Longji rice terraces (Guilin, China)

The Longji (Dragon’s Backbone) rice terraces, so called because the rice terraces look like scales on the back of a windy mountainous dragon. They are incredible feats of engineering, consisting of mud wall dams, canals, and sometimes even bamboo pipes to move the water where it needs to go.

Maintaining and farming rice terraces is backbreaking work. Work that locals are increasingly turning away from now that other opportunities in the cities or in tourism are available. But without the rice terraces, there is no tourism. So according to our guide, local farmers are paid an additional monthly income as an incentive to continue farming. Even with that, however, some of the terraces are noticeably deteriorating and the younger generation prefers less labor-intensive work.

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