Roam China 2008 travel blog


Dar Zhai is about 27 kilometers southeast of Longsheng County, it's a vast area of rice terraces that stretches layer upon layer, coiling around from the base of Longji (the dragon's backbone) Mountain to its summit. This is the most amazing terrace in China. The minority people started building the terraces in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), and continued until the early Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) when completed. The Dragon's Backbone Rice Terraces are the culmination of strenuous labor of the Zhuang people. It is also famous for its highest and hardest to reach terraces. Dazhai Village is inhabited by Yao minority people, who maintain a custom where adult women to keep long hair bundled in high upon their heads.

Now, the Dragon's Backbone Rice Terraces covers an area of 66 square kilometers (about 16308 acres!) and spans an altitude between 300 meters (about 984 feet where we are now) and 1100 meters (about 3608 feet where we will be after our 6 hour hike today). It is said, 'Where there is soil, there is a terrace', be it in the valley, with fast flowing rivers to the mountains summit with its swirling and haunting cloud cover, or from the bordering forest to the cliff walls. Even though the Dragon's Backbone Rice Terraces are large, they are made up of many patches no more than 1 mu (the Chinese measurement, about 0.16 acres). The smaller ones are like snails and the bigger ones like towers. ..

The Dragon's Backbone Rice Terraces are a beautiful painting. In spring, the water is irrigated into the fields and the terraces look like great chains or ribbons hung on the hillsides (this is the current season moving into summer). When summer comes, green waves rush continuously down the mountainside from what seems to be heaven. In autumn is the harvest, with the mountainside decorated with gold. Coming into winter, the whole mountain will be covered with white snow, just like dragons playing with water.

As well as its amazing scenery, Longji is also the area to visit to experience China's ethnic minorities' culture. The Zhuang and the Yao nationalities live here, though mainly it is the Zhuang people. The women dress in unique and colorful costumes, their hair reaches the ground and there is plenty of singing and dancing. We will be lucky enough to be able to attend one tonight.

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