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“Off Path” in Longsheng A “Guys” Hiking Trip

Editor’s Note: This is a “travelogue” written by Louie Yi on a recent hiking trip to LongSheng, a Yao Minority county approximately 50 miles north of Guilin in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

Louie Yi: Expedition Specialist and Lotus Travel President:

“I had been to LongSheng three times before but I did not take many photos. Since I had gotten a nice Nikon D3X camera from my wife as a birthday gift, I wanted to use it as much as possible and thought this trip excursion would be perfect time and place to make full use of it. Traveling to LongSheng has been a dream of mine. It has picturesque rice paddies and the Yao Minority girls in this area have long hair and wear traditional minority dresses -- which can make beautiful photographs.

I called my friends in Guilin, Mr. Bai and Mr. Long to accompany me. Mr. Bai is a long time friend of mine. He has many similar habits like me such as cooking, travel, and photography. Mr. Long is a young guy, who works as a tour guide in Guilin. So, it was decided the three of us would be travel companions on a hiking trip to LongSheng.

On a crisp Fall morning we met for a special rice noodle breakfast. The city of Guilin is famous for this – their rice noodles-- it is a very special dish. Mr. Bai took us to a rice noodle restaurant located in a small lane where we had these special rice noodles for breakfast. Mr. Bai is a gourmet cook and knows all kinds of restaurants in Guilin. But he always complains he is too stressed to find something new for me because I am a “connoisseur” of fine food. I think he choose a wonderful spot for Guilin breakfast noodles for our first outing.

After a one and half hour drive, we got to the foot of the hiking hill which is1100 meters (more than a mile) high. It would take four hours of walking to get to our destination – JinKeng (Golden Pithead). We decide to have an early lunch before the 4 hours of “exercise”. This proved to be a wise decision as we found no food -- only drinks and ice cream during the four hours of walking.

We hired a local farmer from the village to lead us. He asked for RMB100 for taking us to our hotel at JinKeng FengJingLou (JinKeng Scenery Tower) which is near the top. And he carried my camera bag for me, without the heavy cameras of course. I stopped my Chinese friends bargaining with him and we started our journey right after the lunch. Although I carried only two cameras, Nikon D60 – my old friend, and Nikon D3X – my new friend, it was tough to take them with me all the way up for about four hours. This was a serious hike!

The scenery was absolutely beautiful though it was quite hazy and much of golden rice has been just cut. Finally we got to our hotel JinKeng Scenery Tower after 3.5 hours walking. It was just before dusk but we could not see the sun set because of a fog that had moved in. The JinKeng Scenery Tower was at a very nice location but unfortunately the front desk girl was not very friendly. I suggested walking down to the different guest house for dinner. None of my friends liked my advice as they were too tired to do any more walking after our 4 hour “workout”. We stayed and ate at the guesthouse restaurant where the food was just “so so”. However, with a cup of rice wine, we were felt content to stay and relax.

Since we were staying in a traditional guesthouse, three of us stayed in a triple room with 3 beds and had to use the shared public bathroom. There are 2 public bathrooms for 10 rooms with 25 guests on each floor. In order to avoid waiting line, I took shower in the public bathroom as soon as I checked in our room. I found no towel in the room when I was going to take shower. Of course I did not bring it with me as I had not expected to stay in this type of guest house. Luckily the front desk had a kitchen towel. I paid RMB10 for it. This reminded me of the olden days in China before I moved to America fifteen years ago. At that time, it was customary for Chinese families to use a towel the size of a kitchen hand towel for a shower.

I am reminded with this “old fashioned” guest house stay the many changes I have I’ve seen in the US and China in the past 15 years. In this guesthouse there was no TV in our room and no bar in the guest house. Many Americans would say this guest house was very “rustic”. With inadequate light my friends read magazines and I settled down to try and read the days’ old newspaper. Since I had not brought my reading glasses, it was too difficult to read and we began chatting while on our beds. While we shared lots of funny travel stories, we could hear a guest in the next room snoring. Suddenly the snoring stopped and someone knocked on our pine-wood wall. The guest next door was awakened by our talking. We decided to stop chatting; based on our good exercise earlier, I fell to sleep immediately.

That night our youngest friend, Xiao Long suffered from both Mr. Bai and me on his right and left. While he slept in the middle bed, Xiao Long thought he should go to sleep later than us since he thought he would snore. However, he did not know that Mr. Bai and I snored much louder! Poor Xiao Long had to use the blanket to cover his ears.

The next day we got up in the early morning for a set breakfast of one bowl of congee, 2 steamed buns, 1 boiled egg, 3 steamed sweet potatoes, and 2 pancakes for a set price of 10 RMB. Xiao Long was too picky to enjoy the breakfast and he finished only half of his food. I did not want to waste food, so I ate all his sweet potatoes, egg, and pancakes. The rich breakfast helped me to finish 6 hours of walking that morning. We started our “Long March” at 7:00AM and arrived at our scheduled destination – LongJi (Dragon Back) at 1:00PM. The scenery was very much similar as the day before with rice terraced fields and beautiful mountain scenery, some partially concealed by fog. I also saw local villagers using horses to carry loads from the foot of the mountain up toward higher ground. They also used horses to harvest and separate grain from the rice plant, which was a slow and laborious process.

By this time, poor Xiao Long was so hungry that he could have finished a whole pig on his own. We stopped at a restaurant with many tourists and ordered steamed bamboo pole rice, dry tiny fish with sour long beams, stir-fried cabbage, and chicken with bamboo shoots. Our original plan was to stay at LongJi (Dragon Back) for the evening. None of us was willing to have another “rustic” guest house experience at a new location. So, instead, we took an hour and a half hour drive to return to Guilin. We arrived safely with beautiful photos, good memories and very sore, painful legs from 10 hours of hiking. It’s a “guy thing”.

Louie Yi,
Expedition Specialist
President, Lotus Travel

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