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Ping 'an and the Dragons backbone

Longsheng, China

I got the bus from Yangshuo on yet another wet day in China. I took 3 buses actually over several hours but it was well worth the effort to get to the old chinese village of Ping 'an.

As the bus closed in on our destination up a winding mountain road we entered a bank of clouds and I cursed my luck again thinking that my trip all this way would be wasted. I was dropped off at the village gate and was still in the cloud. Ping ‘an’s centre, where I would be staying in one of its many guest houses, was about 20 minutes walk up the hill. So flanked by prospective landladies I trudged up the steps. The place looked surreal shrouded in cloud, the strange, gravity defying, traditional dong style houses looming out of the mists. However as I reached my selected guesthouse I also got above the clouds so I now found myself in an ancient chinese village that looked a bit like it was floating in the sky.

The area is famous for its rice terraces first cultivated in the 14th century they follow the contours of the hills, up to altitudes of around 1300 meters, seemingly endlessly. All of the fields are still in use so there are funky bits of bamboo irrigation system dotted about the place too.

I had set aside the nest day to walk amongst them.

So next morning I set out on my walk, I intended to head away from the touristy area (there were a ridiculous number of chinese tourists here too) and walk to the next village along the ridge. The other reason to get off the main tourist route was to get away from the particularly persistent local tribal woman who were insistent that I should photo them with there apparently Guinness world record breakingly long hair. Once onto the path to the next village I was completely alone and didn't see a sole for the next 3 hours, it was ace you’d walk through a bit of pine and bamboo forest turn a corner and be greeted by yet more ridiculously engineered fields. The effort the went into the original creation of these things must have been immense.

I reached the village and then headed back to my hotel, there was a round walk but it involved another 3 or 4 hours of my time and there were rumblings of thunder around me. The weather had been kind up to then, a nice fresh breeze to walk in but it didn't take long to change the well trodden paths turned to streams in moments as it began to poor down and I was soaked despite my best efforts to leg it back to the hotel. Was well worth the drenching though, the highlight of my trip so far!

The storm worsened and continued all night but by the morning it had passed and the weather was glorious, just in time for me to catch my bus out of there!

permalink written by  Dan on March 22, 2008 from Longsheng, China
from the travel blog: Been there, Dan that!
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