Farming the terraced rice fields
The Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terrace supports about 180 families who live and work in the area. They make their living farming the surrounding terraced rice fields and growing vegetable crops. Traditionally they live in wooden homes with three floors like the houses we passed by the river’, and in the village. Ground floor is usually for stock/animals, next floor for people and one above for rice and food storage. Two ethnic communities the Zhaung and Yao live in harmony in the village, working the Terraced Rice Fields to support themselves through self-reliance and subsistence.The rice fields are not just about the scenic beauty of the terraces, but the people who live, work and make a living here.
Walking through the village one felt an atmosphere of harmony and contentment, everyone quietly going about their daily work with a smile and a friendly nod. A young man sits diligently making bamboo dishes (used in the Restaurant); an old man fills his pipe as he sits on a stool outside his front door.
A woman sitting outside her house next to four huge clay storage pots spoke a friendly greeting (I think we passed this lady on the way down, as we were climbing up to the village); two other village women chatted together as one did her washing in the flowing stream, another washing veggies under a running water pipe.
Lunch – Terraced rice fields
About half-way up the climb to the Rice Terraces we stopped in the village for a freshly cooked lunch in a delightful open restaurant with a great view of the terraced rice fields below. A relaxing meal with a cold beer! Since we had all ordered independently the young waitresses had a few headaches working our bills out at the end of the meal. However with a bit of patience and good humor it was all sorted. The waitresses looked so colorful in their traditional garments.
After lunch we set of to the top of the Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces; you can see the Dragon’s backbone from different vantage points. The rice terraces are so named because they resemble a dragon’s scales, while the summit of the mountain range looks like the backbone of a dragon. Always a light mist covering the distant mountains. At a lookout spot, for a small fee, village beauties in their traditional dresses pose for a photo with the Dragon’s Backbone as a background.
There is also a post office, just a roofed bamboo shelter, where you can buy special stamps and a postcard of the Dragon’s Backbone rice terrace to send home, which I did. I didn’t really expect to see the postcard ever again as the months went past, however about eight months later it turned up in my mailbox much to my surprise and delight.
Terraces upon terraces
And now the view in the valley below. Absolutely stunning, what more could I say! So neat and precise, terraces upon terraces of freshly planted green rice, some with young plants still covered in water, silvery white in the sunlight. A few of the smaller rice terraces planted with veggies. What a journey just going to the vegetable patch for your veggies every day? I guess I would have liked it to be greener all over, this was early April; another month perhaps. We took our time admiring the magnificent scenery before us. The Dragon’s Backbone rice terrace is an amazing sight. It’s hard to believe that this wonderful panorama is created by man!
Valley of the Terraced Rice Fields
The area is also known as the Valley of the Terraced Rice Fields. Construction of the Dragon’s Backbone Terraced Rice Fields began during the Yuan Dynasty some 700 years ago. It continued on through the Ming Dynasty, until completed in the early Qing dynasty (1644-1911). The Dragon’s Backbone rice terraces range in an altitude from 980 feet to 3,600 feet and cover an area of 25 square miles. The longest terrace measure one “mu” or Chinese acre, equal to 25 square miles. Can you pick out the ancient flagstone pathways that the villagers use to traverse the rice terraces?
Walking back down the terrace on an ancient flagstone pathway, one could only marvel at the breathtaking spectacle of the Dragon’s Backbone Rice Fields and man’s ingenuity and hard work. Another once in a lifetime opportunity and adventure.
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