May 04, 2010

The Dragon's Backbone

Several rain filled days in Guilin and Yangshou gave way to sunshine as I stood at the top of a hill in Longsheng. The view in front of me had remained largely the same for the past 800 years, when the first rice terraces were constructed in the area. It was apparent why the region was known as the Dragon's Backbone. Rays of light shimmered against the terraced fields, twisting from atop the hill and down over 500 meters to the river below.

The climb up through several villages had been grueling under the afternoon heat. I drank some plum juice to quench my thirst. After having bamboo chicken for lunch in a minority village, I had followed a well marked path to the top of the rice terraces. The prettiest of the village belles were dressed up in traditional livery and dotted the path with great frequency, selling refreshments and charging visitors for taking photos with them. I became disoriented on the way down and took a roundabout route to the bottom where a bus awaited to take me back to Yangshuo.


"Better to strive and climb, And never reach your goal, Than to drift along with time - An aimless, worthless soul, Aye better to climb and fall Or sow, though the yield be small, Than to throw away day after day And never strive at all."
- Grace B. Hinkey -