We are all moved into our new apartment! It was a rough few days of scrubbing and painting and more scrubbing, but we’re here now, and very happy to be in our cozy new (mold-free) place! We are about half unpacked, and are emptying our suitcases by priority. First, I unpacked the tea 🙂 Tonight, it’s Oolong that we are enjoying. It was purchased at one of the many shops along ZhongShan Lu in Xiamen during our holiday. But before I can get to that, I must finish writing about Guilin!
Our 3rd day in Guilin was spent at the LongJi Rice Terraces. Emily picked us up bright and early, and we took the 2.5 hour drive to one of the three minority villages there. Our wonderful tour guide paid great attention to our personalities, and brilliantly brought us to the most calm of the 3 minority villages. The village where Emily took us has only been open to the public for a year and a half, and (minus some satellite dishes) the people here are still living quite traditionally, nestled in these beautiful rice terraces.
As we walked through the village, we saw elderly women taking care of small children. Emily explained that nearly everyone who is physically capable of working is either in a rice field or selling goods to tourists,so the elderly stay at home and watch the children. Nearly everyone in town was dressed in their ethnic group’s traditional clothing. Both the colour of the fabric and the stitch work are unique to this minority group, and they still dress this way to honour their traditions (and probably because the tourists like it! haha…).
This picture I did take myself. We were far enough away that she couldn’t see us haha! She is picking chili peppers. They grow more than just rice in LongJi!
As we hiked through the village and up the mountain, we saw horses and dogs, and heard many roosters calling. The town was quaint and both Dave and I were so happy to be away from the city, in this quiet, simple atmosphere. The smell of cow manure was welcome and the cool mountain breeze was refreshing after the heat in Guilin city. This particular day was the highlight of our stay in Guangxi Province.
They followed us down a little ways, probably hoping for some food. They might have also just been interested in seeing what the Lao Wai were up to!
As we hiked, Emily told us all about the rice fields and rice. I’d never seen a rice plant before, so it was very neat to see how a food that sustains the better part of the world’s population is grown. She showed us the difference between long grain and sticky rice plants. She also explained that in the springtime, these fields fill with water. The way these fields are built to be cascading down a mountainside was not a mere coincidence. Gravity works as a brilliant irrigation tool, and seeing as how rice needs a great deal of water to grow, this method of growing the plant is very successful. We arrived in LongJi just days before the crops are harvested, so we got to see them in their golden splendor.
Eventually Emily lead us to a set of stone stairs, going up to the peak of the mountain. I was really able to appreciate the 11 flights of stairs I’ve been climbing daily to get to the apartment, because the trek wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been! The view was beautiful the whole way up, and I soaked in the quiet and the smells of nature. Living in a city is exciting, but nothing beats fresh air and silence.
The scene at the top of the mountain was amazing. The two hours it took us to get up there were worth every step. I took a video because no picture alone could do the scene justice, but the video is too large to upload 🙁 I’ll see if I can post it on facebook eventually. For now, here are some pictures of that incredible view…
The walk down was just as nice as the walk up, though it took a lot less time. We stopped for lunch in the village, and were treated to some herbal fruit tea, which I am now definitely addicted to. We were served a bamboo dish (because Emily overheard me say that I love bamboo), and a taro dish (because Dave had never tried Taro…Emily is SO thoughtful!!) and finally, a chicken and mushroom dish, which was made with white meat, so that we didn’t need to worry about bones! In China, chicken is chopped up, and you have to eat around shards of bone with your chopsticks. All westerners hated it. Emily knows her clients so well…I love that girl!!! Also served at lunch was a special rice that is roasted in bamboo, as well as pig blood soup. Emily originally ordered it for her and her husband (because she still hadn’t learned that we’ll eat anything), but was happy to share and let us have a try. It wasn’t something I’d necessarily order myself, but if it’s ever on a table in front of me, I’d try it again!!
A neat shot I got while coming down from the peak. Emily took a different route because she knows Dave hates seeing the same thing twice (it became an ongoing joke throughout the trip)
Well, I had originally intended to finish writing about Guangxi tonight, but it would appear I’ve already gone over my word count goal (I try to keep my posts around 1000 words so I don’t bore anyone), and I still have more to write, so I suppose there will be a part 4 to this part of the trip! I hope I haven’t lost any of you yet!! Thanks to everyone that’s been following me and especially to those of you who have written such nice and encouraging things in the comment section. This project means so much to me, and I’m so glad some of you are enjoying it as well 🙂