Longshen mists

Once I was all settled into the hotel, I immediately set out to hike up into the mountains above Longshen to see the famous terraced rice paddies.  On my way out of town I was besieged by Yao women who tried to sell me every type of tourist article that they had.  Luckily I had my camera ready and was able to capture this shot of them before they realized my presence; as soon as I snapped this photo, they quickly ran to their vendor tables and called to me to come and shop.

But, I had not come to shop, I had come to trek.  I smiled politely and continued up the mountain.  I remembered the Lonely Planet episode wherein the LP traveller could not see the rice paddies due to the fog and mists and had a bad feeling that I might have similar luck.

When I reached the summit at the first turnoff, sure enough, it was completely fogged in.  I could see the first dozen or so meters but the rest of the huge terraced valley that lay below me was shrouded in mist.  I hoped that as the afternoon wore on the sun would burn off some of the fog and I decided to continue hiking.

Despite the thick fog, the forest and mountains had a very mysterious look and feel to them.  As I started to look around I began to see the beauty that peeked out from time to time through the clouds.

As I worked our way around the summit of the mountain, I came upon some Yao women on the trail.  I took their photos and had a brief chat with them.  It was so nice that Erica was along and could translate for me.  In this photo you can see how thick the fog was at times.

I asked one of the Yao woman to show us her hair and she obliged me by untying it and lowering it down to show me how long it was.  I found it very interesting that such minority groups still exist in China.  Despite the Communist Revolution and the intense pressure for everyone to assimilate to the culture of the party, these resilient groups seem to have retained their cultural heritage.

On the far side of the mountain I wasagain tormented by thick fog.  I tried to imagine what it would look like so see thousands and thousands of feet down the mountainside covered with terraced rice paddies.  I hoped for clearing weather, and then I hiked on…

At the summit of the tallest mountain in the Longshen area, I came to a simple little squat house where a woman and her daughter lived.  The daughter’s face was grotesquely deformed and at first I thought that she suffered from Leprosy.  I talked with the mother but the daughter stayed just inside the threshold of the small shack where they lived.  I felt so bad for them; they lived such impoverished lives.

A few hours later, while I was hiking, I saw the old woman as she walked along the trail picking up gum wrappers, cigarette butts and other trash left behind by careless tourists.  It made me think about the disparities in life…

When I asked Erica what happened to the girl, she said that she believed that she was deformed to to genetic abnormalities; it seems that some of the ethnic groups have interbred for many generations and have had some birth defect problems.

I was tempted to take a photo of the woman and her daughter but I did not want to be rude.  One of her roosters walked by and I thought that his bright colors made a fine photo – especially when highlighted against the drab grey mists that hung over our hike…

I hiked and hiked, always hoping for a miracle – that the clouds would part and give me a view.  Every time I was about to pack it in and return to the hotel, the mists would open just a little, allowing me to see a bit further down the mountain, tricking me again and again to keep hiking.

By the time that I finished the circle trail that led back to Longshen, I looked out over this ridgeline and I could see that the clouds would not break, at least not today.  I had purchased a nice French red wine, I was hungry, and I decided to pack it in and head back to the hotel.


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