In the deep south of the Yunnan province near the border with Vietnam, lies one of the more remote and intriguing attractions in China, the Yuanyang scenic area. This area is home to the Hani minority, who believe that the larger mountains in the area actually manage the smaller mountains, and to this day they still sacrifice animals to them. They also maintain one of the largest networks of rice terraces in the world, which was named a Unesco World Heritage site a couple years ago. Recently while on my path toward Vietnam, I stopped and spent two days here at Duoyishu.

The first day I followed a path down the from Shengcun to Laojingzai, and eventually onto Bada, which is the popular spot to watch the sunset over the terraces. It was a pleasant walk at the beginning through some jungly looking landscape with a couple terraces mixed in here and there, but then after an hour, I reached a rock outcropping where I could see ten to fifteen other hikers stopped all taking photos over the edge. It was a bit difficult to understand what could draw all of their attention until I got up to the top myself and took a look around, the other side of this outcropping was a 100-meter drop-off, from which you have a birdseye view of several miles of terraces. The distance is just about right that the haze doesn't get in between, allowing you to actually perceive the color and texture differences between each patch of terrace below.

Walking down from Shengcun

Laojingzai terrace fields

From there the only route I could locate to get to Bada was to climb up a thin cement irrigation canal feeding into the top of Laojingzai.The village is basically hanging off the edge of a mountain looking down on a 180-degree view of a landscape carved up with terraces, walking around this village I felt jealous of the people who live here and get to admire this view every day.

Pigs on the road at Laojingzai

Walking up the canal

Up the road about a kilometer is the famous viewpoint where tourists come to watch the sunset, here it was a bit windy and cold, but I grabbed a spot next to the railing and held onto it while other tourists started to show up for the sunset. By the time sunset actually occurred I was boxed in on all sides by other tourists and starting to shiver from the constant cold wind. Although I got some decent photos out of it, I'd almost wished I stayed in the village to take photos instead.

Bada terrace fields

On day two I made a plan to walk down to the village of Niuluo just a couple kilometers from my hotel. As I got ready in the morning I couldn't help notice that in place of the normal rooster sounds, I kept hearing what sounded like pigs shrieking and struggling. When I finally made it out to the road I came to see what all the commotion was about, scattered about on the street were carcasses of freshly killed pigs, most bleeding from the neck. Some families were even out on their driveways working together to remove all the internal organs and prepare for a large meal, what I learned later is that this is an important tradition of the local Hani families every year in the days leading up to the Chinese New Year.

After a fairly short walk, I reached Niuluo and proceeded toward the bottom of the village where I could walk into the terraces and explore. It was hard to tell from the road above, but the entire area between Niulou and Duoyishu which the road above curves around is absolutely filled with terraces. After seeing this I decided to challenge myself to see if I could make it all the way back to my hotel by venturing to the bottom of this terrace field and back up the other side. Many obstacles appeared which I wasn't anticipating, from barbed wire fences to rivers which were too wide to jump, and dogs who decided that I didn't belong there. It also turned out that the lower you go in the field the more irrigated the terraces are, so near the bottom I had to be extra careful not to slip on the muddy terrace walls. After couple hours though I finally made it up the other side with a freshly developing sunburn, I have to say that compared to watching the terraces from a viewpoint I would instead recommend this more interactive experience.


Coming back up the other side

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