Thursday, February 24, 2011

Longsheng Journal Day 18 Dragon's Backbone Rice Terraces

Night temperatures are below zero all week but no need to fret, let's escape to China! Last week we ventured down the hill after a tasty lunch, our guide Linda instructed us to take a different route for some different views. Down the stone tiled pathway, a make shift souvenir stall tended to by a Yao lady dressed in traditional costume, just like the dancers at the performance. I admired the authentic looking silver jewellery, good quality with fine details but no customers in sight. Along the way we noticed only a few shops were minded by the Yao, Linda said they only come to town during peak tourist seasons, perhaps this was why their stores seemed temporary.Across the way, bamboo poles to display a large number of hand woven blankets, throws, tablecloths, all meticulously hand stitched in various designs and lovely colors. So many to choose from, but there's no room at home!
Walking down the path, we followed the small group of local tourists that was part of our group. On the left a rooster pecked at the grains drying in the sun, no one seemed to mind.
We spotted some Yao ladies with baskets of souvenirs, some attempted to make a sale, others called out to tourists offering a private hair combing performance. Linda advised us to say "bu yao" when we don't want something, we both said it and the selling stopped.
A small shaded area, the air cool and fresh under the bamboo trees. A peak through the opening at some buildings, white sheets were hung out to try, could these be hotels?
A glance at some colorful umbrellas and blue tents, a bright accent in the shade.
Back in the sun, baskets filled with dried branches, the attached seed pods looked like soy beans, was there a soy plantation nearby?
A different turn took us to these working horses who were resting under the banana trees. Though much smaller in size than their Canadian cousins, they were ruggedly built, each ate out of a bucket containing grain.
We continued on, Linda said there should be some rice fields ahead. Alas! The legendary Dragon's Backbone Rice Terraces, which we came across while researching for things to do in Guilin.
We read that the rice terraces were built by local ethnic minorities about 600 years ago, they start at the foot of Longji mountain and circled around layer by layer until they reached the peak.
A closer look at the nearby summits, I was thankful for this shot as the camera had great difficulty focusing through the mist. Each level was carved out of the mountain, the labor must be unbearable in the intense heat.
We began to notice the group of grey roofs at another hill, more hotels? Judging by the number of white sheets hanging out the windows, they could very well be!
Some buildings were in a smaller group by themselves, a lot of windows in these ones which meant there were a lot of rooms. If we had known there would be accommodations we would have considered staying overnight.
Another grouping off to the side, these appeared to be smaller in size than the ones above. It would be so nice to wake up to the sunrise on the mountain top.
The graduating hills in the distance, a layer of harvested terrace in the foreground. It must be harvest season, most of the fields looked dry and empty.
Some of the terraces were covered by a luscious green growth, could they be growing vegetables too?
On closer look there was also patches of black on some of the layers, the air reeked of smoke, a common farming practice in China was to burn garbage for fertilizer.
More black piles amongst bundles of grain. In the midst of cultivated land a few roofed structures, much smaller in scale than the ones we saw, no other buildings nearby, we did not think these were hotels. Our guide Linda said the Yao lived on the mountains in wooden houses, there would be 3 levels, bottom for animals, middle of kitchen and top for bedrooms. Could the ones below be Yao dwellings?
One last shot of the distant mountain tops before walking on. The rice terraces were sure a delightful part of our tour, join us next week for another episode of the China adventure as we continue our way down the hill!


  1. The terraces are amazing. I wonder what they consider appropriate garbage for burning?

  2. Hi P.K.: I wonder that myself too, I tried to research the answer and came across rice husks for burning so I think that would mean inedible plant material like the stalks.

  3. what incredible photos! found you on a trackback from my blog (thanks!) and so glad i did :) thank you for the view of these incredible graduated hillsides!