China brims with amazing landscapes; amongst my favourites are the fabulously beautiful rice terraces that are found across the country.
Hewn into the hills by local ethnic communities some thousands of years ago many of them are agricultural works of art on a grand scale. Forged by the necessity to produce enough rice to support the local population, the terraces are a testament to the ingenuity, toughness and determination of the Chinese who conquered the hostile geographical conditions surrounding them.
Over the years I have had the good fortune to visit many of these man-made wonders and admire their stunning beauty in different seasons.
In the winter months the terraces are filled with water and their mirror-like surfaces reflect the colour of the sky as they glisten like crystals when the sun shines over them.
Spring is planting season and the terraces come alive with bullocks and farmers in gumboots busily planting the young seedlings in the soft mud. After a few weeks the tender-green shoots poke out of the shallow water turning the surface into fuzzy scalloped tender-green carpets as far as the eye can see.
Autumn heralds the harvest and the terraces turn golden yellow. The rice sways gently in the breeze making the hills look like the back of a dragon waking gently from its slumber.
Repeat visitors have the joy to see the terraces in these different guises, but if you intend to visit China only once and want to experience these iconic landscapes, aim to visit in winter and will see them in all their magic.
“The efficient land management system of the rice terraces demonstrates extraordinary harmony between people and their environment.”