Sunday, June 28: This morning, I sleep in until 9:00 after waking up at 4:30 and staring at the ceiling for a long while. I shower in my room but must use the hair dryer in the common room, which seems really weird, blowing my hair dry in full view of other guests. I eat a small breakfast of a scrambled egg, two slices of bacon, two pieces of toast, and coffee, and then head out for a walk.
I have to travel back to Nanning today, but my train from Guilin to Nanning isn’t until 8:10 tonight. I purposely scheduled a late train so I wouldn’t be rushed when coming back from the rice terraces. I figured when I bought the ticket that I could leave Ping’An around 4:00-5:00, as it takes 2 – 2 1/2 hours to get back to Guilin. However, nothing is ever that straightforward in China. I discover that there are only two buses each day directly from Ping’An to Guilin Railway Station, 9 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Because this bus goes directly to Guilin, I don’t have to get off at Heping and then stand by the roadside and catch the local bus back to Guilin, and then catch another city bus to the train station. If I take this 2:00 bus, that means I will arrive in Guilin at around 4:00-4:30 and I will have almost 3 1/2 – 4 hours sitting around in the train station. This is not an appealing option. 😦
The only other option is to take one of the slightly later buses to Heping; these leave Ping’An at 3:00 or 5:00. If I take one of those, I must wait by the roadside at Heping for the bus to Guilin’s Qin Tan Bus Station, arriving there around 4:45 or 6:45, respectively. At that point I have the additional hassle of catching the city bus in Guilin to the train station. I’m afraid I’d be cutting it too close by taking the 5:00 bus. Since it’s a choice between either the 3:00 bus with all the bus changes or the 2:00 DIRECT bus, and since there is only a one-hour difference between a hassle-free trip or a trip full of hassles, I decide to leave on the 2:00 direct bus, meaning I must get an early start on my hike to Nine Dragons and Five Tigers, also known as the Dragon’s Spine.
Does it sound complicated enough? It is.
Heading out from the Longji International Youth Hostel, I have a view of some of the terraces (below). I head out of the village in the opposite direction I walked yesterday, making my way up and up.
Finally, I can see the village behind me on the hillside, and on the other side of the valley, I see the fabulous Nine Dragons and Five Tigers.
I’m at a lower spot on Nine Dragons & Five Tigers than I was on my previous hike. I know I somehow need to make my way up to the higher viewpoint.
I walk around a point and come to these terraces shaped like a bowl.
After this bowl, I come to a path leading into the forest, so I retrace my steps back to another view of Nine Dragons & Five Tigers.
I can see people walking on another path above me, so I follow the convolutions and make my way up to it. At that higher level I get some magnificent views of the Dragon’s Spine. I really does look like its nickname and is simply amazing.
The terraces are wonderful from this higher viewpoint, and I realize I didn’t have this view the first time I came here in November (a walk along the longji rice terraces from ping’an to nine dragons & five tigers).
What an amazing place these terraces are! I adore them. I could come here every year and never tire of them.
Finally, after walking around at these heights and taking hundreds of pictures, I head back along the trail that the guide led me on in November. I’ll make my way back to the village and see enjoy more views, taking my time as my bus to Guilin doesn’t leave till 2:00. 🙂