Tuesday 17 July 2012

Guilin & Longji Rice Terraces

9th-10th July
We arrived in Guilin about a week ago for a short stop before heading to Yangshuo. We had pre-booked a trip to the Longji Rice Terraces, or Dragon’s Backbone as they are known (or Longsheng according to the Wiki page).

These are about two hours north of Guilin City. Before heading to the terraces we were treated to a ‘Long Hair Show’ from the women of a near-by village. They are part of a Chinese ethnic minority and have some peculiar customs when it comes to their hair. First-off, they never cut it – some of them have 2m-plus hair. But it’s not left to blow in the wind – there are strict rules about how it should be styled. If you’re an unmarried girl, then it all needs to be tucked under your hat, ready for your future husband. As soon as you’re married, out it comes, but it’s got to be carefully wrapped around your head, like a snake. Finally, when you have a baby, you’re allowed to use the final style, wrapped around but with a large bunch at the front. You can see the three styles in the photo below.

It's all about the barnet
The show itself was about an hour: 50% singing and dancing and 50% humiliate-the-westerner. Luckily, despite some pretty strong peer pressure, I resisted and this guy got picked to ‘marry’ a local girl.

Big Danish bloke (in the middle)
All good fun, although his new wife didn’t look too happy about it.

"Don't touch me"
After lunch it was off to the Dragon's Backbone rice terraces. According to our guide, they took 500 years to complete at a rate of about one terrace per year.

Seven Stars and the Moon - count 'em
Rice terraces
Nine Dragons and Five Tigers - I can only see eight and three, myself

The view changes dramatically through the seasons: in spring, the rice hasn’t sprouted yet so they are waterlogged and reflect the sky; in summer, as you can see from the photos, they are lush and green with growing rice; in the autumn they turn bright yellow as the rice grass ages; finally, in winter, they are covered in a blanket of pure, white snow. There's some good pictures here.

It was all extremely pretty. We walked around the area for about an hour and a half before catching the bus back to Guilin. Overall, a lovely day out.

Current Location: Yangshuo until 18th July
Next Stop: Nanning

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