewpoint. Walking through the village so early is peaceful, the locals ready themselves for the day ahead. Halfway to our first viewpoint we pause to let two men carrying a pig bound to a stick pass, further on the path we meet a large group of locals, the pig is lying in a pool of blood and the men are pulling out intestines and stomach. Caro gets in closer for some pictures, I am a little in shock. Five minutes ago the pig was alive and I watched it being carried to its death. This is where food comes from I suppose, can't have bacon butties without that pig!
We ambled on and up past the first viewpoint and found ourselves along beautiful country walk, the kind you find in the Yorkshire Dales, The Lake District or Wales. It was liberating to be away from the city, no cars, no bikes, no
pollution and NO BLOODY HORNS!!!! Nothing but the wind whispering through the rice plants.We were followed by two local women who wanted a little money for 'showing' us the way, however they gave up after they realised we weren't going to buy lunch from them or give them any money for following us.
After a quick snack for lunch Caro and I found a waterful, sticky from our walk we stripped off and jumped in. The mountain water was cold and clear, the water tumbled down the rocks crashing into the pool and showering us with ice cold mountain water. I couldn't stop smiling, the freedom of swimming in a real mountain waterfall, in the middle of China, pure bliss.
By mid-afternoon we had almost reached Dazhai, which is as similar to Ping'An as I am to a middle aged local. Where Ping'An clambers and clings to the mountainside Dazhai lies lazily on the river plain. We had spent the day yo-yoing in front and behind two groups of walkers making the same journey, so when the bus arrived for Guilin we all chatted happily about finishing the walk around the same time. Blissfully tired we arrived back
in Guilin picked up our packs and caught a late bus to Yangshuo, but that is another tale...
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