Monday, November 19, 2007

Ping’an - Dragon's Backbone Rice Terraces

Ping’an is a village in the middle of rice terraces on what is called the Dragon’s Backbone. It is a Yao Minority village. I said in my entry about Guilin that I saw a girl with hair down to her knees and that she was from the Yao Minority. The guide on the Li River cruise in Guilin talked a little bit about the Chinese minorities and said the Yao women cut their hair twice in their lifetime. Once when they turn 18 and once when they get married. The lady at the train station in Guilin was the only one I was with her hair down. The women around Ping’an wear it up in a bun and I think if you pay them for a photo they will take it down but I was to cheap to find out. This is some of the Yao women from a distance.

The bus dropped me off a few hundred meters below the village of Ping’an and walking with my backpack up to Ping’an was one of the hardest walks that I have done on this trip. I need to really lighten my pack in some way or break down and pay one of the many people that want to carry it for me.

After finding a place to stay and dropping off my pack I walked up to the number 2 viewing area that looks over some of the rice terraces and the village.

I spent the rest of the day enjoying the view and a couple of beers with a couple of Spanish people that I had met on the bus coming up to Ping’an. They were an interesting couple where the man seemed to have been everywhere and did it on his own and this type of travel was new to her. She had only being to a few places in the past and always on tours.

The following day I wanted to walk to the number 1 viewing area and maybe another of the villages. When leaving the village I ran into a little dog and even though he would never let me pet him he seemed to walk along with me for a long ways. When I was about to the number 1 viewing area I ran into a group of Yao women that wanted money to take their pictures or buy some of their cheap junk. After leaving the number 1 viewing area and heading to the next village I seemed to have picked up a couple of unwanted guides in these Yao women. For a few kilometers I was being followed by a dog and 2 longhaired women.

View from the number 1 view area.

I lost one of the Yao women at some point and kept telling the other one no to any of the questions about buying stuff or paying for photos or buying lunch. I was setting at the top of one of the hills on the path when the Spanish people and an English couple past me with their 2 unwanted Yao guides. Not long after this my guide got the point that I was not going to pay her and disappeared. I was happy to be on the path by myself and feeling that I could go at my own slow pace with no one waiting on me.

Here is a picture of my Spanish and English friends and their 2 guides way out in front of me.

I had just got use to walking the path alone when a women in a field started yelling at me. I did not know what this was about until she got close enough and found out she wanted to sell me lunch also. I ask the price and at first said no but I had a unwanted guide again and she was carrying some food from the field with her so made me feel even worse when she was waiting on me. Here is a picture of my lunch lady being my guide.

I decided to have lunch with the lady when we got close to the village and it seemed there where a bunch of ladies waiting to sell someone lunch. I said I was going to eat at my new guides house and it seemed to start a bit of bickering between the different ladies.

This is the first view I had of the village I was walking to.

My guide prepared lunch for me and her friend brought me something to drink. I really enjoyed watching her cook the lunch. Except for the rice it all was prepared in a stir fry type of pan over a burring piece of wood. I had rice, fried celery with loads of garlic, eggs cooked with some type of greens and what I think where fried yams. I loved the fried yams and I believe the yams had been in the baskets she had carried back from the field. I had agreed to pay 15 Yuan for lunch but when I was done eating she wanted 40. I don’t know how she came up with 40 and we talked a little about this and I finally understood they wanted 6 Yuan each for the 2 drinks I had so with the food this was 27 Yuan. I grumbled a lot but agreed on 30 and honestly was not the least bit unhappy but felt I had to seem displeased. They offered to guide me on through a couple of more villages and to a bus that would take me back to Ping’an. I turned them down and I returned to Ping’an via the way I came. I really enjoyed the walk back alone to Ping’an taking my time and just enjoying the countryside.

When I had been on the Li river cruise I overheard one of the guides talking to one of the passengers about their plans for the following day. The passenger was going to do a tour of the rice terraces and the guide said why the rice has been harvested and said it would not be that special. After seeing the rice terraces and being very impressed it makes me wonder what it looks like at the different stages with the rice growing

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