If I had a bucket list of things to see on our trip in Asia then a trip to an incredible rice terrace would be high on the list. We looked at our options and the place that jumped to the top of the list every time was of course Vietnam, Sapa. We researched it a lot and since we were going to Vietnam it was do-able but it seemed to be becoming quite touristy and we would only be able to visit during a big national holiday that would see all of Vietnam and China descend on the hills so we did a little more digging and discovered a rice terrace just outside Guilin. The Longji Rice Terraces.
The trip was, like all other excursions in Guilin, expensive. It came to 22 pound. We could have done it using public transport ourselves but it would have taken over 11 hours with buses and treking. This wouldn’t have been too bad but due to our break due to food poisoning we didn’t have the time to stay there so our one day excursion would have to do.
We were put on one of the only trips which was only Chinese tourists. This meant we only understood about 2 percent of what was happening but there were so many kind and lovely Chinese people on the tour that used their English skills to help us. It was great to meet so many funny and kind people in China.
The rice paddies were spectacular. The bus to get there was …ummm windy and bumpy. By the time we got to the top half the bus was being sick into bags but it really was worth it for this view.
We spent hours wandering to the top. Taking in the sights and listening to the locals setting off their ceremonial fire crackers for the national holiday that was happening the next day. The sound of the fire crackers echoed around the hills and filled the air with the smell of a British bonfire night. My friend from Hong Kong explained why they use the firecrackers. Apparently incense is ghost food. The ancestors eat the incense people burn but demons try to take it. To stop this they set off the fire crackers to scare away the demons.
We reached the top and had a traditional lunch in a tiny village among the Zhoung people. Rice steamed in bamboo and smoked ‘meat’ . I couldn’t get any more information than ‘meat’ but some of it was hairy so it’s probably best not to know.
It was a long day but something i’m really glad we did. It felt like being back at home in Wales. Stood in a huge Welsh valley while at the same time it felt a million worlds away.
On the way back to Guilin the 4 hour bus trip was broken up with a stop off in a Zhoung village. We were introduced to the locals who only cut their hair once in their lives when they turn 16. They unwrapped their hair for us which trailed far behind them. Effortlessly they span it up onto their heads. They only wash it once every two weeks in special oils and it is said that they never go grey. We saw some pretty old ladies and I definitely want what they were having because that hair was silky smooth.
The traditional village did lose a lot of its splendor when after the traditional singing we were brought to the ‘traditional’ zip line. I can’t imagine it was a feature of the ancient Zhoung people but it was great fun.