One of the highlights of our trip so far has definitely been the few days we spent walking in the mountain rice terraces of Longji, three hours outside of Guilin. As you know, Samwise is not really one for cities (often not venturing beyond the Tamar) so it was great to great back into the countryside again!
We took a bus to the village of Dazahi from where it was a 45 minute walk up to our hostel. We left our big bags in Guilin, but if we had been feeling lazy there were some old ladies, who looked about 70, who were desperate to carry our bags up the hills for us. We couldn’t face the shame (and are too tight to pay) so carried them ourselves.
The views of the rice terraces are incredible. The area spans 70sq km and is dotted with little villages, many of which can only be reached on foot.
On the first day we had some amazing rain and thunder storms, but that made it look all the more dramatic. The fields are flooded every March which makes them look like dragon scales, hence the name, and the rice is harvested in October. It seems like it could look completely different whatever time of year you went.
On our second day we got up to watch the sunrise from a viewing platform 30 minutes climb from our hostel with the great Chinglish name, ’Music from Paradise’. This was a bit misty, but beautiful and definitely worth the 5.30am start.
It was so nice being out of the city, away from the car horns and pollution, that we were very chilled out by the time we left.
The journey back however soon brought us back to reality though, being crammed into the sweaty bus with the driver flying down the mountain, overtaking on blind bends and beeping all the way!
Once back in Guilin, we headed out again and finally were approached by someone trying to pull off the famous Chinese tea house scam! I thought it would never happen. A friendly chap with excellent English started chatting, following us around the lake. He seemed very nice but we could tell something was up – first he tried to soft sell us massages, then tickets to the acrobatics show that night (and we happened to pass the theatre at that point), before bringing our the big gun as we tried to ditch him: “My family’s tea house is just over here, and they are about to start a ceremony. Do you want come?”
No thanks, we said, “we’ve just had some tea”. And then we dipped into a supermarket and left via the back!