Early in the morning, we got on a bus in Guilin that took us to a bus… which took us to a bus… that took us to a bus… which finally took us up to the mountains to a place called Longsheng. It’s only 100 km away from Guilin, but it was a 3 and a half hour ride. I loved every minute of it though – the road winds through the amazing countryside, up the hills, crossing rivers and passing little villages. This was proper Mainland China.
At the end of the bumpy road, the rusty bus kicked us out – relieving us from our pain – and we found ourselves at the bottom of Longsheng Rice Terraces. Friendly locals offer to carry you all the way up in one of these stretchers. They also offer to carry your backpacks in bamboo baskets, but we kindly refused.
Hiking up the hillsides to get a view of the panoramas, we also got a glimpse of the traditional Chinese rural life and architecture. Surely some of it was just for tourism (again, only Chinese visitors), but the further up you walked, the less commercial the place got. You could also leave the touristy areas completely behind you and go on proper hiking trips in the mountains for more than a day, which definitely would have been an incredible experience.
The most beautiful time to visit is late May, when the water is pumped onto the paddies, the first rice begins to grow and sun rays at dusk and dawn are reflected by the water. The layers of green rice shoots and layers of rice during summer and fall must be just as magnificent. Well, we visited during the most unspectacular time of year – where nothing was growing and everything was muddy.
We stopped at this pretty lunch spot to try some sticky rice with taro and sweet potato, cooked in bamboo. The ingredients are stuffed into the bamboo cane, plugged with a corn cob and then cooked on the open fire. The wrapped towel on the head seems to be in fashion here.
The next morning, before boarding the train to HK, we had to pay the street stall around the corner one last visit (like all other morning before). For the last time, we got some poppy seed buns, sweet pork buns and chive buns. It’s what we had whenever we were too tired of being adventurous/courageous to order blind from the menu or simply too lazy to try something new. That or bubble tea. I could have bubble tea for breakfast, lunch, dinner.