|After way too short a sleep we got up and had a hasty breakfast – after getting our dirty clothes together for the laundry – then headed for the bus to Long Sheng.
We traveled through the town of Guilin and saw the incredible krast formations – limestone “buttes” with points all along the edge of the town. Then through farm country with duck and chicken farms – not the industrial stuff of the US – but herds of ducks – hundreds – all scrabbling around in a big pond area. The ducks here ave been bred so they can't fly, so no issues with escapees.
It is also the lowland rice harvest period, so we saw many light brown patches on anything concrete – like driveways and basketball courts. They're sun drying the rice prior to storage. Many local fruits are in season and we stopped and got a large variety. Lichee fruits were quite good, as were the bananas, plums, and pears. As we went up into the mountains it looked much line the Blue Ridge Mountains, but with bamboo and terraces.
We finally arrived at the transfer point. The bus driver refuses to drive up into the mountains where the Zhuang people have lived for 1,000+ years. They're most noted for the women never, ever cutting their hair, but wearing it in a bun on their heads. The road to their village was a severe switchback and a narrow road to boot. Two buses passing almost scraped each other. We did pass one bad accident where a car had run into a brick truck. Car lost. Nobody seriously hurt though.
We finally got to the village and were met with step after step of terrace – some with rice, some with corn, some with squash or melons, some with eggplant... many steps on the severe slops of the area. The village itself was reached by traveling hundreds of steps, all uneven and many broken. Almost the entire path was also bordered by... shops. Most selling tourist stuff, but many herbalist shops, some working water buffalo horn, and many other things. Many of the older women were weaving sandals – and selling them at 10 Yuan a pair – about $1.50.
At the village itself it reminded me of something out of the movies. Cedar houses clustered together with gray tile roofs nestled into the side of the mountain surrounded by terraced farmland. We stopped in a small restaurant for lunch and had the normal fare. It was good – especially after the long climb.
We then headed to the summit to get the panoramic view of the “Dragon Spine” terraces – quite spectacular – and sad. The local people were hawking pretty much everything. The path through the village was crowded by recently built shops and “photo opportunity stations” with young women dressed in traditional costumes with lots of silver jewelry. Evidence of more shops and stalls to come. There were a number of hotels – and more under construction. It's pretty clear that this place will be very different in a couple years. Still – just wonderful to see.
Back in Guilin we went to dinner at a place noted for its presentation. We had egg drop soup that came in the ying-yang symbol – complete with eyes. The food was quite good as well. We tries some local wine that was very sweet and thick, and probably a little stronger than most wines.
The day ended with a walk to the local park with the pagodas of the sun and the moon next to the city lake. We then went through the kilometer long pedestrian street before heading back to the hotel for the night I worked a bit in the lobby but was attacked by mosquitoes, so fled to the bar.
Now to bed. Tomorrow a cruise on the Li River.