Longji Rice Terraces

the long hike back from the longji rice terraces to ping’an

Saturday, June 27:  After reaching the entrance of the Longji Rice Terraces, I turn around to return the three hours to Ping’An, taking the lower road and detouring into Longji Ancient Zhuang Village.  The view along the lower road is even more spectacular than the high road, and much less traveled by tourists.  Not that there are a lot of tourists, compared to everywhere else I’ve traveled in China, but it’s more secluded on the lower road.

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

The day is humid but still a bit cooler than most places in Guangxi, probably because of the elevation.

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

I enjoy the views of the land carved out beneath me in curvaceous patterns.

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

looking down at the layers at Longji Rice Terraces

looking down at the layers at Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

up close and personal at the Longji Rice Terraces

up close and personal at the Longji Rice Terraces

water filled rice terraces

water filled rice terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

a neatly carved landscape

a neatly carved landscape

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

daisies at Longji Rice Terraces

daisies at Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

I catch glimpses of farmers working on the terraces today.  These terraces are not only artistic, but are actively worked by the residents.

a Chinese farmer on the terraces

a Chinese farmer on the terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

I take one successful selfie of myself; most of my other photos are a blur.

self portrait at the Longji Rice Terraces

self-portrait at the Longji Rice Terraces

As I continue on the lower road, I can see the Longji Ancient Zhuang Village ahead.

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Here is one of the water sources for the terraces.  The terraces are also watered through an irrigation system much like the aflaj in Oman (The Traditional Aflaj Irrigation System).

springs that water the terraces

springs that water the terraces

I love how the terraces are filled with water at this time of year.  If it were a sunnier day, you might be able to see clouds reflected in them, as I’ve seen in others’ photographs.

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

heading toward Longji Ancient Zhuang Village

heading toward Longji Ancient Zhuang Village

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

The last time I ventured into the Longji Village, back in November, I got hopelessly lost, finally paying a little girl a small sum to take me back to the path to Ping’An (a 5-hour hike to the longji rice terraces at longji ancient zhuang village).  This time, I decide to keep heading up, as I know the road is above me and I’ll eventually find my way to it.

Longji Ancient Zhuang Village

Longji Ancient Zhuang Village

Longji Ancient Zhuang Village

Longji Ancient Zhuang Village

Longji Ancient Zhuang Village

Longji Ancient Zhuang Village

There isn’t much sign of life in the village.  Maybe everyone is napping, or maybe they’re out working in the terraces.

Longji Ancient Zhuang Village

Longji Ancient Zhuang Village

Longji Ancient Zhuang Village

Longji Ancient Zhuang Village

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces with Longji Ancient Zhuang Village below

Longji Rice Terraces with Longji Ancient Zhuang Village below

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

climbing up the Longji Rice Terraces

climbing up the Longji Rice Terraces

corn on the terraces

corn on the terraces

miscellaneous farming

miscellaneous farming

the steps uphill

the steps uphill

farmed terraces

farmed terraces

the outskirts of Longji Ancient Zhuang Village

the outskirts of Longji Ancient Zhuang Village

outskirts of the village

outskirts of the village

corn

corn

strutting his stuff

strutting his stuff

It’s a long walk uphill to make it back to the road that will lead to the path back to Ping’An, and it takes me well over an hour.

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

I like watching the farmers working on the terraces.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

a farmer working the rice terraces

climbing the mountain to return to Ping'An

climbing the mountain to return to Ping’An

Finally, I leave the houses on the outskirts of the village behind and I’m back on the path through the woods.

the path back to Ping'An

the path back to Ping’An

There isn’t much to photograph in the woods, so I just keep walking, even though I’m worn out by now.  I still haven’t eaten a thing all day because I didn’t want to have any stomach problems.

the hike back through the woods to Ping'An

the hike back through the woods to Ping’An

the long walk back

the long walk back

Before long, I’m back at Seven Stars with Moon on the outskirts of Ping’An.  My legs are so tired!!

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

At long last, I’m back in Ping’An and I decide to look for a place to sit down so I can have a late lunch and a beer.

back to Ping'An

back to Ping’An

a vendor selling colorful earrings

a vendor selling colorful earrings

Ping'An

Ping’An

the Zhuang ladies of Ping'An

the Zhuang ladies of Ping’An

shredded something

shredded something

I head directly to my hostel, where I take a cold shower, which feels good as I’ve been sweating like crazy on my hike.  I relax a while and then head out to the inviting Green Garden Hotel, where I decide to stop for a Tsingtao beer and a Hawaiian pizza.

the village of Ping'An

the village of Ping’An

I sit on the balcony where I have a great view of the village.

taking a rest with a view

taking a rest with a view at the Green Garden

view over Ping'An

view over Ping’An from the Green Garden

The light is amazing as is seeps through the clouds. It spreads like melted butter over the mountains.

view over Seven Stars with Moon

view over Seven Stars with Moon

mountain light

mountain light

ethereal light

ethereal light

view from Green Garden

view from Green Garden

view from Green Garden

view from Green Garden

the Green Garden Cafe

the Green Garden Cafe

view from the Green Garden

view from the Green Garden

The proprietor has been very friendly.  He walks me out the door and tells me to come again.

owner of the Green Garden

owner of the Green Garden

I walk back to Seven Stars and Moon, so I can take pictures as the sun goes down.

 

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Categories: Asia, China, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Longji Ancient Village, Longji Rice Terraces, Longsheng County, Ping'An Village, Seven Stars with Moon, Travel, Zhuang people | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

the first half of the hike from ping’an village to the longji rice terraces

Saturday, June 27:  This morning, I decide not to eat anything for breakfast because the last time I took the 5-hour hike to the Longji Rice Terraces and Longji Ancient Zhuang Village, I had a number of stomach problems I don’t care to repeat. I did this hike on November 21, 2014 (a 5-hour hike to the longji rice terraces at longji ancient zhuang village), and the colors at that time were glowing and golden.  Now that it’s summer, the terraces are green and filled with water, making for a whole different experience.

I start hiking through Ping’An Village, where the villagers are already busy at work.

The village of Ping'An from the Longji International Youth Hostel

The village of Ping’An from the Longji International Youth Hostel

view from the deck of the hostel

view from the deck of the hostel

construction in progress

construction in progress

I encounter the Zhuang women in the streets, preparing their vegetables and wares for sale.

ladies preparing vegetables in the streets of Ping'An

ladies preparing vegetables in the streets of Ping’An

I pass by the cheerful sign at the MeiYou Cafe.

MeiYou Cafe

MeiYou Cafe

more of Ping'An Village on the hill

more of Ping’An Village on the hill

some kind of veggies, but not sure what. Rice?

some kind of veggies, but not sure what. Rice?

Rooftops of Ping'An from the hilltops

Rooftops of Ping’An from the hilltops

Finally, I reach the edge of the village, where I have my first view of Seven Stars with Moon.

First view of the rice terraces upon leaving the village en route to Longji

First view of the rice terraces upon leaving the village en route to Longji

Rice terraces

Seven Stars with Moon

Rice terraces outside of Ping'An

Rice terraces outside of Ping’An

Rice terraces

Rice terraces

Rice terraces

Seven Stars with Moon

Rice terraces

Seven Stars with Moon

As I’m walking along the edge of Seven Stars with Moon, I meet two Chinese girls who speak excellent English.  We have a little chat.  They want some pictures with me, and then they ask me to take a picture of them.

me with two Chinese girls

me with two Chinese girls

The path is very narrow, so I have to fall back into the ferns on the edge of a terrace to take their picture.  When I do that, they take a picture of me.

me pushed up against a terrace trying to take a pic of the Chinese girls

me pushed up against a terrace trying to take a pic of the Chinese girls

Rice terraces

Seven Stars with Moon

Then they take a picture of me with Seven Stars with Moon.  I love the names the Chinese give to natural places.

Me at the rice terraces on my hike

Me at Seven Stars with Moon on my hike

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

 

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

I continue on my walk until I reach a little bridge, where I stop and sit for a bit.  It’s quite hot and humid today, as always seems to be the case in Guangxi province.

the bridge on the hike to Longji

the bridge on the hike to Longji

After a long walk through a wooded area, I come out at the other end, near the Longji Rice Terraces, and I get my first amazing views.

heading toward the Longji Rice Terraces

heading toward the Longji Rice Terraces

water in the terraces

water in the terraces

close up of the water in the rice terraces

close up of the water in the rice terraces

I pass some men building a house or a barn, I’m not sure what.

a construction project along the way

a construction project along the way

view on the hike

view on the hike

dragonfly

dragonfly

I catch my first glimpse of Longji Ancient Zhuang Village and the houses and farms on the outskirts.

coming out of the woods and approaching the village of Longji

coming out of the woods and approaching the village of Longji

outskirts of Longji

outskirts of Longji

a flowery view

a flowery view

I pass some Chinese tourists carrying umbrellas even though it is neither raining nor sunny.

Chinese tourists walking in the terraces

Chinese tourists walking in the terraces

lotus plants and rice

lotus plants and rice

the path ahead

the path ahead

the terraces

the terraces

The views are amazing and I just continue on my way.  The views are so beautiful they take my breath away.  As I approach the far end of my hike, there are more tourists.  Chinese tourists generally don’t go in for long hikes.  Most of the time, they stay huddled together in crowds and don’t venture off onto areas by themselves.  Thus, on the hike from Ping’An to Longji, I’ve seen hardly any people until this point, the separate entrance to the rice terraces.

Click on any of the images below for a full-sized slide show.

As I reach the Longji Terraces, there are amazing views of pancake-stacked terraces, as the land has been carefully carved into contours over the centuries.

The Longji Rice Terraces

The Longji Rice Terraces

layers and layers

layers and layers

a contoured landscape

a contoured landscape

The Longji Rice Terraces

The Longji Rice Terraces

The Longji Rice Terraces

The Longji Rice Terraces

The Longji Rice Terraces

The Longji Rice Terraces

the Longji Rice Terraces at the viewpoint

the Longji Rice Terraces at the viewpoint

I finally reach my turn-around point, the touristy entrance to the Longji Terraces.  It’s been a long walk, about 2 hours, and now I will turn around and return to Ping’An, retracing my steps, with a detour into Longji Ancient Zhuang Village.  Because of this detour, it will take me about 3 hours to make my way back.

Tourist shops at the entrance to the Longji Rice Terraces

Tourist shops at the entrance to the Longji Rice Terraces

Tourist shops at Longji

Tourist shops at Longji

I stop for the “official view” with the stone carving commemorating the Longji Rice Terraces.

Stone marker for the Longji Rice Terraces

Stone marker for the Longji Rice Terraces

After one last look at the rice terraces from the stone marker overlook, I begin to make my way back, taking the lower path to walk through Longji Ancient Zhuang Village.

Looking back from where I came

Looking back from where I came

Oh, how I love this place! 🙂

Categories: Asia, China, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Longji Rice Terraces, Longsheng County, Ping'An Village, Seven Stars with Moon | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

a final journey to ping’an and the longji rice terraces

Friday, June 26: I have been determined to see the rice terraces one more time before I leave China, but the idea of it has been daunting.  The journey takes so long, with numerous transfers and hassles, and I have no more 3-day weekends to spread out the effort it takes to get there.  Besides, after fighting hordes of people in Shanghai on the Labor Day holiday in early May, I resolved not to travel on any more holiday weekends in China.  Nonetheless, I gather my courage about me and commit to the journey by buying the train tickets and reserving my hotel in Ping’An.

This afternoon, immediately after my classes end at noon, I make haste to the front gate to catch the bus to the train station. After catching the 1:15 p.m. fast train at Nanning Railway Station, I arrive in Guilin at 3:45.  I go out to the bus stop on the street directly in front of the Guilin train station, where I take bus 91 to the Qin Tan Bus Station, arriving there at 4:00. Then I take the next local bus at the bus station for Longsheng, telling the ticket agent I want to get off at Heping. When we finally get underway from Qin Tan, it is 4:33.

When I arrive at Heping at 6:15, it’s too late in the day to take the regular bus up to the Ping’An parking lot, so I pay a driver at Heping to take me up the mountain 35 minutes to the Ping’an parking lot. It’s a long and winding road over mountains, and I am finally dropped at the Ping’An parking lot at 6:50.  From there, I pay the entrance fee to Ping’An and walk through the gate and up and up and up to the Longji International Youth Hostel, arriving at 7:05.

a woman at work in the garden in Ping'an Village

a woman at work in the garden in Ping’An Village

Even without much delay between the various legs of the trip, it’s a 7 hour trip door to door, as I left the university at noon and arrived slightly after 7:00!  Upon arrival, I immediately order a Tsingtao beer and have a seat on the deck of the hostel to watch people scurrying about in the village.

View of Ping'An Village from the deck of the Longji International Youth Hostel

View of Ping’An Village from the deck of the Longji International Youth Hostel

After my beer, I order dinner as I haven’t eaten anything all day.  With all the stomach problems I’ve been having in China, I didn’t dare eat anything that might upset my stomach when I had such a long trip ahead of me.  I eat some eggs with leeks, and settle in at an early hour, reading my book, The Sandcastle Girls, by Chris Bohjalian.

Ceiling art in the common room at the Longji International Youth Hostel

Ceiling art in the common room at the Longji International Youth Hostel

I have to get plenty of rest because I have a long hike before me tomorrow. I’m so happy to be here once again, because after all the traveling I’ve done in China, I’ve decided the rice terraces are my favorite place.

Categories: Asia, China, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Guilin, Longji Rice Terraces, Longsheng County, Nanning, Nanning Railway Station, Ping'An Village | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

RESOLVED 2015!!!

Thursday, January 1:  Happy New Year!! It’s that time of year again, time to give some thought to the year ahead.  I’m always enthusiastic about turning the calendar to an untarnished new year, and getting a fresh start on what I hope will be the life of my dreams. However, I know it’s a challenge to keep myself disciplined. Accomplishing my New Year’s Resolutions in past years has always been a mixed bag. I achieve some of what I set out to do, and other things I don’t even touch.

“If you have the capacity to be more than one thing, do everything that’s inside of you.” ~ Bishop T. D. Jakes

This is the problem. I want to do everything that’s inside of me. And because of that, I actually never get anything done!

the big dreamer :-)

the big dreamer 🙂

I like to think about what I want to accomplish in different areas of my life.  So here are my resolutions for 2015:

  1. Health:
    1. Try to walk 3 miles at least 5 days a week.  I was doing this regularly in Virginia, but ever since I arrived in China, my walking habit has fallen by the wayside.
    2. Eat healthier food, especially vegetables. I have had stomach problems almost constantly in China, and I need to remedy that situation as it really ruins my outlook on life when I don’t feel good.
    3. DRINK WATER!  This is something I never think to do.  I’m afraid my body is in a state of constant dehydration.
  2. Finances:
    1. After my six-week upcoming holiday, when I’m sure I will spend every little bit I’ve earned on travel, I should attempt save as much as possible to take back home with me in July.
  3. Writing:
    1. Send out at least 20 query letters to agents when I return home in July. I finished the third draft of my novel in May of 2014, but I haven’t yet sent out a single query letter.
  4. Photography:
    1. Be bold!  Practice using the manual settings on my camera and experiment with photos.
    2. Get a photo editing program and play around with photos.
    3. Take a photography class when I return to the USA in the fall.
    4. Rejoin Vienna Photographic Society when I return to Virginia.
  5. Travel:
    1. Travel with Mike up to Yangshuo and Guilin and into Hunan Province, specifically FengHuang and Zhangjiajie, in January. DONE!!
    2. Boats on the Yulong River near Dragon Bridge in Yangshuo

      Boats on the Yulong River near Dragon Bridge in Yangshuo

    3. Travel with Alex into Yunnan Province, especially to Lijiang, Shaxi, Dali and the Stone Forest. DONE!  
    4. I’ll fly solo to Myanmar and stay there for about 2-3 weeks during February, visiting Mandalay, Bagan, Inle Lake, Yangon, and anyplace else we can squeeze in. DONE!
    5. Continue exploring more of Guangxi province during the spring semester, specifically Bama, Mingshi Tianyuan, Zuo River Scenic Area near Chongzuo City, Weizhou Island and Beihei, Sanjiang, Daming Mountain, Longhu Mountain, Huangtao Ancient Town, and Chengyang Wind and Rain Bridge.
    6. Go to Hong Kong for a long weekend.
    7. In Nanning, go to the Liangfengjiang National Forest Park, Guangxi Ethnic Relics Center and the Museum of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, and the Guangxi Science and Technology Museum.
    8. Return to Ping’An and the Longji Rice Terraces in early summer.

      Nine Dragons & Fiver Tigers rice terraces in Ping'An

      Nine Dragons & Fiver Tigers rice terraces in Ping’An

    9. Visit Bali or Sri Lanka or Malaysia when I leave China, on my way back to Virginia in July.
    10. Go with Mike to Iceland as we intended to do last year but weren’t able to because of his mother’s passing away.
  6. Profession:
    1. I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up.  I teach English abroad as a means to an end: to travel.  After countless futile job applications, I no longer have any hope that I will ever break into the field in which I got my Master’s, International Commerce & Policy, mainly because of the age discrimination that runs rampant in America.  Thus, I may attempt to simply return to Northern Virginia Community College in the fall; after that I might attempt to go to Japan to work for one semester in Spring of 2016.  That’s my thought at this moment, anyway.
  7. Language and knowledge goals:
    1. Study Chinese at least 10-15 minutes every day.
    2. Try to learn one new phrase a day.  Make it mine!!
  8. Social:
    1. Try to be more proactive about making friends.  I tend to sit by and wait for people to forge friendships with me, but I need to be bolder and braver about making overtures.
    2. Try to invite someone new to do something once each month.
  9. Spirituality:
    1. Begin a meditation practice, starting with at least 10 minutes a day.
    2. Read books about Buddhism, pilgrimage, spirituality, along with my other reading.  
  10. Reading:
    1. Read 25 books. Here are some books on my reading list for this year:
      1. China Dog by Judy Fong Bates (January 17)
      2. My Last Empress by Da Chen
      3. The Crazed by Ha Jin (March 1)
      4. River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze by Peter Hessler
      5. Colors of the Mountain by Da Chen
      6. The Good Earth by Pearl Buck
      7. Equal Love by Peter Ho Davies
      8. Tales of a Female Nomad by Rita Golden Gelman (January 31)
      9. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
      10. The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
      11. The Memory of Running by Ron McLarty
      12. The House on the Lagoon by Rosario Ferre
      13. The Time it Snowed in Puerto Rico  by Sarah McCoy
      14. When I was Puerto Rican: A Memoir by Esmeralda Santiago
      15. The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau
      16. Still Life with Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlan
      17. Fresh Air Fiend by Paul Theroux (finish)
      18. Video Night in Kathmandu by Pico Iyer
      19. American Romantic by Ward Just

NOTE TO SELF: You have the day ahead at your disposal. Don’t think in terms too great. Think about only what you can accomplish in a day. 🙂

At first dreams seem impossible, then improbable, then inevitable.

~ Christopher Reeve

 ***********************

Ultimately, my dream is to combine writing and travel somehow, either by planning and offering writing retreats in far-flung parts of the globe, or by going abroad for several months at a time and writing like my life depended on it. Writing retreats would combine my natural teaching ability, my wanderlust, and my writing dreams. However, I feel the first step is to get published, so I can establish some credentials, and some credibility. One step at time….. I would love to hear some of your resolutions for 2015.  Please share! 🙂

Categories: Americas, Asia, China, Expat life, Guilin, Holidays, Longji Rice Terraces, Nanning, New Year's Day, New Year's Resolutions, Qing Xiu Shan, Travel, Virginia, Yangshuo | Tags: , , , , , | 54 Comments

twenty-fourteen

In twenty-fourteen, I: Got waylaid in Denver after snow and de-icing delays on a flight from Washington to Burbank, California.  Shared Sunset Rolls and Fire Dragon Rolls, Sapporo and warm saké, with my little sister Stephanie, and then met The Invisible Woman in LA.  On foggy Venice Beach, wandered past muscle men, tattoo parlors, surfboards and funnel cakes, and contemplated the medical marijuana advertised for sale.  Caught glimpses of adorable houses, with secret patios and lazy cats, on a stroll through the Venice Walk-Streets.  Went window shopping on Abbott Kinney Boulevard.  Drove six hours to San Francisco from LA through a parched California landscape to meet my friend Jayne. Laughed at the antics of harbor seals at Fisherman’s Wharf and met Monarch butterflies that looked like clusters of densely packed brown leaves at the Monarch Grove Sanctuary in Monterey. Drove 17-Mile-Drive at Pebble Beach.  Sampled some wine on the Silverado Trail.  Saw the iconic cloud-shrouded Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco from the deck of the Sausalito Ferry. Laughed at the antics of sea lions at Pier 39.  On the way back to LA, vicariously lived the high life at Hearst Castle in San Simeon.  Dropped by Old Mission Santa Barbara, walked through fan palms and California chaparral at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, and ate fish tacos on Stearns Wharf.  Visited the garden at Mission Buenaventura in Ventura.  Met Rosie of wandering rose and listened to the reverberations of classic rock at Bob’s Big Boy‘s classic car show.  Was inspired by a Poets & Writers LIVE! event in Los Angeles, where I embarrassed myself in front of Chinese writer Da Chen (My Last Empress) when he asked me the for the title of my book and a business card (I had neither).  Had cocktails at the Brig and ate dinner out of a food truck on Abbott Kinney.  Took a hike with Rosie around Corral Canyon in Malibu and ate more fish tacos at Malibu Seafood.  Left behind sunny California to head back to icy Virginia (nomad, interrupted).

Click on any of the pictures below for a full-sized slide show.

Saw tundra swans and parchment-like leaves dangling like wind-chimes on American beeches at Mason Neck State Park. Was inspired by National Geographic’s 2013 Travelers of the Year.  Saw seagulls walking on water at ice-encased Annapolis Harbor.  Learned 20 things about Storytelling Photography from National Geographic photographers Ami Vitale and Melissa Farlow.  Chased freight trains and photos along the CSX Main Line at Henryton, Maryland.  Suffered through snowstorm after snowstorm in Northern Virginia, and then searched for spring at Green Spring Gardens.  Heard the thundering roar of Great Falls while strolling with Alex, Bailey and Mike along the Patowmack Canal.  Took a photowalk through the hardscrabble part of Baltimore.  Found the gravesite of the patentee of the Ouija Board at Green Mount Cemetery.  Walked Richmond’s Monument Avenue 10k in the rain with my daughter Sarah.  Drifted with cherry blossoms on the Tidal Basin in D.C.  Said “ahoy, matey!” to pirates at the Privateer Festival in Baltimore.  crisscrossed flowing streams & waterfalls at White Oak Canyon.  Stayed overnight at a sleep clinic to test for sleep apnea. Wandered through flowering trees at the Virginia Arboretum.  Was charmed by wisteria at Dumbarton Oaks.  Finally found spring, after a long and grueling winter, at Meadowlark Gardens.  Celebrated Sarah’s 30th birthday in Richmond by sipping wine with the whole family amidst Chihuly’s Red Reeds at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, topped off by a feast at Bacchus.  Cloistered myself at the Franciscan Monastery. Sampled wine and cheese with the family at Doukenie Winery.  Won prizes in photography competitions through Vienna Photographic Society and had my Hot air balloons over Cappadocia photo featured by National Geographic on Instagram.  Finished the third draft of my novel, Scattering Dreams of Stars, but never got around to sending out query letters.  Applied for 40 jobs stateside and didn’t get anything.  Applied for jobs in China and got an offer from Sino-Canadian International College of Guangxi University in Nanning.  Went on safari with sculptures of metal animals in the “American Metal” exhibit at the Corcoran in its last days.  Was awed by the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.  Opened my heart to water lilies at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens.  Worked on joining hearts with Mike at Eastern Market in D.C. Saw “Words & Letters” made into art at the Athenaeum.  Felt general malaise at a Civil War Encampment at Sully Plantation. (nomad, interrupted).

Searched in vain for a happy 4th of July, as both my mother-in-law and my father were admitted to the hospital; my father’s problem was corrected without complications, but my 88-year-old mother-in-law’s health went into decline and she went into hospice care in early July.  Went with Alex on a road trip to New Hampshire, where we stayed in a cottage on Lake Winnipesaukee, seeking a reprieve from Shirley’s illness and our sadness.  Drove the Kancamagus Highway through New Hampshire’s White Mountains, topped by a hike at the Flume Gorge. Stopped to buy a bird nest ornament in a garden shop in charming Woodstock, Vermont, where I was mistaken for Alex’s girlfriend (ha!). Admired painted “meeses” and mountain lions in Bennington, and scrambled over rocks at Kaaterskill Falls in New York.  Returned home to watch helplessly as my mother-in-law continued to decline; she passed away on July 17.  Went in search of light-crazed sunflowers in memory of Shirley, who loved gardening.  Visited the George Washington Masonic National Memorial as we waited for Shirley’s memorial service, which was on Thursday, July 25.   Took our 12 1/2-year-old border collie, Bailey, to the vet when he got sick the day after Shirley’s memorial service; he died the next day, sadly, at the human age of 88.  Searched for summer, and solace, at Solomons, Maryland, where empty boats conversed in a language of their own, groaning, clanking, lamenting and whining.  Hiked at Calvert Cliffs State Park where a kid told me: “My dad says your name is Stranger.”  Dropped off my passport at the Chinese embassy to get my work visa, and while in D.C., stopped in unannounced at Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral for a brief tour in darkness. Came full circle and revisited summer at Meadowlark Gardens, as I did when I first arrived back in Virginia from Oman (nomad, interrupted).

Shirley and Bailey: both left us in July

Shirley and Bailey: both left us in July

Sampled rum & grapefruit juice with Mike at Mango’s upon our arrival in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Was coated like a sugar cookie by a maelstrom of sand at Ocean Park.  Savored every bite of mofongo — mashed plantains — at Raices in Old San Juan.  Had a close encounter with the Baño Nazi on Paseo de la Princessa.  Took a self-guided walking tour through colorful Old San Juan, admiring views of Bahia de San Juan along the periphery of El Morro.  Came face-to-face with an iguana at Castillo de San Cristobal and together we enjoyed views of the Atlantic.  Climbed into a cloud forest on the Mt. Britton Trail at El Yunque rain forest.  Ate fabulous Caribbean Benedicts at El Convento.  Sought shelter from the rain at Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico.  Visited the “ghost town” of Aguirre in the south of the island.  Was disappointed at Hacienda Buena Vista to see only the historical buildings and not any actual coffee plants.  Got roared at by painted lions at Ponce and took pictures of the historic firehouse and famous landmark, Parque de Bombas.  Looked in vain for 007 (“Bond, James Bond”) and Jodi Foster at the Arecibo Observatory, the setting for Goldeneye & Contact.  Enjoyed a day at the Ocean Park Beach and gorgeous sunset at El Morro before returning home to Washington. Continued to work with Mike on our reconciliation after our seven-year separation and felt good enough about it to go abroad again.  Spent the next two weeks getting ready to move to China.  Left the U.S. on August 30 (notes from north america).

Arrived in Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region on September 1 and was installed in a gritty apartment with a view over a lotus pond.  Spent the first couple of weeks in Nanning getting a phone, internet, a medical exam, and the visa.  Took a walk with another new teacher, Caleb, on Qing Xiu Shan in dreadful heat & humidity, where we saw koi in Sky Pond and a 1350-year-old Cycas King in the Cycad Garden.  Climbed to the top of Longing Tower where we saw views of Nanning and the Yongjiang River.  Encountered communication problems when haggling in a Chinese market.  Experienced the fringes of Typhoon Kalmaegi as it brushed past Nanning. Spent a frustrating day trying to figure out how to buy train tickets to Guilin.  Finally acquired a bicycle after much rigmarole and rode to Nanning Zoo, where I watched Chinese visitors feeding junk food to the animals.  Began fall semester on September 22.  Encountered students with funny English names: Maleah, Kitty, Yuki, Albert, Hebe, Lancy, Shally, Amber, Azura, Nyako, Spring, and best of all: Yoyo, Echo, Coco, Smoothies and Evita.  Heard tell of other teachers’ students: Biscuit, Yogurt and Potato.  Was flummoxed when trying to find simple household products such as shampoo, conditioner and floor cleaner at Nan Bai Supermarket.  Learned how to say Xièxiè (thank you), Ní hǎo (hello), and Wǒ yào yīgè daizi (I want one bag).

Overcame numerous communication problems and made it to Yangshuo for the National Holiday.  Took a motorized bamboo raft with hundreds of other Chinese tourists down the Li River to Xingping, the scene of the picture on China’s 20 yuan bill.  Strolled around Yangshuo and Green Lotus Hill, where I was surrounded by magical karst formations.  Met Audrey, the niece of an elementary school classmate of mine, at Demo Tiki Bar and then ate Thai food together, accompanied by lots of wine, at Rock-n-Grill.  Bicycled with Audrey through the Yangshuo countryside, where we took an almost-skinny-dip in the Yulong River.  Ate a late lunch at a Passion Fruit Leisure Farm.  Went on a motorbike tour through kumquat orchards to Xianggang Hill, where we saw karst formations with names like Nine Horse Fresco Hill, Lad Worships Goddess, and Grandpa Watching Apple.  Traipsed through the Seven Star Tea Plantation.  Took my own private bamboo boat ride down the Yulong River.  Returned to Nanning, where I began teaching an English Interest Course on Storytelling Photography.  Got hooked on Mad Men and watched all the seasons.  Walked through artistic trellises at the Guangxi Medicinal Plant Garden.  Encountered crazy communication problems on a trip to see Detian Waterfall on the Sino-Vietnamese border.  Straddled the border of China and Vietnam in a bamboo boat and was sprayed by the Ban Gioc-Detian Waterfall on my 59th birthday.  Received a cake for my birthday from the Student Union; I happily shared it with some of my colleagues, cherry tomato toppings and all.

Went to a student-teacher Halloween party on a sweltering night where everyone was sweating in their costumes.  Visited the Guangxi Museum of Nationalities, where I saw excellent exhibits on Guangxi’s twelve indigenous ethnic groups.  Ventured to Nanning People’s Park where hordes of Chinese people were dancing, singing, and playing traditional instruments. Watched all 8 episodes of True Detective and began to watch Breaking Bad.  Took a trip to Ping’An, where a Zhuang guide led me on a hike to see Nine Dragons and Five Tigers and a Yao long-haired woman.  Posed in traditional costume at Seven Stars with Moon.  Took a 5-hour hike alone to the Longji Rice Terraces, where I got lost numerous times.  Spent an afternoon of disillusionment at Elephant Hill Park in Guilin.  Treated myself to a whole body massage, a foot massage and pedicure in Guilin to try to alleviate my four days of sickness while traveling.

Encountered a styrofoam lady on the way to Wal-Mart.  Watched a Chinese love story with English subtitles, Fleet of Time, that shed some light on the lives of my college students. Watched all 10 episodes of Fargo Survived another challenging Chinese bus ride to Yangmei Ancient Village. Spent Christmas day alone wandering downtown Nanning, sipping a Toffee Nut Latte at Starbucks, watching The Taking of Tiger Mountain at Wanda Cinema, and finally Skyping with my family in Virginia.  Went to a Christmas party arranged by my students, where I attempted to make proper dumplings, played and won a REAL game of Chinese checkers, and sang karaoke.  Went to a free acrobatics show in Nanning.

Happy New Year!  May all your dreams come true in twenty-fifteen. 🙂

Related posts:
twenty-thirteen
weekly photo challenge: my 2012 in pictures

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a 5-hour hike to the longji rice terraces at longji ancient zhuang village

Friday, November 21:  After I finish posing for photos wearing the traditional costume, I climb back up to the Seven Stars with Moon viewpoint, all the while looking for a path to Longji Ancient Zhuang Village and the Longji Rice Terraces.  I climb all the way to the top, and having seen no paths at all branching off of the main path, I walk back down again. This is only the first time I become what some might call “misplaced” on my long day’s hike.

rice terraces on the way from Ping'An to Longji

rice terraces on the way from Ping’An to Longji

Curvaceous terraces

Curvaceous terraces

ornamental grasses and rice terraces

ornamental grasses and rice terraces

Finally, I find a path about midway down the mountain that appears to head west.  I had passed this path before but a sign said the path was for farmers only.  However, this time, I notice that the path actually splits in two.  One is just a dirt path; I believe that to be the farmer’s path. The other one is paved with stones, and that seems to have no sign at all.  I think this may be the path to Longji.  I go ahead and take the gamble because I’ve seen on the map that the path to Longji should branch somewhere off of this main path toward the west.

the trail to Longji

the trail to Longji

I walk for quite a while along this path, maybe 15 minutes, admiring the beautiful rice terraces along the way.  I come to this little covered bridge where I sit for a spell.

a little covered bridge

a little covered bridge

I continue along the path.  Sometimes I’m flanked by steep banks to the right and forest to the left.  I love all the ornamental grasses and some of the autumn colors I see along the way.

continuing on the trail

continuing on the trail

terraces along the path

terraces along the path

the trail continues

the trail continues

grasses galore

grasses galore

ornamental grass frame of the mountains

ornamental grass frame of the mountains

a resting place along the way

a resting place along the way

views along the way

views along the way

During my walk in the woods, it would NOT have been pleasant had my stomach acted up. However, it would have been convenient.  I could have easily stepped off into the ornamental grasses without a soul seeing me.  But it behaved itself during the entire hike in the woods, much to my relief.

pretty fall colors

pretty fall colors

the path ahead

the path ahead

Finally, after about a half hour, I begin to spot signs of human habitation.  Most of the time, I’ve had this path to myself, although I did pass a couple of small families headed in the opposite direction. They seemed to be tourists, as they were dressed up as the Chinese usually are when they travel; they definitely didn’t look like farmers.

coming to the edges of the village

coming to the edges of the village

Finally I seem to be on the outskirts of Longji.  The houses are still spread far apart, but the further I go down the road, they congregate into increasingly close-knit huddles. I pass this woman working along the roadside, but she doesn’t even look up.  I guess she’s used to seeing tourists in these parts.

a farmer working

a farmer working

Soon after I pass this farmer lady, while on the outskirts of the village but not in the thick of it, suddenly I feel my stomach churning. It is letting its mind be known and I begin to panic.  I look around at my options.  I see a woman walking across the road close by; she’s carrying two baskets on a bamboo pole.  I’ve found the Chinese don’t often understand the word “toilet” but they more often understand “WC.”  I say to the woman, my voice probably sounding desperate.  “WC?? WC??”  She waves me off, though I don’t know how she does it when balancing that bamboo pole over her shoulders.  She obviously doesn’t want to have any interaction with a foreigner.  She walks behind a building along the side of the road and quickly disappears.

By now I’m calculating whether I can run back to the deserted path through the woods and fields, or if I can find a bathroom VERY SOON on this village road.  If worse comes to worst, I may have to crouch down right on top of one of the rice terraces, behind whatever tuft of grass I can find.  I look at the building nearest me.  It doesn’t look like a house; it looks sort of like a warehouse of some kind. I think maybe I can sneak behind the building.  I go to the backside of it and HALLELUJAH!! It’s a bathroom!  It’s not marked as such on the side facing the road, but on the backside, there it is, two doors, one male and one female.  I’m saved!

Oh sweet relief!  I, who have traveled through some of the most notorious countries in the world for causing stomach problems, including India for 3 weeks, have hardly ever had this kind of problem while traveling.  I guess I’ve been lucky so far.  Let me tell you, it is NO FUN to have to worry about this when you’re far from home.  At this point, I begin to wonder if I should have stayed in bed another day.

As I cannot allow myself to choose turning back, I continue on. I think I’m good for a while, and I have come all this way.  I come upon some new and being-constructed buildings along the road, but I can see the Old Village down the hillside.  I can also see a long curvy road upon which a lot of tourists are walking.  I keep walking ahead.

pretty wooden building on the outskirts of Longji

pretty wooden building on the outskirts of Longji

Now the terraces are becoming more dramatic.  There is a deep valley and lots of mountains with terraces cut into all of them.  Of course my camera won’t capture the ones on the opposite side of the valley because it’s too foggy and cloudy.

terraces in Longji

terraces in Longji

I pass a pretty little stream along the way.  I’m loving all the ornamental grasses I’m seeing today.

a little stream

a little stream

approaching the main viewpoint in Longji

approaching the main viewpoint in Longji

rice fields

rice fields

Finally, I reach the hugest rice terraces I’ve seen here.  They look like slices of turkey layered on a huge platter.  Of course the rice has all been harvested, but here the terraces are filled with water, and that gives them a different look altogether.

the main viewpoint of terraces in Longji

the main viewpoint of terraces in Longji

I keep walking along the upper road, but I can see there is a lower road where people are walking.  I determine that after I go to the end of this road, I’ll return on this lower road.

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

The landscape is amazing!!  I just can’t believe how gorgeous it is.  The only thing that would make it better is if it were BEFORE the harvest and the sky were blue.  Or if it were sunrise or sunset.

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

The beauty of it takes my breath away.  I’m stunned by the amount of work that has gone into building these terraces over the centuries.  According to China Highlights: Longji Terraced Fields, the terraces were first built in the Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368) and were completed in the Qing Dynasty (1644–1911) by the Zhuang people and Yao people.  The irrigation methods used make the best use of the scarce arable land and water resources in this mountainous area. There are about 66 square kilometers of terraced fields in southeast Longsheng County.

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Rice terraces and house

Rice terraces and house

the Longji Rice Terraces

the Longji Rice Terraces

Eventually, after takings scores of photos, I begin to walk back along the lower road.  I assume it will lead into the Longji Ancient Zhuang village and then back up the hillside to the road, where I can retrace my steps back to Ping’An.

As I’m walking, two beautifully dressed young Chinese ladies ask me if I’ll take their photograph.  When people ask me for this favor, I don’t hesitate to ask for the favor in return.  This is the picture they take of me.

Me taking a rest along the way to the Longji Ancient Zhuang Village

Me taking a rest along the way to the Longji Ancient Zhuang Village

I get closer and closer to the village.

Approaching Longji Ancient Zhuang Village

Approaching Longji Ancient Zhuang Village

Getting closer to the village

Getting closer to the village

Approaching the village

Approaching the village

Before long, I’m at the edge of the village.  I know the road back to Ping’an is up the hill, so I venture into the village, knowing that I just need to go uphill when I’m ready to leave.

the wooden houses of the ancient village

the wooden houses of the ancient village

clothing corn and bamboo

clothing corn and bamboo

I make my way out of this ancient village easily enough, and I walk uphill through more terraces and farmland.

Terraces

Terraces

walking up from the village

walking up from the village

admiring the views

admiring the views

looking down on the village and farms

looking down on the village and farms

I sit on the stone steps to take a breath and this is my view of the farmland.

farming terraces

farming terraces

As I get higher, I see I’m about to enter another village.  I figure again that I’ll once again head uphill when I’m ready to leave this village.

almost back to the road

almost back to the road

The problem is that once I’m in the village and surrounded by the buildings, I can’t tell what is up and what is down.  I pass by some ladies chatting around their motorbikes and I head off in what I think is an upward direction.  After walking and walking and walking around and about on convoluted walkways, I return right back to the point where the ladies are talking around their motorbikes.  I’ve come full circle.  By this time, I’m exhausted and I really want to get on the path to Ping’An.

A little girl standing with the women says “Hello!”  I think, “Oh boy, someone who can speak English!”  I say to the girl, “Road to Ping’An?” She points up a hill in the direction I already walked, the direction where I got lost.  She’s with her grandmother, who beckons her to lead me.  The girl runs ahead, with her grandmother following behind, and at the next crossroad, she points in one direction.  I still recognize this as the direction I walked before and got lost.  The little girl wants to stop at every crossroad, but I really want her to take me all the way to the road.  I pull out a 10 yuan bill and show it to her.  “For you, road to Ping’An.”  At each crossroad, she wants to take the 10 yuan bill, but I hold it back each time: “Road to Ping’An” I continue to remind her.  Finally, I see the road on which I came into Longji and I hand over the 10 yuan.  “Xiexie,” I tell her. Thank you!

wildflowers

wildflowers

gates

gates

Finally, I’m on the road that will lead me to the footpath back to Ping’An.

grasses and barn

grasses and barn

red flowers of autumn

red flowers of autumn

I keep walking down the road. I pass by my life-saving bathroom, so I know I’m going in the right direction. I’m looking for the trail to Ping’An off the main road but I don’t see it. The road curves sharply to the left, as in a switchback, and though this part doesn’t look familiar, I keep following the road which heads sharply uphill.  There isn’t a soul in sight to ask whether I’m going in the right direction.  Finally, at the top of the very long and steep hill, I see a woman out in her yard.  I say “Ping’An?” as I point up the hill.  She points back downhill in the direction I just came and shakes her head.  No, Ping’An is back down the hill, she gestures.  Though I’ve wasted a lot of effort walking up this hill, at least I’m glad to discover that my instinct was right that nothing looked familiar.

As I get to the switchback point, I ask a farmer: “Ping’An?” He gestures for me to follow him.  We head off on another path that I still don’t recognize but I follow anyway.  I figure he must know what he’s doing as he’s a local.  Finally, we reach a point where I originally took a picture of this sign, so I recognize where I am. The farmer leaves me at this point, taking off on another path.  Sweet relief.  By this time I’m exhausted and my legs are sore, I’m dying to get back to the hostel where I can put my feet up.

a familiar sign!

a familiar sign!

Now I’m back in familiar territory, surrounded by steep banks and rice terraces and ornamental grasses waving in the breeze, as if they’re cheerleaders encouraging me on my long walk back.

pretty grasses

pretty grasses

I’m also very thirsty at this point, as I haven’t had a drink all day.  I see this shack ahead, and thinking it’s a place I can buy a drink, I pick up my pace.  Sadly, I find it’s nothing but an abandoned shack.

on the path back, a promise of a drink, unfulfilled

on the path back, a promise of a drink, unfulfilled

I keep thinking that once I reach the covered bridge, I’ll be almost back. Not quite true as this was 15 minutes into the walk.  But I am happy to see it, and, as I did on the way out, I stop for a rest for a few moments.

back to the covered bridge

back to the covered bridge

grasses on the terraces

grasses on the terraces

Then I’m walking back around the rim of the Ping’An Terraces and I can recognize the contours of Seven Stars with Moon.

Return to Ping'An

Return to Ping’An

swirls

swirls

And I see some farmers doing a controlled burn on the hillside.

controlled burn

controlled burn

Finally, I arrive back at the hostel at 4:30 p.m.  As I started on the path to Longji at 11:30, I’ve been hiking for 5 hours, not including the walk up and down the mountain to Seven Stars with Moon and the posing for the photos in the costume this morning.

I see the Memory Board on the wall of the hostel, but I don’t add anything to the wall. I just want to go into my room and lie down for a while.

a Memory Wall back at the Longji International Youth Hostel

a Memory Wall back at the Longji International Youth Hostel

At dinner, I don’t really want to eat anything because of my stomach.  No Chinese food sounds appealing anyway. However, I figure I’d better put something into it because sometimes an empty stomach doesn’t feel good either.  I order some toast and I drink several cups of hot water, as well as several bottles of cold water.  It’s easy to get hot water at any Chinese establishment as the Chinese believe hot water is good for your health.

I’m planning to leave Ping’An in the morning. I’ll be going to Guilin where I’ve reserved a hotel room at the Guilin Sapphire Hotel.  I figure there are some sights to see in Guilin, so I’ll play tourist for another day before returning to Nanning on Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. Sadly, my unexpected holiday will be over and I have to return to work on Monday.

 

Categories: Asia, China, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Longji Ancient Village, Longji Rice Terraces, Longsheng County, Ping'An Village, Seven Stars with Moon, Travel, Zhuang people | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

making my way out of ping’an for a hike to longji ancient village

Friday, November 21:  This morning I wake up to find my back is miraculously better.  It was either the five Ibuprofen I took last night or the extreme naps I took yesterday afternoon, but waking up with no back pain means I’m game to hike to Longji Ancient Zhuang Village.  Even my stomach is feeling a little better but I’m really not sure how much I trust it to behave.  I do go ahead and eat some scrambled eggs and toast and drink some coffee.

I have studied the map and am told by the receptionist that the hike to Longji is about a half hour beginning from Viewpoint 2: Seven Stars with Moon. I don’t remember seeing a path marked to Longji near Viewpoint 2, but I walk through the village and up the mountain, keeping my eyes peeled for a path heading to the west.  I see some cute businesses and interesting masks along the way.

Coffee house in Ping'An

Coffee house in Ping’An

masks in Ping'an

masks in Ping’an

On my way up the mountain, I find some better views of Seven Stars with Moon.  I like how it looks in the morning fog.  I do see a path about halfway up the mountain, but it doesn’t say anything about Longji, so I continue up the mountain.

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

I am so tempted to buy some of the textiles but I never do.  I will definitely need to pick some up when I return again.

textiles for sale

textiles for sale

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

terraces at Seven Stars with Moon

terraces at Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

While I’m walking up the hill, there are these little viewing platforms where people can rent costumes and pose in front of Seven Stars with Moon.  A Dutch lady is sitting on one of the benches taking a rest and I sit down beside her to catch my breath.  When I do, I can’t help but look at some of the photos spread out on a table taken of tourists in the costumes.  When I find it’s about 20 yuan ($3.25) for the costume rental and the photo, I can’t help but try it out.  It’s kind of funny and the Dutch lady follows suit and gets some photos made herself.  We get a lot of laughs out of this!

Yours truly in traditional costume with Seven Stars with Moon in the background

Yours truly in traditional costume with Seven Stars with Moon in the background

Me in costume

Me in costume

After my little photo-op, I continue up the mountain to where the horseshoe-shaped arrangement of shops are, and I make a restroom stop.  My stomach doesn’t feel great, but nothing untoward is happening, so I figure I’m safe to continue my journey. I heard from some other tourists at the hostel that the path is about a half hour through the woods, so I figure if I can always go in the woods if necessary.

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

I still don’t see any path marked to Longji, so I decide to walk back down the mountain to the unmarked path I saw.

up the hills

up the hills & back down again

At the point where I see the path heading west, I ask some Chinese tourists: “Longji?” They nod and point down the trail.  I’m going off into new territory alone, with no guide and a map about the size of a 1 yuan bill.  I can hardly read the map without a magnifying glass.  But the path seems to be paved with stones, not just some dirt path, so I head off.  I figure I’ll go ahead as long as the trail does.

beginning on the trail to Longji Ancient Village

beginning on the trail to Longji Ancient Village

You can come along on my walk, but you’ll have to wait till the next installment. 🙂

Categories: Asia, China, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Longji Ancient Village, Longji Rice Terraces, Longsheng County, Ping'An Village, Seven Stars with Moon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

a walk to “seven stars with moon” & return to ping’an

Thursday, November 20: My Zhuang guide and I continue along the trail around the rim of the rice terraces, and my back is hurting the whole time.  I periodically stop to stretch in different directions, and she continues to rub the small of my back when I bend over.

You may wonder why I don’t mention my wonderful guide by name.  To be honest, she tells me her name, but I don’t quite understand her, and then of course I forget it as soon as she tells me.  I don’t know why but Chinese is still just as unintelligible to me as it was on the first day I got here.  I have learned a few words, but only to get by.  And even though I’ve been taking Chinese classes for one hour once a week, all we’ve learned so far is Pinyin and the tones and sounds, which I have great difficulty with.  I can’t even differentiate some of the sounds.  My attempts to learn Chinese give me a lot of sympathy for my poor Chinese students who are trying to learn English.  The two languages are about as far from each other as two languages can be!

As she walks ahead of me on the trail, my guide keeps pulling at the ferns growing along the hillside and plucking them off and dropping them on the path.   It’s almost like Hansel and Gretel leaving a trail of breadcrumbs.

terraces on the way to Seven Stars with the Moon

terraces on the way to Seven Stars with the Moon

pretty fall colors

pretty fall colors

wheelbarrow

wheelbarrow

terraces

terraces and the village of Ping’An

Viewpoint 2: Seven Stars with Moon

Viewpoint 2: Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Rices terraces

Rice terraces

view from Seven Stars with Moon to Ping'An Village

view from Seven Stars with Moon to Ping’An Village

ornamental grasses and terraces

ornamental grasses and terraces

path along the terraces

path along the terraces

wildflower

wildflower

my Zhuang guide and her little bouquet

my Zhuang guide and her little bouquet

At one point, we reach a horseshoe-shaped arrangement of shops where there is a public restroom that is surprisingly clean and even has a Western toilet.  You must be able to tell by now that Western toilets are hard to come by in China, as I get excited every time I find one!  At the shops, I buy a bottle of water and a painting of a Zhuang woman carrying baskets through a tropical forest on black fabric.  I also find this cute little baby in a stroller and I wonder how on earth someone has gotten the baby uphill in this stroller, as there are so many steps and no cars can drive in the village or up these trails.

a little baby along the path

a little baby along the path

Somewhere along this path is the Seven Stars with Moon lookout, but I’m not really sure exactly where it is as I don’t see a sign.  I have seen signs TO the viewpoint but I haven’t seen any AT the viewpoint.  According to China Highlights.com, “Seven Stars around the Moon” is formed from eight small piles standing separately in the middle of eight rice paddies. The middle pile, filled with water, looks like a bright moon while the others are compared to seven stars.

Seven Stars with the Moon

Seven Stars with the Moon

Me at Seven Stars with Moon

Me at Seven Stars with Moon

Walking downhill from Seven Stars with Moon

Walking downhill from Seven Stars with Moon

Returning to Ping'An

Returning to Ping’An

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Parking & Seven Stars with Moon

After we leave this lookout, we are heading down steps back into the village, and we pass a lot of shops selling handicrafts along the way.  I’m not in the market to buy anything today as I just want to get back to rest.

My guide stops to talk to this Zhuang lady who is selling some peppers or some kind of food along the walkway.  The lady’s lower gums seem to be detached from her lower jaw; I can see this when she talks.  Although she doesn’t look it in this picture, she seems very happy despite this problem.  She chats quite animatedly with my guide.

another Zhuang lady

another Zhuang lady in Ping’An Village

Then we’re back in the village where I see cute shops and some interesting sights.

back to the village of Ping'An

back to the village of Ping’An

Clothing, corn and characters

Clothing, corn and characters

Village door

Village door

cafes in the village

cafes in the village

We stop for a chat with this lady who also asks for some money for me and the guide if I want to take a picture of her.

my Zhuang guide's friend

my Zhuang guide’s friend

my guide and her friend

my guide and her friend

We have a seat at a lookout where we can see the pretty village below us.

the Zhuang village of Ping'An

the Zhuang village of Ping’An

my guide and me :-)

my guide and me 🙂

interesting wooden buildings in Ping'An

interesting wooden buildings in Ping’An

Finally, it’s about 12:15, and we return toward the hotel.  I see some cooking going on in the streets, and people washing vegetables in a stream.  I also see this foot massage place which I note, but when I try to find it later, I’m unable to do so.

the winding walkways in Ping'An

the winding walkways in Ping’An

sedan chairs - used for tourists who don't want to walk up the hills

sedan chairs – used for tourists who don’t want to walk up the hills

Meiyou Cafe

Meiyou Cafe

It’s lunchtime but my stomach and back are still hurting and all I want to do is lie down.  I go to my room, where I take a long nap.  It feels good to burrow under the covers and sleep for a couple of hours.

When I wake up around 3:30, I’m still hurting but I’m feeling hungry, so I go back out to explore a bit of the town and search for a restaurant that had looked appealing along the way.

Pretty pavilion in the town

Pretty pavilion in the town

sticks & stones

sticks & stones

drying corn

drying corn

the village of Ping'An from below

the village of Ping’An from below

9 dragons & 5 tigers OR 7 stars with moon

9 dragons & 5 tigers OR 7 stars with moon

Things that used to be things??

Things that used to be things??

Ping'An Zhuang Village

Ping’An Zhuang Village

Beer bottles as art

Beer bottles as art

When I find the restaurant, I order some “stir-fried vegetables,” which turn out to be cabbage and onions, and some rice.

the restaurant where I ate a late lunch of "stir-fried vegetables" and had to rush back to the hotel....

the restaurant where I ate a late lunch of “stir-fried vegetables” and had to rush back to the hotel….

As soon as I finish my meal, I suddenly feel my stomach about to give way, so I pay my bill and head downhill quickly to my hotel. I barely make it back to my room!  Oh my gosh, what a pain to feel so sick while traveling!  I lie down again and nap for the rest of the afternoon and early evening.

Later in the evening, I think I might be able to handle just some toast and some hot water.  While sitting in the dining room of the hostel, I meet a retired doctor named Ron Perrier who is traveling around the world and is in China for stint.  He is also a fellow blogger and here’s his blog: only where you have walked have you been.  He asks me about my health problems and makes a few guesses about what it might mean that I have both stomach problems and a back ache.  We have quite a long chat and he gives me some Ibuprofen to help me with my pain.  Even though I feel horrible, I enjoy meeting this fellow traveler and sharing some cultural observations.  We talk about spitting in Chinese society.  He says he has found that spitting to the Chinese is just like the vomiting impulse to us as Westerners.  The Chinese feel if they get the urge to spit, they must get rid of the phlegm as soon as possible, just as we do if we feel the urge to vomit.  We Westerners have learned to swallow our spit and we don’t feel it’s acceptable to go around spitting on the street, but that’s not the case with the Chinese.  We talk about many other interesting topics and observations, but if you’d like to see more on his take on life and travel, I suggest you visit his blog. 🙂

I go back to my room where I take the Ibuprofen and read the current book on my Kindle: Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford.  I sleep and sleep and sleep, hoping to feel better in the morning so I can hike to Longji Ancient Village and the rice terraces there.

 

 

Categories: Asia, China, Expat life, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Longji Rice Terraces, Longsheng County, Ping'An Village, Seven Stars with Moon, Travel, Zhuang people | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

a walk along the longji rice terraces from ping’an to nine dragons & five tigers

Thursday, November 20:  This morning, I wake up with a terrible lower back ache in addition to the stomach cramps I’ve been having for two days.  I don’t know if I slept in a contorted position or if it’s a result of sitting all day yesterday on trains and buses and then walking up the steep path, and then back down and up again, to Ping’An village.  I’m not usually one to get terrible back aches, but this one is bad.  I can hardly move! I’ve scheduled a 10:00 hike through the rice terraces with the spry little lady guide, and I wonder if I’ll be able to do it at all.

I walk out onto my balcony and check out the village below.  I’m on the fourth floor, so I have quite a nice view of the busy Zhuang villagers leading their horses up and down the path laden with logs and bricks and all manner of construction materials.

view of the village of Ping'An from the balcony off my room at Longji International Youth Hostel

view of the village of Ping’An from the balcony off my room at Longji International Youth Hostel

The Ping’an Terraced Fields are located in the Longji Terraced Fields Scenic Area in Longsheng County, which is 100 kilometers north-west of Guilin City. Longji Terraced Fields consist of three main villages – Jinkeng Red Yao Village, Ping’an Zhuang Village and Longji Ancient Zhuang Village. When talking about Longji Terraced Fields, it is generally considered to be Ping’an Terraced Fields, the core tourist area of Longji Terraced Fields.

The altitude of the Ping’an Terraced Fields is from 300 – 1,100 meters above sea level. This area was first cultivated in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) and finished in the early Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) with a history of more than 650 years (China Highlights: Longji Ping’an Terraced Fields).

view of Ping'An from my balcony

view of Ping’An from my balcony

Ping’an Zhuang Village accommodates more than 50 families with over 200 people. Most of them are Zhuang people and some are Yao people. The Zhuang minority nationality is the main nationality in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. One third of the population in Guangxi is comprised of the Zhuang people (China Highlights: Longji Ping’an Terraced Fields).

the industrious Zhuang villagers of Ping'An

the industrious Zhuang villagers of Ping’An

I consider canceling my hike because with an iffy stomach and the pain I’m in, I figure it will be a miserable hike.   I don’t know if there will be bathrooms along the way for my stomach issues, and I could make my back worse and be laid out the rest of my holiday.  However, I don’t have limitless time off, and I’ve come all this way!!  I can’t possibly just lie around in bed nursing myself back to health.  I figure the fresh air will do me good and that I’ll just walk out the pain.

I go down to the lobby to eat a Western breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon and toast and I tell the receptionist about the leak in my bathroom ceiling.  She picks up the phone and makes a call and says they will have to buy a new faucet.  I tell her it’s not the faucet that’s leaking but it must be some pipe in the ceiling because the whole ceiling is leaking all over the bathroom and onto the carpet in the room.  She sends someone up to inspect while I’m eating my breakfast and then she tells me they will need to replace a whole pipe.  She asks if I’d mind switching to a standard double room, with a Western toilet (!), for half the price of what I’m paying. This will be my third room switch since I arrived, but I’m happy to switch to the cheaper room.  I tell her I tried to book the standard double on C-trip but it showed only the family room or the dorm rooms were available; I preferred the standard double from the beginning.  She’s perplexed as to why C-trip showed the rooms as being booked as it’s obvious there is hardly anyone in the hotel at this time of year.  No matter, I move all my stuff back to the second floor and settle in, taking a nice hot shower to soothe my back before heading on the hike.

At 10:00, my guide appears at the hostel and off we go.  She’s as happy as she was yesterday when she hauled my bags up that steep mountain.  I’m inspired by her happy nature and figure if I’m going to be in pain on a hike, she’s a good one to be with for her caring and kindness.

My Zhuang porter from last night and my guide for today.   She's the nicest and most cheerful woman imaginable!

My Zhuang porter from last night and my guide for today. She’s the nicest and most cheerful woman imaginable!

We begin our uphill walk through the village and when we come to a crossroads she asks if I’d like to see Viewpoint 1 or Viewpoint 2 first.  I point in the direction of Viewpoint 1: Nine Dragons & Five Tigers, thinking we may as well start at the beginning.

Ping'An

Ping’An

My guide is strong and healthy, and with the way I’m feeling today I feel older than she is!  It’s kind of depressing, but I figure I will do my best to keep up with her.

keeping up with my Zhuang guide

keeping up with my Zhuang guide

She stops to speak to a friend of hers along the way, and to admire the little grandchild.  I like the corn drying along the front porch of the house.

one of my guide's Zhuang friends in the village

one of my guide’s Zhuang friends in the village

and the friend's grandchild

and the friend’s grandchild

When I was in Yangshuo, Audrey told me that people often keep the good luck symbols  from Spring Festival on their front doors all year round, even though they start to look tattered after a while.  They’re afraid to take them down because they supposedly bring good luck.

Zhuang door

Zhuang door

I love the rooftops of the Zhuang wooden buildings.  And I see a touch of fall colors in the yellow trees.