Friday, May 02, 2008

Day 12 –Ping An

Woken this morning by firecrackers, a shop opening apparently. The rice (really a grass) paddies here were first built during the Yuang Dynasty then finished in Ming times, when the local tribe was pushed up into the mountains after a war. The clay here is strong and thick, creating waterproof walls for the paddies and the water supply from the limestone above is plentiful. Every possible slope has been cultivated on all sides. You can hear the frogs in their thousands. Swallows are favoured as they nest in pairs for life and symbolise love and loyalty.

It’s back breaking work, digging out the clay by hand, ploughing by buffalo, planting, fertilising, and reaping. The terraces are very slender hugging the contours of the hills, so everything is transported in baskets suspended on poles on people’s backs. The whole process needs constant care and attention. There’s two crops a year here, meaning even more work.

The local women only cut their hair once in their lifetime, when they’re eighteen. It’s long and black with a sheen from the rice water they use when washing. They’re also a good humoured lot.

We visited the local school but I abandoned the class visit (the usual singing for tourists) and went to the playground to play some kids at table tennis – I was roundly thrashed. We then had a game of basketball – great fun for all, even if I did fall over, graze my knee and rip my trousers! They love this game.


Post a Comment

<< Home