Fermented Rice – the new shampoo
Today is all about Rice, where it grows on the amazing Longji Terraces, another Lonely Planet's top 500 recommended places to visit in the world, but also using rice, specifically fermented rice to wash your hair in. The results are incredible.
I read an online Marie Claire article about Shampoos that Will Make Your Hair Grow. The 14 shampoos listed contained extracts from algae, biotin, keratin proteins and argan oil but they are all missing one key ingredient – fermented rice.
And the proof is in the pudding. Today we visited Huangluo, which is renowned for the Yao women that have spectacularly long hair, with the average at 1.7m in length and a few at over 2 m!
These women only cut their hair once when they are 18. This is part of their coming of age ceremony demonstrating they are ready for marriage. They wrap their cut locks into their growing hair, covering this all in a black scarf. They believe that washing their beautiful long hair in leftover fermented rice water keeps the colour, makes the hair healthy and gives them a long life. If you are interested, I found an article on how to make fermented rice juice to wash your hair.
The women used to wash their hair near the river, but due to the attention of many tourists, they now do this in private and have taken advantage of the interest by running a continuous looped daily show and charge 80 yuan per person (nearly £9), and the room was heaving!
Many of the women in the show had such a cheeky attitude. On stage, they were swinging their hips, pinching guests’ bottoms and dancing with such a spring in their step.
Most of the women have their hair wrapped skillfully around their heads like a turban. Near the end of the show, this was unwrapped for us all to admire the mighty length, then adeptly wound back around their heads, with some adding their 18-year-old long ponytail to bulk the already thick mane up.
Our journey continued, sitting in the back of a very uncomfortable minibus, with the driver often on his phone and then smoking as soon as he was out of his cab.
We drove up to Dazhai Rice Terraces, in the Longji region, otherwise known as the Dragon’s Backbone, as the summit of the mountain range is supposed to resemble the backbone of the dragon, and the coiled terraces are its scales. Many of these terraces were built during the Yuan and Qing Dynasties and continued for 650 years until the early 1900s. The Dazhai village is made up of 294 Yao families, not that we saw many, they were all tucked up in the warmth of their wooden houses.
We took the cable car to the top of the mountain with much of the ride in thick cloud. Despite this, it added to the magical feel of the place, and even more exciting when we spotted a fabulous view of these narrow rice beds neatly climbing the side of the deep valley.
At the summit, line of stalls were selling combs and other trinkets made from horns, silverware and tradition costumes for hire. We did see one lady proudly wearing one of these having her photo taken against the cloud.
We walked down the many steep steps and winding pathways next to the cascading rice terraces. We wobbled over a few rickety planks of wood, bridging streams. We stood in awe of the incredible panoramic views over the valley encircling the village. And we had the place near enough to ourselves. I can imagine that this is an astonishing area whatever time of year, be its snow-covered mountains, fertile, lush green paddies or even the thick cake of mud covering the terraces with well-ordered and nicely spaced out sprouts of cut rice as is now.
It was not the best of weather, damp and cold, plus a very long drive to get here and back to the city. Was it worth it? With views like these – what do you think?
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