Rice, tofu, and the local buses


Rice, tofu, and the local buses

On the 29th of March we spent the day up at the Rice Terraces. What a beautiful place. It's about 2 hours out of Guilin (The sister city of Haistings, NZ). We took a tourist bus at 8:30am out of town and headed on our way. We had a guide who was meant to speak English so us whities could understand. Unfortunately the guide didn't really enjoy speaking in English. He would talk about 15 mins in Chinese while every laughed and he pointed to stuff along the way, then would give us about six English sentences on the same topic. A bit frustrating when he was sold as an English speaking guide. Ahh well I am in China after all and it's only fair I guess.

The place where we visited has only recently been exposed to the outside world in many ways. The first road built into that part of the world was built in 2002 so it's very new. The average local income per person is $350 RMB =  $90 NZD per year (or was until the tourists started to arrive). That's not a lot of cash and they do everything themselves as a result. They build their own homes, cultivate and grow their own food etc. It's beautiful and rugged place. Tourism has done a lot for the place but also changed it a lot as well.

One specific group of people we visited never cut their hair. They believe hair is the source of life and so the woman never cut their hair. On average the hair is between 1.5-1.8 meters long. they also never wash it so it stinks hahaha.

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Since tourists have stared to visit the area, the younger girls have seen that many rich people don't have long hair and have decided to break with tradition and cut their hair because they no longer believe it holds the power of life. I'm not sure what I think about it all. On one hand it's good that they are getting exposure to the world and seeing new ideas and considering them. On the other hand they are bleeding their culture right out in one generation. There will be no long haired woman for the world to see in 20 years time.

The area has a road but it's like a nature reserve or something so we have to get off our bus and board shuttle busses. Our guide warned us about the road saying it's skinny and sometimes people scream while traveling on it. I was keen and a little worried at the same time. Having seen how people drive around China I can be sure they scream for a good reason. The average driving in China would make any NZer scared, so if this road is making the locals scared, them I'm worried hahaha. I was a little let down that only one girl screamed on the way up, and a couple put on their belts (which the Chinese never do). I was hoping for a little more excitement but never mind.

The village below the terraces was great. They have a speciality food which is cooked in bamboo. You can get bamboo rice, bamboo chicken, or bamboo mouse. The later was interesting. We saw a few of the nice cook and for sale on the way to a restaurant on the walk up and they are large mice. I'd say they were more like decent sided rats and that was after they were cooked. I suspect they are very large haha. I wasn't brave enough to eat the bamboo mouse so I just had bamboo rice. It was stunning. I'm totally going to try and cook this when I get home. They just use green bamboo and cook it in an open fire.

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After lunch we headed up the to the terraces. Here are a few pics in order of how I took them. Check out my flickr for all the photos.

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On a smaller note, I still don't like Tofu. I'm growing to like herbal tea but not Tofu. I thought I might but nah the stuff still stinks and tastes more bland than Potato (which is saying a lot from me because I don't like Potato at all!). Sinclair doesn't like Tofu either but he keeps buying it by mistake haha. There a lots of packaged foods that look a lot like meat. It's hard to tell them apart when buying them. More often than not Sinclair ends up buying Tofu hahaha. It drives him nuts and makes me laugh.

The Chinese love a certain type of Tofu which is actually known as 'Stinky Tofu' and man it stinks. It smells like a really dirty toilet. I hate the smell but the Chinese love it so you can smell it on every street corner. It makes everywhere smell like a public loo. I won't miss that when I'm home.

One of the ways to get around on the cheap in China is the local bus system. It's not a bad system I suspect as there are buses everywhere but it's a little hard to navigate when you don't speak the language. Still Sinclair and I have managed to do it a couple of times. Finding the bus station is hard as they aren't anything like in NZ with a big depot. Often they are a huge parking lot hidden down a side street and down an ally. How the buses get down there I don't know. They have criers everywhere yelling out the destination of the bus though so you just need to listen out for that. The only problem from then on is figuring out if you are on an express bus or one that stops all the way (can be a huge difference in the time it takes to get anywhere), then figuring out how much to pay for a ticket, then figuring out where you want to get off as they don't have street names, bus stops, or speak any English. If you can manage all that, it's good fun and not to hard. Sinclair and I suck at it but haven't had any major issues so far.

3 comments (Add your own)

1. penny wrote:
Great pics. Looks like a fascinating region. Has that lad Sam joined up with you again?

Thu, April 2, 2009 @ 6:19 PM

2. Hayden Sanders wrote:
Yeah he has. He joined us yesterday. We are all together again and it's good.

Thu, April 2, 2009 @ 6:29 PM

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