A little over 100km north of the city of Guilin sits gorgeous rice terraces called Dragon Back (“Longji”). To feed themselves, the local Red Yao people converted hilly landscape into rice fields through generations of work since Yuan Dynasty (13th to 14th century). Now about a thousand families live in the village “Dazhai” and early June, the season abundant in water, is the time to plant seedlings.
Train T38 leaves Shenzhen at 5:50pm and arrives in Guilin around 6am the next day. A guest house in Dazhai Village, “Panoramic View Inn” (Quan Jing Lou), picks up guests from the train station with a small van. After roughly two and half hours’ ride, we were at the parking lot outside the village and immediately surrounded by Yao women who offered porter service. These were very strong women, mostly middle-aged, long hair coiled up, and mandarin speaking. They would charge RMB25 for anything that could fit into a big bamboo basket. According to them, the village committee would make a rotation schedule in the way that each family has a chance in every 25 days to offer help to tourists for some extra income.
Panoramic View is located on the very top of the hill that provides grand overview of the terraces that truly matches the inn’s name. Hiking up is not strenuous along the trail with stone steps, especially when one stops often to appreciate the landscape and take pictures. With the increase in elevation, the view becomes more and more spectacular. After two hours, we reached our inn. Nearby is another Yao-style wooden structure called Photographers’ Home. The hotel staff was not especially eager to help but did call in a guide to take us to “Gold Buddha Crown” (Jin Fo Ding) to see sunset. Gold Buddha Crown was crowded with people that looked seriously into photography, carrying my dream cameras or ones I even dare not to dream of. It was very easy to start a conversation with stranger who shared the same interest. A few farmers were working in the fields with cows and horses and the sunlight got warmer and warmer. We stayed until the sun was completely down and the moon up in the sky, almost full and very bright. The day ended with a delicious meal – pan fried Tuji (home chicken), rice steamed in bamboo tubes, and a glass of plum wine.
We set the alarm clock at 5 for the next morning in order not to miss the sunrise. When I woke up long before that and looked out of the window, I realized that the weather forecast might have unfortunately got it right. It was going to be a rainy day. Nevertheless, enthusiastic and always hopeful photographers already occupied spots to set up their tripods. We went to Photographers’ Home and squeezed into the line up of people and tripods. The sky was dark and grey, and then brighter but still grey. No sign of the potential view of sun shining on the mirror-like water at a small angle, which was what most people came here for during these several days of the year. Finally persistence got its reward. The clouds opened a small crack for a short while to let out some early morning sun light, which then quickly went to hide again behind the thick and large patches of clouds.
As the rain showered down, we decided to head for Yangshuo to spend a day before catching T37 that leaves for Shenzhen at around 9:30pm.
I will go back to Dragon Back to see the golden harvest in mid autumn.
(Some photos can be seen on my photo website in the album Guangxi Province.
桂林市向北100多公里有一片非常壮观的梯田, 称为“龙脊”。 据说当地的红瑶自元代起已在这片山地开垦耕作了几百年,稻田倚山而建。村子叫“大寨”,有一千户左右的人家。 6月初雨水充足,正是插秧的时候。
全景楼位于山坡的至高处,确实将梯田全貌尽收眼底。 上山的路以石块铺成,并不艰难。随着高度的上升,景观也愈加不可思议。两个小时后我们到达旅店, 附近也有另一间瑶族木楼叫“影友之家”。全景楼的人并不给人热情倍至的感觉,但还是很快帮我们找了一个村民带我们去“金佛顶”观日落。金佛顶满是看上去十分热衷于摄影的人,背着我所梦想的或是连梦都没敢梦的摄影器材。共同的兴趣能让陌生人间产生自然的亲切感,很快熟落起来。田间有农民牵牛劳作,阳光越来越温暖。我们等太阳完全隐没,仍不愿离开。这时月亮升起来,近乎满月,明亮而安静。