Monday 9th November - THE MOST UPSETTING WALK OF MY LIFE
Had yet another delicious breakfast, we discussed what to do for the day. As we didn't fancy doing any of the touristy bits and had seen most of the surrounding areas, we decided to move on. Said our goodbyes and thanked them for such a great stay, really loved it here. The bus was leaving just along the road and we were soon on our way to Guilin. It wasn't long when we arrived, then walked to another bus station and got a bus straight to a place called Longsceng and from there onto a town called Ping'an. A place Ad had read about that contained rows upon rows of rice paddy fields, which from the pictures looked very beautiful and well worth a look. Considering we had to change many buses, the journeys all seemed to flow quite smoothly, a little longer than expected, but we arrived just as it was getting dark. Thought a scam was being swung when a lady got on the bus and only came to us for a fee for entering the area, I can't remember the cost now, but it was overly cheap. However, luckily Ad had read that a fee would be charged and after us the lady did go to the Chinese tourists, so it wasn't just us.
A very sweet local lady amongst others approached us as we got off the bus, to offer us a room in her house. We followed her up the many slightly steep pavements and steps up the hill to her house. There were only us and a handful of Chinese tourists who were following another lady. It only took about 15 minutes to reach her place, but was possibly one of the most upsetting walks in my life.
It had to be now didn't it - two guys had a pig tied to a log, by it's feet and decided to join us as we walked up the hill. The log perched on each of their shoulders as they went. The pig, who clearly was in a shocking amount of pain, was screaming so loudly. I wanted to knock the guys down and untie the poor thing. Surely there is a much better way of getting the pigs up the hill, why can't they just walk it up, it has legs doesn't it? I was outraged, but the only thing I could do without losing myself was walk with my fingers in my ears and try my hardest to block it out. It was so awful, I just prayed that they put it out of it's misery in the quickest way possible, I couldn't bare the thought of the poor thing suffering for too much longer. To make things worse, they put the pig down right outside the house we were staying at, I unfortunately got to see the guy wack the poor thing with a stick and laugh as we got closer and just glared at him with discust. While in the room overlooking the creature, I could still hear it's cried and it really upset me. Ad was so sweet and comforted me, we watched a bit of friends to try and drown out the noise and calm me down. Eventually the noise had stopped and I was able to contain my emotions. It's a little two faced of me, considering I eat meat, but I do like to believe that the animals are treated with some decency before being killed.
We went down for dinner eventually and being this ladies only guests, we were able to haggle down the prices a little. It wasn't us being stingy, the prices were considerably high compared to anywhere we've eaten yet, so think it was quite fair. Plus we ordered 3 dishes and only took a little of each price, so she was still getting a fair deal. She seemed happy anyway and we were delighted with the fried rice, pumpkin and chicken dishes that she brought out. The chicken was mainly bone, but everything else was delicious. Played some cards before and after and then off to bed. The place was very barn like, big wooden pillars and high ceilings, it was really nice, something you would expect in the wild wild west.
Tuesday 10th November - AMONGST THE RICE TERRACES
Getting good at the ole haggling now, Ad managed to knock some pennies off of our two fried noodles with veggies for morning breakfast, every little counts. Whilst walking around the houses, it really did feel we were on set of a wild wild west film. All built similar to the one we were staying in, wooden, with high roofs and large wooden windows, it was fabulous. It started to rain a little which gave the area a grey dull look, but somehow it worked and the beauty of the terraces shone out of the gloom. Was such a beautiful place to walk around. In and out of the many terraces, following the dragon trail and tiger trail as the signposts stated. The views from the top were gorgeous and you could even see smoke coming from chimneys out in the distance, but in between the villages were hills of these terraces that stretched for miles. The village was filled with farm animals, it was very oldie worldie, but had a real uniqueness about it, I can see why so many people come to visit. I guess on some levels the people here are very fortunate to have such rich agricultural land. Not only can they grow just about anything here, it make a lovely place to live as well and they must do really well from the crops they grow and the tourists coming to visit.
Somewhere deep into the terraces up on the hill we came across some local ladies, dressed in traditional clothing. They were very friendly and kindly let us take pictures of them. I guess we were a little confused as to why they were dressed like this because we had not seen anyone in the village dressed like it, but then guessed that some people just prefer to be in the traditional wear - boy were we wrong. They proceeded to take down there hair and we then realized these ladies are quite famous here, they never cut their hair and therefore it almost reaches their feet when the take it down. One of them was full of smiles and let us take pic's of their hair down, being held by them and showed us how they tie it back up. We even got in the pictures. We should of known it was too good to be true. As soon as the hair was tied back up and we said thank you, they demanded money from us. When we said we didn't have any on us, it was back in the town, they started patting our pockets and then said they would follow us into town to get it. We were not going back for a while yet and in fact did have some money on us but just continued on our way, the things is if they had said at the start that they'll only do this for money, we would have said no worries and moved on, but they said nothing. It's all about the money in these areas. They followed us for a while and then finally disappeared, we told them we had deleted the pics but they did not believe us. Anyway, onwards we went feeling a little let down. I guess that's why they are here though, should have seen it coming really. OH WELL!
Made our way up round the hill to another view point, where we saw more of the local ladies, this time they asked if we'd like to see their hair for money and we politely said no thanks, secretly pleased that we managed to get those earlier pictures, it seems to be a popular attraction here. This area was crammed with tourists, perhaps because it is the easiest and quickest view point to get to. Didn't feel as isolated as the other areas though and became a little less appealing to us. Took our pictures and quickly moved on. Saw lots of baby ducks and chicks as we made our way to the house arrrhhh, so cute. Picked up our bags and said thanks for having us. Headed to the bus station, in the hope of getting the next bus outta here. The lady who's house we've been staying in, was there with her friends, waiting for the next load of tourists to come in. We gave them our what we call sand sweets, we really didn't want them anymore and it was nice to see they actually seemed to enjoy them, sitting around giggling like a group of young girls, so sweet. Sat around for a while waiting for bus.
A really nice Chinese girl on the bus got chatting to us, not only did she help us arrange transport direct to Guilin, where her and her friend were going also, but she also bought us some Ganja. No not what you are thinking - Ganja is what the locals call sugar cane. You simply bite a bit off, suck all the juice out of it and spit the remains in a bag - it's actually very refreshing, much more juice than I expected to get out of - what looked to me like bamboo. We changed buses on route, on a main road, but this meant we would have a more direct route and hopefully save a bit of time.