Today we headed out bright and early for a day trip to Huangluo Yao village. The village is pretty much part of the Guilin sightseeing trifecta, along with a cruise on the Li River and several of the city tour sights. The main attraction at this village is the rice terraces built all along the side of a mountain. They have some real postcard-perfect scenery in the place, and from the books and postcards we saw in shops, it looks like a pretty amazing village year round. In winter, the terraces are covered in snow, which looks very interesting. Early in the spring, they flood with water, and sunrise and sunset pics reflecting off the water look really incredible. In the fall, the drying rice crop colors the scene gold. We’re here well into the summer though, and were met with lush green terraces, which was also very pretty.
Another tourist draw to the village is the local minority population called the “Yao.” They are famous for the women with really long hair. The Guinness world record lady with 18 ft. long hair is Yao. It seems to be pretty central to the cultural identity of the women there. Besides the really bright and unique clothing (which looks very similar to Peruvian I think), they have basically three hairstyles through their lifespan. Before marriage, their hair is kept wrapped in a black cloth, and is not supposed to be shown in public. It’s shown first to her husband, which I’m sure is completely amazing for him, since the only time he’s seen long black hair is on every other woman in the village. After marriage, they are able to show their hair in public, and they transition to the “snail” hairstyle. Finally, after they have children they get the “dragon” hairstyle. Basically then, that makes all moms in the village dragon ladies. Pretty interesting and maybe a little funny as an outsider. They put on a little show where they come out and show and explain all this stuff. I gotta say though, when Martha had hair that long (around her ankles) it was a lot fuller at the end, so when they showed off, I kinda yawned.
To get a nice view of the rice terraces, you really have to hoof it up a decent sized little hillside. It was fairly brisk in the heat. Most of the time, sites that involve a lot of exertion to get to them really thin out the herd of tourists. At a minimum, they often thin out the huge mega busloads led by guides with megaphones. At this site though, they actually have guys that will carry you up the mountain in a little chair that two guys hoist onto their shoulders. So there you go, access granted for the “masses.” Those little Chinese guys are really working hard, sweating their asses off carrying lazy tourists up and down the hill. Anyway, it’s really a destination centered on the scenic beauty, so I’ll just close with a few pics. Had a fun time and it was really pretty.