Friday June 6, 2008 (backdated entry) – Rice Terraces of Dazhai

Had hoped we’d get to glimpse the Olympic Torch run in Guilin, but we didn’t make it a priority, taking our time getting up and out of Yangshuo. By the time we got to Guilin, it looked like the run was over, judging by the dispersed number of people wandering around wearing I <heart> China shirts and shirts with the Olympic mascot logo.

The rough plan was to make it to the Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces, except out to Dazhai instead of Ping’an, since Ping’an was written up fairly heavily in the Lonely Planet, whereas Dazhai only had a mention that it was possible to stay in one inn overnight, from a 4 hour trek originating in Ping’an. I had read on a website that the road was built out to Dazhai, but that it was less touristed. Meaning the rice terraces were even more spectacular there, and that we could escape the backpacker crowd temporarily.

Getting off at Heping, a woman showed us photos of her guesthouse in Dazhai! (Look Sunrise Inn) Very easy indeed. A few other Chinese tourists who had also disembarked were also sold. So then we got on a bus together, enduring about an hour on an extremely rough road. On the ride there. the woman, who didn’t speak any English, except the word “mommy”, pointed to our entrance ticket photo of Yao women, and indicated that her mom was Yao!

About another 20 minutes sweaty hike up rice terraces and then we were finally there! We got the best room in the place, IMO – top floor, corner room with sunset and sunrise views of the rice terraces. The others opted for rooms with private bathroom, but, meh, who cares?

Sweaty hike up to our inn

Our room! Best in the inn

As a side note, I was thankful we didn’t have an attached bathroom because I saw the most blood curdling bugs in the bathroom later… After seeing someone had left a turd unflushed in the squat toilet, I did a pre-flush, yet somehow the LARGEST roach (about 1-1.5″ long, I swear!) came crawling out of the toilet!! I did my best not to scream, and turned on the flush valve full blast for a good 10 seconds… Yet next time I went to use the toilet, another one appeared out of the bowels of the toilet!! Some extremely nasty bugs out there, but I put up with it in order to see the amazing terraces.

Amazing view, just 10 steps from our guesthouse

We had dinner with the 3 other Chinese couples staying there. One couple is from Beijing (they speak some English), one couple from Nanning (she could speak Cantonese but unfortunately my Cantonese ability still limited us from communicating!.. sad, yes), and the other couple I wasn’t too sure about (she was a bit of a girly girl and left the group after the meal, not sticking around for the drinking. Next day she didn’t join us for the sunrise hike but ventured out in the afternoon with umbrella in hand). The guesthouse cooked up a catfish (delicious!) and killed a chicken for our dinner… Nolan said while I was in the shower, when they were sitting around they’d hear the odd scream from the chicken being killed.

Our “Uncle” from Beijing and his wife

I think having dinner with the other Chinese tourists was my favorite “Chinese” experience! Great food, bottles of the local beer, and amazing homemade Chinese wine with fun company. The guy from Beijing told us to call him “Uncle”, and he was quite the character. He had us drinking up lots of LiQuan beer, and whenever he’d ask the guesthouse owner for something, he’d yell out, “Lo Po!!!” (Sir) He said, if you only know 500 words of the local language, you can get by travelling just fine. He told us about how he had travelled to Russia, and wanted to go to the zoo. He stopped someone, made a number of animal noises, then said and motioned, “all together” in Russian, and they understood he was looking for the zoo.

Fortunately we switched to drinking tea after awhile, since we did have to get up for our 4 AM hike to watch the sunrise!

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