So after the minor disappointment of Guilin, we really hoped that Long Sheng rice field would be as good as people said. We did some research prior to our China travel and saw countless beautiful photos of this place. Again, we hired a van to take us there. The journey was still about a couple of hours away so we set off pretty early again. Rice fields mainly dominated the southern regions of China as the weather was more suitable for rice crops. However, as we were traveling in March, there isn’t much going on. Though we’ve been told that this place just looked good with different time of the year, just had to watch what we photographed.
There we came. When we got to the main entrance of the rice field, we were a little surprised just how tourist-friendly it became. There’s a main ‘welcome’ building with ticket hall and dedicated mini-bus to drive us up to the field, just like a major theme park! I wasn’t joking. It did seem to me that most famous places in China had become some kind of tourist attractions. In some ways, it was good that they were all more accessible with facilities to accommodate tourists. But my main concern would be the lost of originality and characters. I much preferred a muddy path with dogs and chickens following me rather than local tour guides fighting to speak to me for some dosh.
Ok, the mini-bus journey didn’t take long and we arrived at the ‘proper’ rice field entrance on top of the mountain. Once through the entrance, we were greeted by a group of local tour guides and a bunch of local traders. Just like everywhere we went, ignoring local tour guides was the best way to ‘move’ forward. They would normally follow you for a bit then after about a hundred yards, they would back off because they got other tourists to convince.
We did stop at a trader’s stall. There were two women dressed in traditional Miao costumes and their smiles really captured us. My wife and our friends all bought something and I took a picture of them!
The hike was not as difficult as Mount Hua but definitely more demanding than Zhang Jia Jie! There was still some climb before we reached the top of the mountain. We needed to go to the top so we could enjoy the view of the rice field. Most Chinese tourists would stop after the first 50 meters climb but we were there to do the whole lot of course. We had to go through a village before we could see the field. These wooden buildings were all similarly designed so one could get confused very easily, frankly, we did get lost at the end which I will come to that later.
Despite its tourist-status, this was still a working rice field where local still worked and lived there. Apart from traders and local tourist businessmen, we also saw a few farmers.
I liked that and my initial worry was simply behind me and now I looked forward to some exciting photographic opportunities. We stopped and rested a little where most Chinese would call it their destination of the day. At that point, we could easily see the rice field formation. The weather wasn’t the best but the fog did give the entire scene a little mystery.
Our entire trek only took about four hours to complete so it wasn’t a long walk after all. The rice field could be quite repetitive so I used my tele lens to get some close ups and details. Indeed, there were lots of nice details around!
There was a funny story during our trek though. After reaching the top of the field, we were followed by two mysterious locals. We believed they were tour guides and they just kept following us for about an hour! We told them to go away but they continued. They even posed and got into our photos! Well, they were only two women but we were a little worried as they could have ‘friends’ waiting for us around the corner. So we made a stop for some rest and drinks, then they walked pass us. This was the most frustrating experience for the day but then they were forgotten soon after.
As we decent, we took a different path. We had no map and we had was my GPS so all we knew was that we were heading the right direction. GPS!!! I loved my GPS. We got lost when we got back to the village. We were cold and hungry so we looked for a place to eat. There we found a locally run restaurant for some bites before heading back. This little restaurant was quite cool. It was built in one of those wooden buildings and the inside was decorated with some American influence, pool table and some foreign signs. We said down and ordered some local food. To our surprise, the food was very good indeed. I particularly liked the bamboo rice! They were lovely!
After our meal, we realised that we had limited time and the sky was getting dark. Once again, we had to race back to the entrance. As we were lost, we just tried our luck and kept going the direction of the entrance. Our GPS was just superb! We were lucky that I was logging our path so I knew exactly where everything was. We walked through some back alleys and saw countless of chickens but no people. So after about 45 mins, we were back to the entrance. By then, all the shops were closed.
Then and only then we were relief. We didn’t want to experience the same as when we were in Zhang Jia Jie. The mini-bus took us down and then collected by our hired van. As usual, we were all knackered and slept in the van. It was a fun day with some ‘excitement’ from the two mysterious women. It might not be the best season to see the rice field but we were there and saw it. Having lovely friends with me completed the day beautifully.
Now we were heading back to Guilin for our last night before we set off to our last destination in China – Yangshuo. Stay tuned!
If you have missed my previous blogs of China travel, here’re the links:
Have a good day!