Greetings from the little minority village of Ping’An (peeng-awn), nestled high in the hills, surrounded in every possible direction by absolutely stunning rice terraces named “The Dragon’s Backbone.”
There is no road or vehicle that comes directly here. This was the culmination of two bus rides through China’s back country. First to a town called Longshen, of which I only saw the bus station bathroom (which, I might add, didn’t even have squat toilets, just door less stalls and a trough that ran the length of the bathroom!). The bus ride up took us past orchards that began to rise into the hills.
Then it was on to a local bus. There were no comfy seats or TV sets. As the bus filled up, a board was placed over the engine for people to sit on.
After 3.5 hours and many switchbacks, the bus stopped at the base of a seemingly never ending stone staircase that led into the town.
There were 8 tourists on the bus…myself, a French Canadian fellow from Montreal, a French national residing in London and 5 Chinese nationals, one of whom spoke impeccable English. We banded together in finding lodging and were able to get a bargain room rate (2 people in a room at RMB 50 a room so RMB 25 a person or about US$4).
As we’d come this far together, the 8 of us decided to eat dinner together. In true Chinese fashion, we ordered 8 dishes and shared. At a nearby table sat a group of Germans and their Chinese guide. They joined us for some home brewed rice wine and tea.
After dinner, another Canadian fellow walked in, this one from Toronto. He was a student taking online college classes with the plan of spending at least a year in China. He had been staying in this village for a month already!
Now it is morning and I was awoken by birds chirping and roosters crowing. Given our altitude, the town is enveloped in fast moving clouds. Every once and a while we get fleeting glimpses of the truly mesmerizing scenery around us.
The plan for today is to trek to a village about 4 hours away called Dazhai, where we will probably spend tonight. I will be joined by both Canadians, the French woman, and the English speaking Chinese girl (all of us traveling solo). Should be interesting!