Due to its altitude at 800 meters in Pingan there is only one rice harvest a year. But they can plant a variety that has a longer growing season and is there for more delicious.
Not only the rice planting, and harvest is very labour intensive, in fields a long walk away from home, also the maintaince of the fields, the dikes, the walls of the terraces is a lot of work.
The people in Pingan are from a minority called the Zhuang. The total Zhuang population is about 15 million people; Pingan, due to its remoteness, still has a very strong Zhuang culture. The people speak their own language that is closer related to Thai then to Chinese.
You haven t been to Pingan if you haven t tasted the ricewine. Ricecider would actually be a better name for this light alcoholic drink. It is made with cooked sticky rice. Cooked rice, water and yeast are the only ingredience, but one needs to know how to control the fermentation process, to get the right taste.
Pingan is a small village with about 800 people at an altitude of 800 meters. They belong to the Zhuang minority. Up to the 90's the village was quite remote; about a days travel from Guilin. From the nearest road it was about an hour and a half walk up the mountain. In the end of the 90's some families decided it was time for a road to the village and so they started building one. The Guilin Tourist Company soon realized that it would be a great tourist destination and took over the work on the road.
The road was finally finished at the turn of the century. A year orso later a public bus started to run from Longsheng to Pingan. Now that it was easier to get suplies to the village, building a new house, became the thing to do.
All new buidling were built the traditional way. Trees are carried from the mountain and each of them made to the right size depending on where in the building it is going to be used. Needless to say the carpenters are very skilled. The building then is put together with the help of 100 man.
In recent years, due to the demand of tourists, and the influx of outside business people, more and more concrete is used in the house building. The exterior has to be wood though.
The Liqing family were the first to open a guesthouse in Pingan. There were a few basic rooms upstairs and a basic toilet down in the basement. No body in the whole village spoke any English. The first time people said 'good morning" they were wondering what that was all about. It sounded like a Zhuang word that means small pig! The dutch tourcompany "Koning Aap" (Monkey King) was the first company to take groups to Pingan on a regular basis. As there was no telephone, reservations were made by mail and the group had to walk for two hours to get to the guesthouse. How quickly things can change!