Well we had the best of intentions, to hike through some Yao villages and see the beautiful "Dragon's Back" rice terraces of Long Sheng, however the weather had other ideas and it was totally socked in, drizzly and icy! We decided to go for it anyway, and here we are on the climb up, stopping at a little tourist trap.
Some pancakes and "100 year old eggs" for sale. Anything warm looks good at this point!
It was nearly a 2 hour hike to the top of the Dragon's Back, on treacherous steps. How to make a slippery step: First, make it out of slate. Second, get it wet. Third, wait until the water freezes and presto - instant danger! This Zhuang woman offered her services - to carry Sophie in her basket up and down the mountain for 50 quai. SOLD! Sophie loved it (most of the time), and we were having trouble keeping our own balance without having to carry Sophie - but this woman went right up the mountain without a problem. I did feel a bit guilty having a 70 year old woman carry my daughter up the steep hill, but just for a moment! :)
Some lizard skins that were drying - our guide said they were for medicinal purposes. I hope I never get that sick :)
Some of the frozen rice paddies. Unfortunately the foggy weather didn't really allow us to see the full expanse of them although we could tell they go on forever. Here's a site with a few pictures of what we were SUPPOSED to see...
The bamboo on the hillside was beautiful - bent over with the weight of the frozen rain and mist. BRRR!
Jack and Peter loved the misty conditions, and Sophie enjoyed her ride!
The steps were covered with ice in some places - our guide, Michael was the only one that fell, and Sophie thought he was doing it as a comedy act just for her!
There are 55 ethnic groups in China - Sophie's "sherpa" is a member of the Zhuang people, our guide, Michael is a member of the Dong people, and we also met these women who are Yao. Yao women only cut their hair once in their lives - when they are 18 years old. For a few quai they unraveled their locks to let us have a look. Yao women have the longest hair in the world!
Peter and Jack with a Yao.
Another Yao with her hair all piled up on her head...
On our way back down the mountain, we came upon a woman firing these pieces of bamboo. What is inside, we asked?
She opened one up to reveal a delicious mixture of rice, vegetables and meat. Delicious! We shared scrumptious bites of hot rice and meat as we slid our way back down the mountain.
We stopped at a family guest house for some lunch, and the family invited us in to come sit around a small fire in their kitchen. The lady of the house proudly showed us her RAT that they had trapped on the mountain, which she was preparing in front of us. Did I mention that it was a RAT? No, I'm not kidding!
Sue, inspecting the rat. They offered it to us for lunch as a delicacy, but we politely declined, saying it was too special. Apologies for the picture quality - it was very dark in there!
They served us a lovely lunch that really hit the spot, and then we endured yet another 2 HOUR ride back to our hotel, where it was time to hit the hot springs! We adorned the robes given to make our way down the COOOLD walkway to the springs.
After the LONG COLD walk in 30 degrees, it felt so GOOD to get into the hot springs. There are many pools there, and we headed straight for the hot one!
And we finally made it into the "fish doctor" pool. You sit in a hot pool with about 30,000 (I asked) small minnow-like fish. They swarm around you and eat the bacteria and dead skin off of you and it feels somewhere between pin pricks and sandpaper on your skin. Sophie wouldn't get in, until we told her the fish were giving her kisses :). It felt SO strange! We stared at our feet as they disappeared under masses of hungry fish!