Longsheng Rice Terrace
In the past I have seen so many beautiful pictures of the Rice Terraces in many countries. Today I was really looking forward to seeing them for myself in China, such a fascinating part of the world. Our tour group journeyed by bus from Guilin to see the Longsheng Rice Terrace at Ping’an, and the White Yao Village. The journey took about two hours. Time passed quickly with interesting scenery and information from our guide on the history of the Longsheng rice terrace.
Fields of Rice
Leaving Guilin we passed many fields of rice already planted or being planted. It was interesting to see two different methods used to plough the rice fields. The traditional method using a buffalo looks a lot easier than using a motor driven hoe. The road took us into the forested hills, winding upwards past running streams of crystal clear water with rocky beds, adjacent hill-sides with traditional brown timbered houses and soft green feathery bamboo. Very pretty scenery.
An arched bridge across the river led us to a rest area and parking for buses (nice clean toilets). On one end of this building is a huge photo of the Yao women with their luxuriant long black tresses. Continuing on, the bus wound its way up the narrow road until the first sight of the Longsheng Rice Terrace and the Huanglo Yao Village came in to view. The terraced rice fields are also known as the Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces.
The Market Place
Stepping from the bus, greeted with smiles and gestures, besieged by the Yao women of the village, in their bright pink jackets, lustrous long black hair wound around their heads. They were selling very attractive silver jewelry at a reasonable price. Elsewhere market stalls had a variety of interesting souvenirs, locally grown vegetables and produce. A colorful local shrine stands at one end of the market with a statue of the local deity.
A couple of young mad-cap girls from our group tried their hand at taking a companion up the winding hillside in a palanquin. For a small fee the local palanquin owners will carry you to the top of the rice terrace.The girls managed a short distance to the first bend and back with with only one stop, amid laughter and encouragement from onlookers. The local lads not sure what to make of them. The girls decided it was much harder than it looked and happily handed the palanquin back to its bemused owner.
The path leading up to the Rice Terrace, stepped in some places and paved in others. I couldn’t help but admire the locals traveling up and down the terrace every day, it is very steep. The locals are so fit! Guest houses, some perched on the lower slopes and some higher up the terraces, houses set into the hillsides on a rock-based terrace.
Long Black Tresses of the Yao women
Stopping for a rest in the mountain village about half way up to the terraced rice fields, we came across the Yao women with their amazing long silky black hair. The Yao women of the village cut their hair only once in their life-time at a special ceremony when they are eighteen years of age. The long hair, after cutting, is kept and used as a hairpiece until their hair grows again. For a few dollars each, these lovely ladies let down their hair for us to see, their hair almost to the ground (shades of Rapunzel). The older women showed us how they managed their hairpiece every day, worn in the same way as the younger women who had not yet had to cut-of their tresses.
The village at Ping’an
Below we could see a man hoeing a rice terrace. A woman from the village makes her way back up the rice terrace with a shoulder pole and baskets. Very steep, no mean feat getting up and down the terrace.
The Shoulder pole or Carrying pole
The shoulder pole carried by this women is a familiar sight in East Asian countries and a bit of an icon, and long held tradition. It can be used by a single person balancing the yoke over one shoulder with an evenly distributed load suspended from each end.
The shoulder pole allows the wearer to more easily move along the pathway and up or down the terrace; through crowded areas at a market, or through busy streets. The shoulder pole can also be used by two people with the yoke supported on a shoulder and the load suspended from the center of the yoke.
On the trek up we gave way to a local villager carrying a hoeing implement over his shoulder, and leading a horse. He was on his way down to work in the terraced rice fields below. This sprightly women from the village, also on her way down the terrace. I wonder how often she travels up and down the terrace in a day?
Continued in my next post…. the Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terrace at Longsheng….
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