I have a sad confession to make. After all this time I have only just realised that comments are posted at the end of the blogs. I don't normally go over the blogs once I've done them but the other night I did and found the most encouraging comments from Christine, Kay, Judy, Nick, Steve, Debbie and Vivienne. Thank you so much. It is really good to hear from you and sorry that it took so long for the penny to drop!!
Last Wednesday, at the 11.9th hour, as usual, we were told that there would be no lessons on Thursday or Friday, so we decided to visit the Dragon's Backbone rice terraces at Longshen (see above). In spite of the relative proximity of Longshen, it took 3 buses and most of the day to get there, but what a spectacle when we arrived!! The rice terraces are quite high in the mountains and every inch of land has been carved and moulded into steps that follow and enhance the contours of the mountains, creating graceful stripes of negative and positive lines. Each 'step' has a small retaining wall, carefully maintained, to stop the water running away and at the time we were there, each 'step' was green with growing rice. Sad to say, some of the paddy fields are being neglected. The work, in these conditions,is extremely arduous and many of the locals prefer to turn their attention to the tourist trade instead, perhaps not realising that, without the rice terraces, there would be no tourist trade!
We took the bus from Longshen to a little village nestling amongst the rice terraces, called Ping'an - a magical place, marred only by torrential rain that ended up by curtailing our trip, as wave after wave of thick cloud billowed up the mountainside and obliterated the view. On the bus we met 3 English students from a university near Shanghai and a very obliging German hotellier, with a hotel in Ping'an. He took us under his wing, led us up the 1000 steps from where the bus stopped to the village of Ping'an, fed us coffee and cakes at his hotel and then arranged accommodation, not at his hotel, alas. It was a little bit of Germany in the middle of China - very swish and perfect for homesick Bavarians (like Bianca!) - but he only caters for prebooked groups. He also dispensed very useful advise and information.
All that accomplished, we then set off for the Viewpoint at the top of the mountain. More steps - probably another 1000 - up steep, narrow, winding paths and with every turn, another breathtaking view and on one occasion, a water buffelo being led up the mountainside. (Not something I was quite ready for, particularly as I was in danger of being dislodged from my very narrow step as it went past me! I retraced my steps, whimpering, with the water buffelo in hot pursuit until a safe passing spot was found!). We reached the top just as the rain started. In spite of unbrellas, we were soaked when we got back to the village.
The next day we woke to more of the same. Rain pouring off the roofs of the large, wooden houses, constructed without the benefit of a single nail, and crowded together, higgildy-piggildy, overhanging the narrow paths and walkways leading up through the village. Gushing in torrents down the narrow channels alongside the walkways, amongst the hens and ducks, and the Yao women, sitting in the doorways in their elaborate and colourful costumes and even more elaborate hair-do's. Traditionally, the Yao women never cut their hair and have the longest hair in all of China. In reality, they use hair extensions! They all have exactly the same hair style, which is very beautifully arranged under a sort of hat and for a small fee they will undo their hair, which reaches their knees, even without the extensions. So, with rain drenching everything and everyone, (and the German assuring us that it was only going to get worse), we decided to go back to Guilin.
At the bus station in Longshen we met up with a Chinese English teacher, called Jenny. She gives private English lessons to small groups of children and was very keen for us to spend the weekend with her and advise her about, well, I'm not sure quite what... As the rain was continuing to fall and we had nothing better to do, we went back to her flat with her. She was a delightful lady and, as always, it is so interesting to see how the Chinese live. I imagine she would be considered 'middle class' (she and her husband, who was away on business, are both professionals), but their flat would be considered uninhabitable in the UK. Certainly, no Council tenant would touch it with a barge pole! She took us to a local restuarant for a very splendid lunch which cost all of 50p. each (and I thought I was getting bargains!). We chatted to her pupils when they arrived and she cooked us a very nice supper on what amounted to not much more than a bunsen burner!
Yesterday I went to Yangshuo to see the Chinese doctor and had 90 minutes this morning at the tender mercies of Dr. Lily Li and her cohorts! At the end I could barely move. I was utterly exhausted and every inch of my body had been beaten and pulverised into submission! I go back in 3 weeks' time!!
I have a problem with the size of the font. Try asI might, I can't get it back to normal. Sorry about that, but I don't want to mess about with it too much in case I lose it all (which has been known to happen, once or twice!). So I will bid you all farewell for now and resume at a later date. Well, quite miraculously, the font has returned to the right size and all is well, so, please ignore the above.