Longsheng is amongst Chinas top scenic spots. Even in drizzly weather, the green watery paddy fields are beautiful. Friends have visited at less optimal times of the year, when the hillsides were a disappointing brown, but they still came away saying how impressed they were by a landscape that has been sculpted by consecutive generations.
Having been planning on visiting Longsheng, whilst in Guilin, I was pleased to learn that my language course had organised a weekend trip there. As views of the rice terraces are pretty much the sole reason anyone makes the trip, it is only necessary to stay one night (unless of course you are looking to get back to nature and away from it all).
The trips planned itinerary inspired in us all a sense of bewilderment and anticipation. Our visit coincided with the timing of a local annual festival and activities such as chicken chasing and mud fights were listed on the agenda. Would be watching, or participating, was the particular question on all our minds.
Probably for the better, we were just watching… and what a sight it was to behold: a mad rush of people excitedly racing through muddy rice paddies in order to be the first to catch the poor chickens that were launched through the air. Supposedly if you caught it, you got to keep it. Same with the fish that were grappled with.
Firecrackers were set off (making me jump at times), drums were beaten, songs wailed and the evening was rounded off with a fireworks display. The display certainly raised our spirits after our failed attempt to acquire burgers. We were lulled into a restaurant with the promise of burgers, hopes were raised, only to be told mei you 没有 (don’t have – ironically the name of the restaurant). The plus side is that apparently you can negotiate the price of the bill at a restaurant in China after you have ordered and paid! This is something that I doubt any of the non-Chinese in our group would ever try ourselves.
I absolutely loved that the fireworks took place over the rice terraces, as they were reflected in the countless pools of water. Hundreds and hundreds of lights were also beautifully, and painstakingly, laid out along the edges of every single rice paddy (unfortunately there are no pictures as none of my photos came out well). After the fireworks, Longsheng redeemed itself in the food department, in the form of apple pie (cue happy Yanks)
The following morning we were woken early, at the crack of bloody dawn, by roosters and tourists yelling unnecessarily loudly. I shared a room with the lovely, yet hyperactive and mad, sixteen year old Devon (is that even the name of a person? Apparently it is state side. Personally I just start thinking of clotted cream). As a group we headed on a long and winding coach journey to another scenic area. I would have enjoyed the views more, was I not considerably concerned that Jackson, sitting next to me, might throw up (concerned for my sake, sorry) That day we took a cable car up to see some more rice terraces, which was nice but it was drizzling with rain. Lunch was another one of those surreal ‘is this happening in China’ moments (like the time we found a TARDIS!) when Devon sat down to watch sponge bob square pants with the owners little kid.
It was a great weekend with some good company; and my American friends will be please to know that I still can’t help using Americanisms such as ‘mall’… and am getting plenty of stick for it (eeuurrgh)