Alright, so Emily and I are safely back to Beijing, so I might as well catch up on blog entries from travelling. I wrote this one on the train, so I’ll just pop it on here.
First things first, the rice terraces out in Guangxi are stunning. Absolutely stunning, and well worth a visit. So, naturally, Emily and I wanted to see them. There’s a few ways to get out there, the first is to book a tour through your hostel. They’ll probably put you on a bus, tell you when to get off, give you some information about the place in English (maybe), and then tell you when you have to get back on the bus again. It also might be a little expensive to go this route, but it’s probably not too bad.
Emily and I are not into that kind of a thing. We wanted to go out to a village, and then hike the rice terraces to another village, and then go home, all in one day. So we were going to have to go with the second option, which is arranging your own transportation. Easier said than done sometimes, especially when you don’t speak Chinese all that well.
According to the Lonely Planet guide, all we needed to do was march ourselves down to the long distance bus station, and buy a ticket to a city called Longsheng, from where we could transfer to another bus to take us to our intended destination of Ping’an. We went to the bus station, we inquired about tickets for Longsheng, and we were told something along the lines of: “No, we don’t do that here.” Then some other things I couldn’t understand, and then the lady slipped me a small piece of paper with the numbers “88, 91” written on it. Throughly perplexed, Emily and I headed back to the hostel to regroup. After some perusal of the internet, we found out that there was, apparently, another bus station in Guilin now, and that we needed to take bus 88 or 91 from the old bus station to the new bus station. Aha! That make sense right? Following these instructions, we ended up in a rather sketchy part of Guilin where, apparently, no one has ever seen a foreigner. Also, there was no bus station there. Discouraged, we tried the last trick in our bag, going to the train station and buying a “bus” ticket from one of the people selling them outside the train station. For 50 yuan each, we obtained tickets directly to Ping’an that were only slightly sketchy.
The next day, we showed up at the appointed time, and sure enough, there was a little mini-bus waiting to take us to Ping’an. The trip went off without a hitch! Hurrah! Buoyed by our good luck, we decided to take lunch in Ping’an at one of the little guesthouses. Another success, lunch was quite tasty! The guidebook said that it would take about four to five hours to hike from Ping’an to the next village with bus service (Dazhai), and that the route was clearly signposted. Our contact at the hostel had also said that the last bus from Dazhai left at 5 pm. So, we set off around 12:30.
The hike was really quite splendid. We saw the rice terraces from above, below, and in the middle of. We saw farmers doing their thing, and plenty of wildlife. We saw some workers constructing a new dam. We met an old village lady who, bless her heart, only knew about ten words in English. She was trying so hard to help us out, but really just made things more difficult. Then it started lightly raining for a bit, which was actually quite pleasant. We arrived in Dazhai around 4:30, and people looked rather skeptical that a bus would come at five. But, persevering onward, we hired a minibus to take us to Longsheng, and then caught a bus back to Guilin. All in all, a successful day.
Also, the photos are in reverse chronological order… sorry. I could change it but I’m way too lazy.