China – Yuanyang Rice Terraces

Our hostel is located in a small Hani village called Pugaolaozhai, inside Duoyishu, one of the places to see the sunrise over the rice terraces of Yuanyang. Going there requires us to take a 7-hour bus from Kunming which goes to the Old Yuanyang town, called Xinjiezhe, then bargain for the price of a 1-hour minivan to our destination. When we arrive at night, a traditionally dressed Hani woman walks us to the hostel crossing small stone alleys and bridges. The village where we stay and other villages will finally show us the rural China we were looking for, despite the touristy presence represented by multiple inns all around. Once at the hostel, a lovely old woman serves us dinner. There is no menu and nobody speaks English except Jacky—the owner of the hostel who is not around—so we do not dare to ask for vegetarian food.

View from our hostel.

View from our hostel.

At the entrance is where the fresh veggies are stored.

At the entrance is where the fresh veggies are stored.

The door of our hostel looks to a small pond.

The door of our hostel looks to a small pond.

Another pond with water lilies.

Another pond with water lilies.

Streets of our village.

Streets of our village.

Some kids playing around.

Some kids playing around.

A house full of wood going uphill.

A house full of wood going uphill.

The view from the Duoyishu official viewing point.

The view from the Duoyishu official viewing point.

The first day we wake up a bit late and there is nobody in the common areas of our hostel except for our host Jacky who is curious about what we have in mind for today. The guidebooks say that one of the best places to see the sunset is from the village of Bada. Jacky agrees and asks us to sit down in the dinner area with him. A white paper suddenly appears in the table and he starts drawing a super detailed map with directions to Bada between villages and what to look for to avoid getting lost. Despite being a bit late, the timing is perfect and there is even time to visit the market being hold in the next town.

From the minivan we shoot a local family with the kid, the meat hanging and all.

From the minivan we shoot a local family with the kid, the meat hanging and all.

What remains of the market. Not as clean as we are used to.

What remains of the market. Not as clean as we are used to.

Green peppers everywhere!

Green peppers everywhere!

The amazing role-playing to weight some fruit and give us a fake price that we refuse of course.

The amazing role-playing to weight some fruit and give us a fake price that we refuse of course.

Sleeping on the rocks like a boss.

Sleeping on the rocks like a boss.

The area of Yuanyang is inhabited by Hani and Yi people. Both can be clearly differentiated by their traditional costumes that they wear all around. The Yi wear colorful, embroidered dresses and cover their hair with also colorful scarves, while the Hani wear characteristic black or dark blue clothes also covering their heads with black or blue scarves. We take lunch at one small restaurant next to the market. A picture with the owners happens to be saved on our camera:

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Bellies filled, it is time to start the path to Bada. At the beginning the path is paved between rice fields and there are some water buffaloes and people of all ages carrying huge baskets. We feel sissies with our small backpacks and move on passing through two small villages. There are some cute piglets, chicks, roosters and ducks all around that we can’t stop looking while locals look at us at the same time.

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Hani house with the characteristic clothes hanging.

Hani house with the characteristic clothes hanging.

Beware the rooster!

Beware the rooster!

Locals working the fields from avobe.

Locals working the fields from avobe.

View from a cliff next to the road.

View from a cliff next to the road.

Same view from the cliff.

Same view from the cliff.

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Inside the second village.

Inside the second village.

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After the entrance of the second village we take a left on the fork as specified by our super map and trade the paved road with a beautiful dirt and stone path between fields—also with more water buffaloes, small villages and amazing scenery.

A field seen from the path.

A field seen from the path.

Carrying is caring.

Carrying is caring.

Spiders hanging all over our heads.

Spiders hanging all over our heads.

Looking for the picture. It feels like a toon.

Looking for the picture. It feels like a toon.

Dramatic pose.

Dramatic pose.

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Locals also enjoy the views. It is understandable.

Locals also enjoy the views. It is understandable.

We finally arrive to Bada, which is a small village set next to a cliff with amazing views of the rice terraces. There is a touristy viewing point full of noisy people and selfies 15 minutes after Bada. Surprisingly, the views from the official viewing point are worse so we decide to come back to Bada to see the sunset with almost nobody. Some local adventurous kids are teasing Irene who is playing to catch them until one of them suddenly disappears down the cliff. Yells and cries can be heard from below while we panic trying to figure out where the kid has fallen. More kids and locals arrive and finally we discover the kid has fallen just 2 meters into some bushes. We help some locals to get down and rescue the kid who is perfectly fine to everyone’s relief. At the end it was just a shock that ended in laughs and we try to forget it with the amazing scenery. Phew.

Before the entrance to Bada, some stairs before were full of trash.

Before the entrance to Bada, some stairs before were full of trash.

Arriving to the cliff of Bada, after the stairs at the end.

Arriving to the cliff of Bada, after the stairs at the end.

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The entrance to Bada going back to see the sunset.

The entrance to Bada going back to see the sunset.

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A local from Bada was enjoying the view with us.

A local from Bada was enjoying the view with us.

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The next and last full day in Yuanyang we wake up early to see the sunrise directly from our hostel balcony. There is a big stubborn cloud staying in the center of the picture but it is still worth it. Some local people is already working on the fields at 7 am and it is not precisely warm. We feel like sissies again while we go back to bed to sleep a bit more…

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Later we wake up a bit late again and the same story repeats itself. Jacky is willing to help and draws us another super map to visit a local authentic Hani village hidden behind a first village some kilometers down the road. There is also a path after the village that we follow a bit between rice fields before going back to be driven to the hostel by some other Chinese visitors that found us amusing.

An old man is peacefully sleeping in our village.

An old man is peacefully sleeping in our village.

A local truck while walking down the road.

A local truck while walking down the road.

At the first village, some land work is going on.

At the first village, some land work is going on.

Water buffaloes taking a bath to enforce their names.

Water buffaloes taking a bath to enforce their names.

At the Hani village, detail of how the roofs are made.

At the Hani village, detail of how the roofs are made.

Pigs being pigs.

Pigs being pigs.

A kid flees from mum.

A kid flees from mum.

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Walking the path after the village, a stream of water carries all the trash. Not everything is green and beautiful here.

Walking the path after the village, a stream of water carries all the trash. Not everything is green and beautiful here.

The path after the Hani village.

The path after the Hani village.

Rice field with straws let to dry to be used later for animal feeding and for the roofs.

Rice field with straws let to dry to be used later for animal feeding and for the roofs.

The mud fills some rice terraces to give a different color.

The mud fills some rice terraces to give a different color.

Detail of the rice plant.

Detail of the rice plant.

Buffaloes just hanging around. They are so cute.

Buffaloes just hanging around. They are so cute.

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Going back to the village. An old woman makes us feel like sissies again.

Going back to the village. An old woman makes us feel like sissies again.

Old mill from past times.

Old mill from past times.

A pool board made it into the town some day and now entertains the kids.

A pool board made it into the town some day and now entertains the kids.

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This is how women usually dress all around.

This is how women usually dress all around.

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The people that drove us back to the hostel. They were super nice and willing to take pictures of us of course.

The people that drove us back to the hostel. They were super nice and willing to take pictures of us of course.

It is full of cubs everywhere.

It is full of cubs everywhere.

More piglets, they are so nice and get scared at the beginning, but later they show up again.

More piglets, they are so nice and get scared at the beginning, but later they show up again.

4 thoughts on “China – Yuanyang Rice Terraces

  1. These look like a typical villages in China. The are seems to be very tranquil, good for meditation. How was the food? Mainly vegetarian?

    Hope to see more of your next adventure!

  2. Great adventures! These photos are quite inspiring. Thanks for sharing your experiences and looking forward to more updates 🙂

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