My final day with Rong, Ann and John was a trip to the mystical rice terraces of Longsheng. A few hours’ drive from Yangshuo took us through small towns, past dozens of pomelo vendors on the side of the street with makeshift shelters, through winding mountain roads, and green bamboo and pine forests.
Eventually we reached the entrance to the rice terraces. From there we drove up the mountain on a very narrow, winding road to a parking lot just outside the village of Longji. This whole area, as many of the unique wonders of China, has been converted to a tourist destination with admission fees, vendors and an array of hotels, restaurants and entertainment. However, the rice terraces are still active farms and real people still live in the villages and work in the fields for their livelihood and food.
The village of Longji is a small settlement built on the side of the mountain surrounded by terraced farmland. Although the village is inflated with hotels and hostels, most of them look just like the buildings that the farmers live in. The farmers’ homes are usually three stories high. The first floor is for livestock, horses instead of buffalo on the mountain, the second floor is for the family to live on and the third is for grain storage.
Supposedly, the animals on the first floor protect the family from snakes during the summer and putting the grain on the third floor protects it from vermin. The first level is made of stone or concrete nowadays and the upper levels of wood.
We hiked up to one overlook in awe of the terraces all around then we took a path on one of the terrace levels around to another lookout. Each turn presented a stunning view.
We couldn’t see far and it wasn’t one of the big seasons when all of the terraces are green, full of water, golden from harvest or white with snow, but we got a mix with some green, some golden and some with water, thankfully no snow. It was very wet and cold but completely worth it.
That evening we drove Guilin and checked in at our hostel and parted with Rong.