Despite the pouring rain, Robyn and I decided to take a tour of the famous Longji Rice Terraces (as seen on Planet Earth and Wild China). It was either that or the caves that line the Li River but apparently these caves are lit with gaudy neon lights, so we opted for a more natural attraction. Before arriving at the entrance of Longji, we stopped at a village of the Yao people, an ethnic minority group of Guilin. They are famous for women with beautifully long and black hair, which they tie in a snail-like fashion above their heads. We watched a cheesy show that highlighted their cultural traditions, such as their rituals of courting the opposite sex. When a Yao woman is interested in a Yao man, she will pinch his bum and to reciprocate, the Yao man will step on her toe. It was kind of weird seeing their village turn into a tourist attraction but to look at things positively, the profits they obtain from these shows and tours in the village is split evenly amongst the Yao living in the village.
Onto Longji – It could not have rained more today and even though we preemptively purchased some plastic ponchos, which were more like giant plastic bags, we still got soaked. My new fake Toms were definitely not water resistant and I hiked the many stairs with soggy feet to view theSeven Stars Accompany the Moon (which are really just crescent shaped peaks of the terraces).
Even with the downpour, it was totally worth it. As soon as we were above the clouds, the mist cleared and I have never seen anything more breathtaking that this view. The terraces cover the mountains and I still can’t figure out how they managed to start planting rice on these peaks 500 years ago. The stairs leading to the peaks cut through the middle of the village and I was surprised to see hostels and hotels on the mountains. Something to think about for my next trip to China.
We didn’t make it to the very top but we were high enough to see almost all of the Seven Stars. The stairs leading up are pretty treacherous and there is no railing and absolutely nothing to break your fall. I noticed some tourists opting to have themselves carried up the stairs (on a bamboo stretcher of sorts) than walk.
Guilin has been absolutely wonderful. Next stop: Shanghai.