After a lovely stay in Chengdu, I flew south to Guilin, declared an autonomous region in China for its high concentration of ethnic minority groups.
While in Guilin, I stayed at Ming Palace International Hostel, which offered budget dorms at 5 USD, and tours to visit the region’s minority groups.
I decided to book a tour of the Huangluo Village, to see the Long-Hair People and the Longji Terraced Fields.
My tour guide Suzy picked me up at 8:30 AM, and we began the 2.5 hour journey to the Longji Scenic Spot.
There were two Swedish students on tour with me, taking a gap year before medical school, traveling around Southeast Asia, China and South Africa. As we drove toward the terraced fields, our surroundings became more remote – dense pine forests, endless hills, and the nothing to be heard but the soothing sound of a flowing river. Absolute bliss! 😀When we finally arrived, we purchased our tickets, and entered the Longji Old Village. Total Cost: 45 USD, which included entrance to this village, plus transportation from Guilin, entrance to the rice terraces, lunch, and English guide.
The Huangluo Yao Village- Long Hair Community
From our guide we learned this long hair ethnic community consists of over 80 families, living in the Longji Terraced Fields.As a symbol of luck, these women cut their hair only once in life, at 16 years of age, when they start looking for a husband. Women here display one of three hair styles, depending on their status.
- Single women cover their hair in black cloth (removed only after their wedding).
- Married women without children have a normal twist, called a “snail hairstyle.”
- Married women with children have a “dragon hairstyle,” where a ball of hair hangs on their forehead, symbolic of a child.
In recent years, these long-flowing locks have gained them international fame, and as such, the long hair women have put together an entertaining show, to educate people on their culture using song and dance. They began the show by demonstrating the process of courting in their village.
- Big butt (better chance of fertility)
- Big feet (better for hiking in the mountains)
- Big voice (better for communication in the mountains)
The search for a ’round rump’ reminded me of Sir Mix Alot’s, “Baby Got Back.” 😛Anyway, the only thing they look for that’s small is a woman’s hands, since they make a living here selling woven fabrics and textiles. Later, we watched as they washed and styled their long hair into a perfectly wrapped bun.Throughout the entire show, I felt the pride in their voices, and found the songs intoxicating, with each beating of the drum.Their woven fabrics were visually stunning, and reminiscent of the colorful patterns I’d seen in Mexico.
Overall, I found the show to be very educational, and a nice way for their community to preserve tradition and generate income for their families.
Here’s a short video I made from their performance. 🙂
Afterwards, we ate a local lunch of yams, snap peas with bacon, eggplant with hoisin sauce, and, of course, lots of rice.They even served longji tea, which is cultivated in this region.After lunch, we drove from the Huangluo Yao Village to the Jinkeng Red Yao Terraced Fields.
Jinkeng Red Yao Fields – Longji Rice Terraces
These immense rice terraces span 16,000 acres, cascading over 2,500 feet, down to the foothills of each mountain.To get to the top, we rode a cable car, which offered a pleasant panorama of the terraced fields.
When surveying the land below, one can see the vibrant green of the terraces colliding with the deep brown of the earth, creating a scaffold of colors. Absolutely stunning! 😀
To appreciate the full beauty of the terraces, we walked a stone path to the bottom, which took roughly one hour.
I noticed that, although it’s the dry season, the rice paddies still held a decent amount of water, a crucial part of rice cultivation. This also meant the stone path was quite muddy and slippery, but phenomenal views made the walk well worth it! 😀At the base of the mountain, we entered the local village of Dazhai, known across the nation for their agricultural ingenuity and bountiful harvest.
We ended the tour by making our way back to Guilin, sleeping like babies after all that fresh air. 😀
When I returned to Guilin, well-rested, I took a stroll along the gorgeous promenade, one of the highlights of the city. 😀
It was short, but sweet, and next up I floated on a bamboo raft down the Li River, landing in the backpacker haven of Yangshuo. Stay tuned to hear all about it. Until then. 🙂