Dragon Spine Terraces
Today was our first morning in Guilin. Just driving through the city of Guilin you are greeted with spectacular views of beautiful mountains. Running through the city is the Li River, which we would get the chance to cruise along later. Today we were venturing out 2 hours to see the Dragon Spine Terraces. I was very nervous because this drive included mountain driving, and a bus change for 30 minutes of WINDY insane think you’re going to die mountain driving. (Confession: I get major motion sickness, and the only dramamine I had was drowsy). I decided to brave the mountain without dramamine and thank the Lord I did not get sick. The view getting off the bus was incredible, but our local guide Ginger promised an even better view once we hiked up the mountain. Anise (one of our group members) and I each bought these super cool Chinese rice hats to keep the sun off.
BEST. PURCHASE. EVER.
Now, Guilin is a VERY humid place but being from Florida I did not expect much because we have humidity year round…but Guilin took heat and humidity to a level that not even a Floridian could withstand. I think our entire group was DRENCHED in sweat moments after stepping off the bus. The hike was another highlight of this entire trip. It took us up through these small mountain villages which was home to traditional Chinese people. One of the groups only cut their hair ONCE in their entire lives. The woman have three buns on top of their heads, one from their current hair, one from the piece they cut at age 18, and the third is all the hair they gather from their brush! It was quite the cultural learning experience.
a glimpse at the mountain village
Once we made it to our lunch stop we had the choice to stop and enjoy the A/C or to venture on to the top for the REAL view…needless to say I continued on despite being drenched in sweat and miserable from the heat. As we climbed we passed many more small communities and people selling things. One woman was selling honeycomb which I had never tasted before. Jack (one of our group members) bought some and it was delicious! Perfect energy boost up the hill. Right before we made it to the last set of stairs (Ginger our guide promised it was only 30 more steps) we had to stop and buy some popsicles. I think our group single handily ate all the popsicles in China during our 14 day adventure…but thank goodness for popsicles being everywhere (even a top a mountain) because it was the best thing ever.
at the top
So, I realized I never explained what the Dragon Spine Terraces are…well they are staggered rice fields up the mountain. It makes for a spectacular view, which we were greeted to after our last 30 steps (Ginger was right!) We took the many obligatory pictures to prove to the rest of the group that we did make it to the top, and of the incredible view they missed out on!
Lunch was DELICIOUS and much needed after all that work! We ate in a restaurant in a small hotel. There are many Bed and Breakfasts in these villages. We got to taste the local specialty bamboo fired rice…so good. It was rice and fruit and taro in a bamboo shoot which is then fired. It resulted in a sweet delicious rice. It was one of my favorite things I tasted all trip.
After lunch we were all very hot, and tired, and not looking forward to a 2 hour bus ride home. All we wanted to do was JUMP directly into our hotel’s awesome pool. As we climbed down the mountain we were treated to a look inside one of the homes. It always blows my mind how different people live. There are so many things I take for granted on a daily basis. The people here did not want our “pity” to them this life is all they want, it is all they know. Anise and I were one of the last few people in the house and her mom speaks Chinese and we were able to get a picture with the homeowner.
Thankfully, we made it to the hotel before we had to go to dinner so we got to SWIM. This pool was magical. It was deep and you could DIVE (well you weren’t technically supposed to, but I did). It felt so nice to swim.
Today was a great day and I was very excited for our Li River adventure the next day!