As we gained elevation up into the Longji Rice Terraces my travel pillow pumped itself up and felt like a bower constrictor was wrapped around my neck. We’d left our backpacks in Guilin and packed a small bag for an overnight stay. The hostel we booked was near Tian Tou village which was a one hour hike away. We were walking mainly up-hill, along steps (because it’s China and they love steps) amongst all the rice terraces and the villages consisted of matching wooden houses. Every hotel looked the same; I think Craig said ‘oh there’s our hotel’ half a dozen times. It wasn’t in the bloody village, it was up a mud road waaaay up on a hill above all the terraces. The views from the patio were amazing though, but the hotel itself wasn’t so great. The rooms were nice, minus the AC unit that sounded like a jumbo jet was taking off and lack of hot water, actually lack of all water for that matter. It was off season and felt like an absolute ghost town.
We had to ditch our rule of only eating in busy places as there was nowhere open to eat except for asking our chain smoking hotel owner who cooked us up the blandest meals possible and we had to eat it in the freezing cold with unfriendly cats meowing at our feet but not letting us stroke them.
We headed out and followed pathways around the terraces to numerous viewpoints. Longji means dragons backbone, and these tiered terraces were everywhere, some of the fields as old as 700 years. They went steeply down hill sides into the valley and would rise up lone hills in big circle terraces leaving a flat round paddy ie field on top. Sadly they weren’t at their best due to it being winter. They were a bit brown and drab unlike the photos i’d seen where they were fluorescent green, but they were still very impressive and I loved the shapes and curves of them swirling down the valley.
The Yao people call this area home and we passed lots of them through the villages. They were all very smiley and always said hello, in Chinese of course. They are known for having extremely long, shiny hair which they wrap into a large bun across their forehead. I kept my tatty hair hidden under my hair so they wouldn’t judge me.
A day was enough for us and we booked a shuttle bus back to Guilin the next day. We woke to thick fog and no views out of our window but soon enough we were above the cloud and it lay in the valley below us.
The shuttle bus turned out to be a passenger car with just us and another couple for the same price as the uncomfortable bus we got up. As we drove down the windy road we saw a car like ours had spun off and was stuck in the 2ft ditch/gutter that lined the road. Ten minutes later we passed another one on the opposite side of the road with a man trying to use a jack to get them out. Then a bus had a crash and the left side was dented and windscreen shattered. Geez! It was a little drizzly but the conditions didn’t seem that bad. Come to think of it we had a very close crash in the bus up the mountain getting within inches of a truck round a tight bend. The worst was yet to come though, when an identical model to our car was almost unrecognisable; basically halved in size from impact and was now on the back of a truck being towed to the city. I don’t think anyone would of survived that crash, it looked awful. To really bring it to life a crowd of people in a village literally threw firecrackers right at our car and ahead of them was a body wrapped up and being carried away by a bunch of men for a funeral.