Guangxi: Trekking across the Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces

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In November 2012, I’m visiting the Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces in Guangxi province. After a night spent in a guesthouse on one of the hills, I start a 5-hour long trek across the rice terraces to another village. I’m trekking with 3 Chinese guys who have also stayed in guesthouses on the hill. November is low season for visiting the rice terraces and we only come across a few locals on our trek and no other tourists. The rice terraces are still stunning at this time of the year and I’m glad I didn’t skip them for other places.

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After trekking for a while, we reach one rice paddy on top of a mountain and enjoy the view. A family is working in the fields. It’s not the season for growing or harvesting rice, so we’re curious and ask an older woman:

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“What are you harvesting?”
She: “Herbs that are used to make Chinese medicine.”
We: “What kind of herbs?”
She: “I’m not sure what they are called and what they are used for. A pharmacy has asked us to harvest these kinds of herbs and they give us money for it, so that’s what we do. The herbs can be harvested at this time of the year, there wouldn’t be much else to do right now.”

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Did you ever visit rice terraces in China? I’d love to hear your stories.

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About

Hi, I'm Ruth, welcome to China Elevator Stories! I have been living in Kunming and Shenzhen in the past and am now staying in Northeast China with my Chinese husband and our baby and toddler son. Join us on our journey bridging worlds!

16 comments

  1. I’ve never visited rice terraces before, or a paddy field. Did you give it a go at harvesting crops there? I’m not too sure if I’d produce some herbs for someone if I didn’t know what they were going to be used for. But I guess sometimes this is the only way some in China can make a living.

    • I didn’t, but one of the guys did for a minute or so. The herbs weren’t planted by the locals, they just grow there wild which is probably why they don’t know more about them. I’m not sure how much money one can make by growing rice, but I assume it’s not a lot, so a little extra money won’t hurt.

      • That’s interesting. It must be hard for the guys to grow rice like that all year round, what with four changing seasons over there. I do hope they make enough to get by. Am inclined to think so and they live modestly from the sounds of it.

        • I’ve heard that growing rice is really hard work. Many people there make an extra income from tourism and I think they are doing okay, but I’m not sure how much of the entry fee of 80 CNY that you pay for the rice terraces goes to the locals.

  2. I have sadly never visited any rice terraces or trecked in China. Sure enough I would love to however my wife and her family are more pleased with city life which includes never to walk much =/

  3. Behind the Story

    Your photos are excellent. I especially like the last one with the wind-blown tassels in the foreground.

    When I was doing Chinese brush painting, I painted a picture of rice terraces that I saw in Bali. They’re such a fantastic subject!

    • Thanks! The tassels were growing all over the rice terraces, it looked quite beautiful. I took these pictures with my old analogue camera, the lens is a little broken, but I think it makes for an interesting effect.

      Your brush painting sounds beautiful.

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