Thursday, April 24, 2008

Guilin and the LongJi Terraces

This day turned out to be the most memorable day of the trip for me. We left our hotel early in the morning for the 50 mile ride to the LongJi Terraces and the village of Ping'An. The village is accessed via a ticket office, a minibus ride, and a ticket checking gate. It sounds touristy, doesn't it? Yet, it isn't a Disneyland type mock-up, it's real village where real people live and grow their rice, and go about their business. A lot of them now make their business the tourists, but the village is still a fascinating example of traditional life.

At the minibus parking lot, women were trolling around with postcards, bracelets and embroideries. This one in particular latched onto me trying to sell me something. I told her "Later", and scurried up to the gate, glad to be shed of her.

This new prosperity is helping people; we saw two new homes being built as we climbed up to "Seven Stars" where lunch had been arranged. The buildings jut out over the hillsides and are all wood with no nails used in the framing. However, the roofs are dark grey clay tiles, and the homes have modern windows.

All construction materials must be carried up the hill or salvaged from old homes like the roof tiles. Here are windows being carried up. Notice how the pole is bending under the weight? Glass is heavy, but these people are extremely strong and hardy. Every excursion involves thousands of steps up and down the hills.

In fact, everything comes up the hill on foot. And if a tourist feels they can't walk up, the locals will carry them up in a sedan chair. For a price, of course.

While walking up we saw many interesting activities: farmers working the rice terraces,

the Yao women washing their famously long hair,

sticky rice being cooked in bamboo,

strange foodstuffs,

and cute little kids.

We finally made it up to the top where we caught our breaths, enjoyed lunch at (believe it or not) a hotel, took in the view, and pondered this amazing culture.

And my little friend back at the parking lot? Yes, she found me. And yes, she sold me a bracelet and some postcards. And she seemed quite smug about it too.


Beverly said...

What a fascinating concept. I guess it would be similar to planned communities we have here in the states. I wonder if they are self-sufficient for all those that reside.

Paz said...

Thanks for sharing your trip with us. I'm enjoying reading about it and looking at your wonderful photos.


Mary said...

Well it sure isn't England is it Laura? So interesting though and all your pics are fabulous. Some of the food certainly looked mysterious - think I would have passed on several items there!

Loved the terra cotta warriors.