Chao Long marked the end of my travels around China. In contrast to the bustling metropolis that is Beijing, Chao Long’s dusty roads lead to rice paddies and rivers, to thatched pergolas on the edge of orchards where we ate meals served straight from surrounding vegetable gardens and nearby rivers.
Chao Long is unadulterated, authentic rural China where life is dictated by the seasons; by the cycles of the production of rice. Villagers spend long hot days planting, harvesting and threshing rice where it is then spread out on concrete slabs in front of homes to dry in the summer sun. I awoke just before six one morning and ventured outside to where families had already begun their days work. I stood there in the middle of the rice paddies flanked by the great Li River, surrounded by the karst peaks which rise sharply from the earth. I will feel forever fortunate to have passed through such a breathtakingly beautiful landscape and to have experienced a way of life so foreign to my own.