Friday 22/09 (2/2)
We go to the Longji Rice Terraces, 75 km from Guilin. This (North) part of the Guangxi province is famous for its breathtaking vistas of terraced paddy fields.
For hundreds of years, the paddy fields of Longji Rice Terraces remained unknown to travelers, then everything changed in the 1990s when a photographer moved here. His images of the scenery amazed the world and put Longji firmly on the tourist trail.
After buying the tickets in the main office (before the road starts climbing), we stop for lunch a little bit further up, along the road. We try the local specialties: the bamboo rice and the bamboo chicken.
The main ingredients of the bamboo rice are rice, meat, some spices and some tiny pieces of pumpkin, which are put into a fresh bamboo joint with enough water, sealed with a corn cob and baked on a fire until the bamboo turns black. Bamboo rice has a distinctive flavor of soft roasted rice and bamboo.
When complaining to our guide about the little quantity of chicken flesh (and the huge amount of bones), he explained to us that this is how the Chinese like the chicken; a lot of bones indeed make the chicken tasty…
When complaining to our guide about the little quantity of flesh (and the huge amount of bones), he explained to us that this is how the Chinese like the chicken; a lot of bones indeed make the chicken tasty.
We leave our bags in this restaurant (until after tomorrow) and take only the bare minimum for the next 48 hours (since we have to carry it). Our programme is to do the trek between the villages of Dazhai and Ping’an via the village of Tiantouzhai where we will sleep tonight. It’s indeed around these villages that we can find the most spectacular views on the rice terraces.
We see a lot of plantations of passion fruit in the fields.
We first take the cable cars to Dazhai. Nice view, but the sun is not present.
We then hike up (2 hours) to our ‘Panorama’ hotel (the highest one of the village…), in Hantouzai village; quite steep… Nice rooms, with nice duvet. We are at 1,000m; the temperature is a bit chilly, which is good after these few days of humid and warm weather.
Diner in the hotel: tomato & egg soup, with rice and fried noodles.
We wake up at 6am to see the sunrise on the rice terraces but no luck this morning: the weather is cloudy.
We go back to sleep, until 8am.
Weather is not great; we even have intermittent rains. Not great for the programme of today: a 4- to 5-hour trek between Hantouzai and Ping’an. It’s a nice small path, in the middle of the rice terraces. It’s a bit slippery after rain. Isabelle kindly carries the heavy backpack.
In some places, we can see the construction of new roads, probably to bring even more tourists to this area.
We take it easy, with a few breaks (sometimes to protect ourselves from the rain). It’s a great walk, despite the cloudy weather.
We eat in a small shop in a village along the path, where they prepare rice and eggs for us.
We arrive at one of the most sublime viewpoints (the Nine Dragons & Five Tigers), with its astonishing curvaceous layers of terraces (and also – unfortunately – its hundreds of local tourists), when the sun finally appears!
The last hour, arriving to Ping’an, although by far the most touristy part (we hardly saw 10 people during the previous 4 hours), is the most scenic one.
Our hotel is in the village. The room is probably the gloomiest one we’ve had so far. And the place is very noisy!
Diner on the terrace of the hotel. We are not great fan of Chinese food; we find it greasy and heavy. Sweet & sour chicken for Isabelle while we eat (bad) pasta.
We wonder about the sustainability of the “model” of this type of (terraced) agriculture since the young generation is no longer interested in working in fields (too strenuous); they indeed prefer to open restaurants, shops or hotels for tourists.
It’s the first time that I use earplugs to sleep since the Trans-Mongolian train.