I’ve had a lot of exercise here walking up and down stone stepped paths between the rice terraces getting lost, sweating buckets, passing through tiny wooden housed Yao villages, searching out view points.
Today I woke up to rain and atmospheric must shrouding the moutains. This meant I shelved the walk to ping an. As the rain eased I went for what was intended as a stroll which took me up to view point 2 (music from paradise) where I watched a duck furraging in the paddy for grubs, forgetting the drizzle until a passing Chinese stopped and held her umbrella over me as I took pictures. I like rain. I like watching people trying to cope with the weather. Tourists are particularly funny in their brightly coloured rain ponchos, umbrellas and ubiquitous selfie sticks, carrying on regardless. The locals are much more canny. No building work today, nobody tending the rice, no Yao women trying to sell you postcards. When I start walking I find it hard to stop and today I went on to,”seven stars chase the moon” then to “thousand layers to the heaven”, down to zhuangjie village, where I got lost but eventually came down on top of Dazhai. I had a lunch of spicy tofu and rice, which was enormous. Fortified I tackled the climb to the highest point, seen directly from the terrace at my hostel, “golden Buddha peak”. A nice path that climbs alongside a bubbling stream, fir trees, ferns, colourful flowers, butterflies, one type the size of my hand. There are a lot of people coming down the mountain. Girls in dresses, some in flip flops. Evidently they took the cable car up and expect an easy descent. There is a massive multi-layered viewing terrace at the top. An orgy of photo activities: dressing in ethnic costumes, touching a massive unhappy tortoise, some holy wood with an inscription. Yao women weaving and attempting to sell their wastes. It’s not raining but the low cloud drifts across the valleys. I’m now very familiar with the geography here and can make out everywhere I’ve been in the last few days. I’m looking for a cut across to tiantouzhai on the way down. This is the path I wanted to take yesterday, but once again I couldn’t find it. So I’m back in Dazhai to do the 40 minute climb back to tiantouzhai for the third day in a row. It’s interesting retracing a familiar path where there is do much life and noticing the small differences. The horse tethered by the building site is not there today. The 2 groups of card players are there again. This must be a daily activity at this time. The men clearing a site for probably a new guest house are not there today. The man cooking bamboo filled with rice on the first slope of my village is not cooking today. It’s a sweaty climb home and it feels wonderful to get back and relax.
Tiantouzhai is to the left of the centre of the picture.