Prior to booking up to the rice terraces, which have various names – Longji rice terraces, the dragons back bone and Longsheng rice terraces seem to to be the three most popular names, we were told that 5 minutes there is more than enough time to spend.
Another person told us that 1 day is more than enough time to spend.
The reviews online said it was a great place so we weren’t really sure what to expect.
I have already mentioned the Jizhaigou national park area and I sort of expected the rice terraces to be similar to the national park. We were hoping it wasn’t like that at all.
And we were lucky, it was nothing like the park, there were not really massive amounts of crowds, there was space to walk around and the views were very nice.
The area of Guilin is fairly small so when we were picked up, we knew that we had a 3 hour journey ahead of us. Prior to arriving in China, a 3 hour journey would usually be met with a sigh and few expletives and a general complaint about how that was some length of time just go and look at something.
However, we were saying how it was quite a short joureny, keep in mind that we took a 25 hour train journey to get to Guilin so were starting to appreciate the size of China.
The journey to the rice terraces took approx 2 hours and then it was about another 1 hour to where we were going which was the parking area near Dazhai village.
Within the rice terraces, there’s a lot of different villages and of course the rice terraces where the villages work.
The people that we saw working were older looking people. I mean people who were older than us, from about later 50s onwards. The woman working the fields were all quite small in height and were carrying baskets that were more than half the size that they were. The baskets were often full.
The speed that these people could move around the fields were quite impressive. While we were huffing and puffing like Daphne Broon going up a flight of stairs and these people were putting us to shame.
At the car park where we were dropped off at, the road pretty much ended so the only option was to walk, someone suggested it was about a 3hour walk to the top. There was also a cable car so we took that up to the top.
The 3 hour guess was a load of old cobblers, the cable car took about 20 minutes and offered some lovely views over the rice terraces and of the villages below.
When we got to the top, we headed towards the path that would take you back down. A short time in, our poor planning was to come back to haunt us. We had packed plenty of water but not anything to eat and quickly realised that we were getting quite hungry.
When we got to the first village, we found a restaurant which was empty but there were people working outside of it. As we were looking at the menu and guessing what things could have been, a Chinese girl who didn’t work there but could speak English come over to offer some help.
With her help, we secured some “pig with local vegetables” a side of rice and some “fried noodles”. They ended up being really nice so that was lucky.
While eating, a man who worked there came in and spoke to us – at least, I think it was to us but we had no ideas what he was saying. The newly appointed translator from before came to our rescue again and asked if we liked wine, which we do.
The guy duly decanted some clear stuff into quite a small glass. The ‘wine’ was rice wine and it looked, smelled and tasted nothing like any wine that we have ever had.
It was more like a spirit than a wine and it tasted like I’d imagine mixing straight vodka with straight rum would taste like. Audrey didn’t like it so I was forced to drink it – out of politeness you understand.
So with a bit of a healthy glow and a full stomach, we got ‘maidan’ (the Chinese word for the bill) and made our way down towards the next village.
The rest of the day was spend walking through the rice terraces and through the villages and not encountering very many people. The funny thing is that this place ended up being what we hoped the national park would be like instead of what it actually was like.
Near where we had to be picked up, there was a guy selling passion fruits and he had a knife and plastic spoons so that you could eat them there and then – they were great things so I think I’ve found a new thing that I like to eat.