Longsheng, China

Huang Luo: the Chinese Village of the Longest Hairs

hair dance
Huang Luo's women show off their long hair in a show they put on in their village.
the neighboring village
The village of Pingan, one of the most photogenic of the Longsheng rice terraces.
One of Huang Luo's women, with her long hair curled into a turban.
rice in abundance
Section of the vast rice terraces of Longsheng, in the Chinese province of Guangxi.
China, China, China
Chinese flag flies above the roof of a lookout over Longsheng.
Chillies cut into very small pieces, to later be used in traditional dishes of the region.
in the middle of the show
Another moment in Huang Luo's women with long hair spectacle.
hairy trio
Trio of women in traditional costumes with their long hair arranged on their heads.
Baby but little crybaby
A child crying at the window of a traditional Ping'an wooden house.
Corner of the vast rice terraces of Longsheng, Guang xi province.
Women sing from high windows in the room where they exhibit their show.
In a multi-ethnic region covered with terraced rice paddies, the women of Huang Luo have surrendered to the same hairy obsession. They let the longest hair in the world grow, years on end, to an average length of 170 to 200 cm. Oddly enough, to keep them beautiful and shiny, they only use water and rice.

We spent almost five hours on the small bus we had boarded at Yangshuo station. Despite being one of the unavoidable crossing points of the Chinese backpacker circuit, only two other foreigners were on board, heading for Longsheng, Huang Luo and the longest hair in the world.

Most of the time, they dozed in the back seats occupied by them alone.

We followed the twists and turns of the route: the limestone cliffs for some time after the departure. The surroundings of the typical urban chaos of Guilin, a small city in the center-south, on a Chinese scale, with its almost 5 million inhabitants.

A highway that takes us away from it towards the mountains, and then a much more winding secondary road that climbs to the north of a first slope and runs along it to the east.

The Unusual Arrival in Longsheng

More than three hundred kilometers later, the driver beckons us and the other pair of outsiders. All around, we could only see more and more slopes, converted into verdant rice terraces. Not a single town worthy of record. The driver sketched a point out of the bus and down.

We didn't understand if he simply ran with us to dispatch the freight or if he pointed us to some hidden place on the slope below the asphalt. Anyway, we went down. We crossed the road and took a look.

The village of Pingan in Longsheng, China

The village of Pingan, one of the most photogenic of the Longsheng rice terraces.

To the left, dispersed in a sunken area of ​​the slope, between terraces and cedars, was a traditional house with brown roofs, between gray and brown, the structures below, with two or three floors and balconies, all built in dark wood and bamboo. Chinese lanterns lend them some festive red and promise residents happy lives and prosperous businesses.

Ping'an, a village over six hundred years old, sits on the main ridge of the Longsheng rice terraces, a name that translates as "Dragon's Spine Column." It is, therefore, not only in the vicinity of the access road, but on the back of the great saurian.

Longsheng Rice Terraces, Guangxi, China

Section of the vast rice terraces of Longsheng, in the Chinese province of Guangxi.

And, as in the main western tourist cities, residents of several villages in Longsheng but above all in Ping'an rushed to adapt their homes or build additional ones to profit from the visitors. Small inns and rooms for rent now abound in Ping'an, for the most part listed in the usual online intermediaries.

The Terraced View of the Spine of the Dragon

We didn't head there right away. A Chinese flag, as scarlet and auspicious as lanterns, flies over an old earthen roof.

Chinese flag in Longsheng, China

Chinese flag flies above the roof of a lookout over Longsheng.

Intrigued as to what was there, light because we had brought only the essentials from Yangshuo for a day or two, we set out on a steep trail that soon widens.

After ten minutes, the trail opens up a terrace. And the terrace, an incredible view of the greenish-yellow and striped vastness all around.

Only Ping'an, Huang Luo, and the occasional village broke the homogeneity of this tortuous agricultural pattern. As only tourism had corrupted the ancestral way of life of the Chinese of Dong, Zhuang, Yao and Miao ethnicities and cultures of these places. And these are just the primordial groups.

In official terms, the authorities identify thirteen distinct indigenous groups in the region. One in particular interested us much more than the others.

If it is true that outsiders began to flock there for the beauty of the rice terraces and the pleasure of long walks, at one point a cultural eccentricity of the Yao women, in particular, began to attract as many or more visitors.

Women from Huang Luo, China

Trio of women in traditional dress with their long hair arranged on their heads

According to various sources in the Chinese press, even though the Longsheng rice terraces are just over half a millennium old, the Yao tribe will be around two thousand years old.

Now, sometime around this time, Yao women consolidated a communal belief that hair was their most sacred and valued possession, a kind of keratin amulet that supposedly guarantees them longevity, wealth, and good fortune.

The Sacred Hair of Yao Women

According to the same belief, a Yao woman's hair is cut twice in her lifetime: at one hundred days, and at eighteen, on the last of occasions, as a ritual of maturity. The cut hair is curled and kept neat. Later, it is offered to the future husband as a gift.

After marriage and childbirth, this hair is used as a curled extension of the current one. It marks the status and differentiation between a married and a single woman.

Until some time ago, with the exception of her husband and children, no one could see a woman's hair down. We are told in the village that if a man saw the hair of an unmarried woman, he would have to spend three years in that woman's family as a son-in-law. Inconvenient to say the least, this rule was abandoned in the late 80s. It won't have been the only tradition sacrificed.

The Yao tribe was already formed by around six hundred people grouped by the nearly eighty families of today. In Longsheng, they form only a small clan of the 2.6 million Yao scattered across various Chinese provinces.

Other descendants of Yao also exist in Laos, in Thailand, Vietnam and, in small numbers, post-emigrated to Canada, France and the USA

The Yao of the Longsheng region became, there, sedentary and rural. For a long time, they were considered poor by the standards of these relatively fertile parts of China.

The Biggest Hair in the World

When tourists arrived to admire the beauty of the rice terraces, they found that the Yao women had, huddled on their heads, hair much longer than that of the other tribes, the longest hair in the world.

Stretched, most of the tribe's hair measures between 170 and 200 cm. Well, this makes, overall, Huang Luo is the village with the longest hair on the face of the Earth.

Women in a show by Huang Luo, Guangxi, China

Another moment in Huang Luo's women with long hair spectacle.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xie_Qiuping

In individual terms, the longest ever recorded among the Yao measured just over two meters, even so, incomparable with the personal record of another Chinese woman. In 2004, Xie Qiuping, had a hair of 5.6 meters.

Yao women began asking for money for tourists to photograph them. First, just for the photos. Later, they started to sell them handicrafts, postcards and other goods.

Over the years and the influx of outsiders, secrets, her hair became a spectacle. Even aware of its heavy commercial load, we took advantage and assisted.

A well-attended Capillary Show

During the exhibition, women dressed in black and red make their hair swirl. They drop us and comb us.

Women with long hair from Huang Luo, Guangxi, China

Huang Luo's women show off their long hair in a show they put on in their village.

They bring them together and form choreographies with graceful movements in which they still manipulate each other's hair. Finally, they wrap them in the hair turban with which, by habit, we see them on a daily basis.

But men also participate in the exhibition. At first, only locals, therefore, tourists are invited. To both, women apply another of their peculiar Yao rites.

During a certain dance, to prove their simplicity and interest in the other, they pinch their tails. Not all foreigners would be warned. None complained.

After the show, although the visitors do not speak Chinese dialects and the natives know little or nothing of English or other languages, there is a moment of conviviality.

With tickets already paid, spectators are entitled to free photographs but only with the ladies' hair tied up.

In exchange, soon after, the Yao women inflict on them traditional embroidered costumes, suitcases, backpacks, blankets and many other of their wares.

Another theme particularly fascinates foreign visitors to Huang Luo: what do Yao women do to keep their long hair healthy and lustrous, and without white specimens until such an advanced age, in some cases, up to 80 years old?

The secret is in the extraordinary scenery around, in what has been feeding them for millennia and which for millennia they have used to nourish their hair: rice.

Neither shampoos nor conditioners. rice only

For an eternity, fermented water after washing rice has been used in the East by both country women and empresses to achieve exemplary hair. With so much rice around, for the Yao women, maintaining this belief and custom was not a whim, it was practically a lack of alternatives.

Matriarch of Huang Luo, Guangxi, China

One of Huang Luo's women, with her long hair curled into a turban.

Isolated from cities by mountains and valleys and by mere distance, the penetration of shampoos and even modern soaps would have been a phenomenon very late in the XNUMXth century. At the same time, if rice water guaranteed immaculate hair with the added vigor of a tradition, why not use rice?

These days, the women gather in the river that runs through the village and often wash their hair communally. Mix glutinous rice with water and gently rinse the hair until it feels gelatinous. From time to time, they supplement this wash with special “treatments” with fermented rice water.

A study carried out in the 80s in Japan – where women's hair will be similar – concluded that “rice water decreases friction on the capillary surface and improves elasticity”.

Even Hair Experts Praise Huang Luo

Margaret Trey, a health, beauty and wellness expert at the newspaper “The Epoch Times” emphasizes that “slightly bitter, rice water is rich in antioxidants, minerals, vitamin E and another substance that only rice fermentation produces.

This combination does more than bring shine to hair. Makes them smoother, stronger and overall healthier.

Believe it or not, Huang Luo has been appearing for some time on several pages and blogs specializing in beauty advice with images of the village, the women and, of course, their prodigious hair.

If they are better informed about the world of advertising, the hair of Yao women could earn them much more than the entrances of tourists to daily shows, sales of their handicrafts and postcards.

The issue is that the big beauty brands want to continue to sell their shampoos, conditioners and silicones, not risk that Western women start substituting them for some homemade rice water.

Dali, China

The Surrealist China of Dali

Embedded in a magical lakeside setting, the ancient capital of the Bai people has remained, until some time ago, a refuge for the backpacker community of travelers. The social and economic changes of China they fomented the invasion of Chinese to discover the southwest corner of the nation.
Bingling Yes, China

The Canyon of a Thousand Buddhas

For more than a millennium and at least seven dynasties, Chinese devotees have extolled their religious belief with the legacy of sculpture in a remote strait of the Yellow River. If you disembark in the Canyon of Thousand Buddhas, you may not find all the sculptures, but you will find a stunning Buddhist shrine.
Dunhuang, China

An Oasis in the China of the Sands

Thousands of kilometers west of Beijing, the Great Wall has its western end and the China and other. An unexpected splash of vegetable green breaks up the arid expanse all around. Announces Dunhuang, formerly crucial outpost on the Silk Road, today an intriguing city at the base of Asia's largest sand dunes.
Lijiang, China

A Gray City but Little

Seen from afar, its vast houses are dreary, but Lijiang's centuries-old sidewalks and canals are more folkloric than ever. This city once shone as the grandiose capital of the Naxi people. Today, floods of Chinese visitors who fight for the quasi-theme park it have become take it by storm.
Lijiang e Yangshuo, China

An Impressive China

One of the most respected Asian filmmakers, Zhang Yimou dedicated himself to large outdoor productions and co-authored the media ceremonies of the Beijing OG. But Yimou is also responsible for “Impressions”, a series of no less controversial stagings with stages in emblematic places.
Lhasa, Tibet

The Sino-Demolition of the Roof of the World

Any debate about sovereignty is incidental and a waste of time. Anyone who wants to be dazzled by the purity, affability and exoticism of Tibetan culture should visit the territory as soon as possible. The Han civilizational greed that moves China will soon bury millenary Tibet.
Dali, China

Chinese Style Flash Mob

The time is set and the place is known. When the music starts playing, a crowd follows the choreography harmoniously until time runs out and everyone returns to their lives.
Viti levu, Fiji

Cannibalism and Hair, Fiji Islands' Old Pastimes

For 2500 years, anthropophagy has been part of everyday life in Fiji. In more recent centuries, the practice has been adorned by a fascinating hair cult. Luckily, only vestiges of the latest fashion remain.
Huang Shan, China

Huang Shan: The Yellow Mountains of the Floating Peaks

The granitic peaks of the floating yellow mountains of Huang Shan, from which acrobat pines sprout, appear in artistic illustrations from China without count. The real scenery, in addition to being remote, remains hidden above the clouds for over 200 days.
Beijing, China

The Heart of the Great Dragon

It is the incoherent historic center of Maoist-Communist ideology and almost all Chinese aspire to visit it, but Tianamen Square will always be remembered as a macabre epitaph of the nation's aspirations.
Badaling, China

The Sino Invasion of the Great Wall of China

With the arrival of the hot days, hordes of Han visitors take over the Great Wall of China, the largest man-made structure. They go back to the era of imperial dynasties and celebrate the nation's newfound prominence.
Tokyo, Japan

Japanese Style Passaport-Type Photography

In the late 80s, two Japanese multinationals already saw conventional photo booths as museum pieces. They turned them into revolutionary machines and Japan surrendered to the Purikura phenomenon.
Jabula Beach, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa
Saint Lucia, South Africa

An Africa as Wild as Zulu

On the eminence of the coast of Mozambique, the province of KwaZulu-Natal is home to an unexpected South Africa. Deserted beaches full of dunes, vast estuarine swamps and hills covered with fog fill this wild land also bathed by the Indian Ocean. It is shared by the subjects of the always proud Zulu nation and one of the most prolific and diverse fauna on the African continent.
Faithful light candles, Milarepa Grotto temple, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit: 9th Manang to Milarepa Cave, Nepal

A Walk between Acclimatization and Pilgrimage

In full Annapurna Circuit, we finally arrived in Manang (3519m). we still need acclimatize to the higher stretches that followed, we inaugurated an equally spiritual journey to a Nepalese cave of Milarepa (4000m), the refuge of a siddha (sage) and Buddhist saint.
Luderitz, Namibia
Architecture & Design
Lüderitz, Namibia

Wilkommen in Africa

Chancellor Bismarck has always disdained overseas possessions. Against his will and all odds, in the middle of the Race for Africa, merchant Adolf Lüderitz forced Germany to take over an inhospitable corner of the continent. The homonymous city prospered and preserves one of the most eccentric heritages of the Germanic empire.
Salto Angel, Rio that falls from the sky, Angel Falls, PN Canaima, Venezuela
PN Canaima, Venezuela

Kerepakupai, Salto Angel: The River that Falls from Heaven

In 1937, Jimmy Angel landed a light aircraft on a plateau lost in the Venezuelan jungle. The American adventurer did not find gold but he conquered the baptism of the longest waterfall on the face of the Earth
Conflicted Way
Ceremonies and Festivities
Jerusalem, Israel

Through the Belicious Streets of Via Dolorosa

In Jerusalem, while traveling the Via Dolorosa, the most sensitive believers realize how difficult the peace of the Lord is to achieve in the most disputed streets on the face of the earth.
, Mexico, city of silver and gold, homes over tunnels
Guanajuato, Mexico

The City that Shines in All Colors

During the XNUMXth century, it was the city that produced the most silver in the world and one of the most opulent in Mexico and colonial Spain. Several of its mines are still active, but the impressive wealth of Guanuajuato lies in the multicolored eccentricity of its history and secular heritage.
Margilan, Uzbekistan

An Uzbekistan's Breadwinner

In one of the many bakeries in Margilan, worn out by the intense heat of the tandyr oven, the baker Maruf'Jon works half-baked like the distinctive traditional breads sold throughout Uzbekistan
Okinawa, Japan

Ryukyu Dances: Centuries old. In No Hurry.

The Ryukyu kingdom prospered until the XNUMXth century as a trading post for the China and Japan. From the cultural aesthetics developed by its courtly aristocracy, several styles of slow dance were counted.
Reindeer Racing, Kings Cup, Inari, Finland
Inari, Finland

The Wackiest Race on the Top of the World

Finland's Lapps have been competing in the tow of their reindeer for centuries. In the final of the Kings Cup - Porokuninkuusajot - , they face each other at great speed, well above the Arctic Circle and well below zero.
Entrance porch in Ellikkalla, Uzbekistan

Journey through the Uzbekistan Pseudo-Roads

Centuries passed. Old and run-down Soviet roads ply deserts and oases once traversed by caravans from the Silk RoadSubject to their yoke for a week, we experience every stop and incursion into Uzbek places, into scenic and historic road rewards.
Martian Scenery of the White Desert, Egypt
White Desert, Egypt

The Egyptian Shortcut to Mars

At a time when conquering the solar system's neighbor has become an obsession, an eastern section of the Sahara Desert is home to a vast related landscape. Instead of the estimated 150 to 300 days to reach Mars, we took off from Cairo and, in just over three hours, we took our first steps into the Oasis of Bahariya. All around, almost everything makes us feel about the longed-for Red Planet.
Rainbow in the Grand Canyon, an example of prodigious photographic light
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Natural Light (Part 1)

And Light was made on Earth. Know how to use it.

The theme of light in photography is inexhaustible. In this article, we give you some basic notions about your behavior, to start with, just and only in terms of geolocation, the time of day and the time of year.
Puerto Rico, San Juan, walled city, panoramic
San Juan, Puerto Rico

The Highly Walled Puerto Rico of San Juan Bautista

San Juan is the second oldest colonial city in the Americas, after the Dominican neighbor of Santo Domingo. A pioneering emporium and stop over on the route that took gold and silver from the New World to Spain, it was attacked again and again. Its incredible fortifications still protect one of the most lively and prodigious capitals in the Caribbean.
Mexcaltitán, Nayarit, Mexico, from the air
Mexcaltitan, Nayarit, Mexico

An Island Between Myth and Mexican Genesis

Mexcaltitán is a rounded lake island, full of houses and which, during the rainy season, is only passable by boat. It is still believed that it could be Aztlán. The village that the Aztecs left in a wandering that ended with the foundation of Tenochtitlan, the capital of the empire that the Spanish would conquer.
Geothermal, Iceland Heat, Ice Land, Geothermal, Blue Lagoon
Winter White

The Geothermal Coziness of the Ice Island

Most visitors value Iceland's volcanic scenery for its beauty. Icelanders also draw from them heat and energy crucial to the life they lead to the Arctic gates.
On the Crime and Punishment trail, St. Petersburg, Russia, Vladimirskaya
Saint Petersburg, Russia

On the Trail of "Crime and Punishment"

In St. Petersburg, we cannot resist investigating the inspiration for the base characters in Fyodor Dostoevsky's most famous novel: his own pities and the miseries of certain fellow citizens.
Mangrove between Ibo and Quirimba Island-Mozambique
Ibo Island a Quirimba IslandMozambique

Ibo to Quirimba with the Tide

For centuries, the natives have traveled in and out of the mangrove between the island of Ibo and Quirimba, in the time that the overwhelming return trip from the Indian Ocean grants them. Discovering the region, intrigued by the eccentricity of the route, we follow its amphibious steps.
Sheki, Autumn in the Caucasus, Azerbaijan, Autumn Homes
Sheki, Azerbaijan

autumn in the caucasus

Lost among the snowy mountains that separate Europe from Asia, Sheki is one of Azerbaijan's most iconic towns. Its largely silky history includes periods of great harshness. When we visited it, autumn pastels added color to a peculiar post-Soviet and Muslim life.
El Tatio Geisers, Atacama, Chile, Between ice and heat
Natural Parks
El Tatio, Chile

El Tatio Geysers – Between the Ice and the Heat of the Atacama

Surrounded by supreme volcanoes, the geothermal field of El Tatio, in the Atacama Desert it appears as a Dantesque mirage of sulfur and steam at an icy 4200 m altitude. Its geysers and fumaroles attract hordes of travelers.
Mother Armenia Statue, Yerevan, Armenia
UNESCO World Heritage
Yerevan, Armenia

A Capital between East and West

Heiress of the Soviet civilization, aligned with the great Russia, Armenia allows itself to be seduced by the most democratic and sophisticated ways of Western Europe. In recent times, the two worlds have collided in the streets of your capital. From popular and political dispute, Yerevan will dictate the new course of the nation.
Couple visiting Mikhaylovskoe, village where writer Alexander Pushkin had a home
Saint Petersburg e Mikhaylovkoe, Russia

The Writer Who Succumbed to His Own Plot

Alexander Pushkin is hailed by many as the greatest Russian poet and the founder of modern Russian literature. But Pushkin also dictated an almost tragicomic epilogue to his prolific life.
Montezuma and Malpais, Costa Rica's best beaches, Catarata
Montezuma, Costa Rica

Back to the Tropical Arms of Montezuma

It's been 18 years since we were dazzled by this one of Costa Rica's blessed coastlines. Just two months ago, we found him again. As cozy as we had known it.
Passage, Tanna, Vanuatu to the West, Meet the Natives
Tanna, Vanuatu

From where Vanuatu Conquered the Western World

The TV show “Meet the Native” took Tanna's tribal representatives to visit Britain and the USA Visiting their island, we realized why nothing excited them more than returning home.
Train Fianarantsoa to Manakara, Malagasy TGV, locomotive
On Rails
Fianarantsoa-Manakara, Madagascar

On board the Malagasy TGV

We depart Fianarantsoa at 7a.m. It wasn't until 3am the following morning that we completed the 170km to Manakara. The natives call this almost secular train Train Great Vibrations. During the long journey, we felt, very strongly, those of the heart of Madagascar.
A kind of portal
Little Havana, USA

Little Havana of the Nonconformists

Over the decades and until today, thousands of Cubans have crossed the Florida Straits in search of the land of freedom and opportunity. With the US a mere 145 km away, many have gone no further. His Little Havana in Miami is today the most emblematic neighborhood of the Cuban diaspora.
Busy intersection of Tokyo, Japan
Daily life
Tokyo, Japan

The Endless Night of the Rising Sun Capital

Say that Tokyo do not sleep is an understatement. In one of the largest and most sophisticated cities on the face of the Earth, twilight marks only the renewal of the frenetic daily life. And there are millions of souls that either find no place in the sun, or make more sense in the “dark” and obscure turns that follow.
Lake Manyara, National Park, Ernest Hemingway, Giraffes
Lake Manyara NP, Tanzania

Hemingway's Favorite Africa

Situated on the western edge of the Rift Valley, Lake Manyara National Park is one of the smallest but charming and richest in Europe. wild life of Tanzania. In 1933, between hunting and literary discussions, Ernest Hemingway dedicated a month of his troubled life to him. He narrated those adventurous safari days in “The Green Hills of Africa".
Passengers, scenic flights-Southern Alps, New Zealand
Scenic Flights
Aoraki / Mount Cook, New Zealand

The Aeronautical Conquest of the Southern Alps

In 1955, pilot Harry Wigley created a system for taking off and landing on asphalt or snow. Since then, his company has unveiled, from the air, some of the greatest scenery in Oceania.