On my second day in Guilin, I joined a tour out to the rice fields, thinking that I really must have a walk around the city where I am actually staying at some point.
Heading up to the fields which are tiered around the mountains, our guide told us about the other crops grown in the area – sweet potato, pumpkin, coriander and chilli.
I’ve really enjoyed the food here for the last few days, after finding it fairly bland (apart from in Xi’an) in the North. (Yes, I’ve walked far enough to visit a couple of restaurants and a market – I find hunger fairly motivating).
Before reaching the rice fields, we stopped at a village to see the Yao people perform the traditional Long Hair Show.
To be honest, the title hadn’t really sold it to me and neither had the description: ” The Yao people are famous for having really long hair. You’ll see that.”
A fairer summary is: the Yao people are in the Guinness Book of Records for having incredibly long hair, often over a metre long. The show includes traditional dances and the women demonstrate how they braid their hair and pile it neatly on their heads.
After lunch it was a cable car up the mountain with my new friend Assim from Iran. We compared notes on visa applications and I also took the opportunity to ask her about life for women in Iran. Challenging, new rules and regulations, every month but there is a lot of hope with different women taking action.
The view over the fields was stunning.
The crop had already been harvested and in this area, Alan (our guide from yesterday was back!) told us that there is only one harvest per year. In other places there are two, but the climate doesn’t support it here.
The Longji Terraces are some of the oldest in China, over 2300 years old. There are terraces in every corner of the valley and the mountains. Wherever there is water and land, the terraces are planted.
One word of warning if you visit… if you see an open field, with paths to walk on, that looks like a beautiful spot for a photograph, and is already full of people…
Don’t go in.
We found ourselves locked in by an old lady who demanded payment to release us.
Several women in the field were furious at this and a row erupted. I asked a man who had been taking photographs for us how long this would last.
“Oh, this could go on all week,” he said.
Comforting words, I felt.
*Featured Photo: Longji Terraced Rice Fields