June 11, 2008

Lijiang

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:13 pm by changisme

In 1994 and 1996, there was a devastating earthquake scaled 7.7. Before that, this area was very backward but also very tranquil. The peopel here did not speak Mandarin, did not read or write and planted corn and had pigs. They were the Naxi ethnic minorities. There are four sub-ethnicities. These people were a culture of their own, because they didn’t like to communicate with the outside, unlike the Bai and Dai and Yi minorities, who were merchants and had no writing system of their own.
 
The Naxi minorities were a kingdom centuries ago. They were acknowleged by the Ming and Qing empires. Their writings looked squiglly and picture like. However, they only taught their men how to read and write them, not the girls. In addition, they were declining population, so the writing was almost lost. After the earthquake of 1994 and 1996, the government thought that tourism would be a good way to develop the erea, so many little towns were built just for the tourists to see and anthropologists unearthed the old writing and started teaching them in schools as a separate subjects, and the government started encouraging the spoken Naxi language. Now the area is quite rich, and they even have a special college now called Yunnan Cultural and Tourism College.
 
I constantly compare the feeling here with the colonial towns in Guatemala and Honduras. The two actually look surprisingly similar. The details of the architechture are different obviously, but the size of the streets, size of the town, number of hostels and bars. The only things is that those towns in Central America seemed to serve the local livelihood a little more than this town. AFterall, this whole place was reconstructed after the earthquake.  It reminds me of the earthquake in Wenchuan Sichuan just last month. Maybe they could do something similar, but they lack the Naxi (or Maya culture in the case of Central america).
 
We also walked away from the touristy city and went into a local village. That was very residential. We saw people working in the fields and the men were sitting in a circling, even a baby boy was considered a man, was being taught how to walk by the men, and the women were sitting separately. Both circles were relaxing and not in a hurry. The fields were in small plots of corn, lima beans and wheat. There was hardly anything else. The houses were mostly mud breaks and a few new ones were in gray breaks. The village was very quiet indeed.
 
We’ll go on a bus soon and leave for Shangri-la. That’s where the Tibetens mostly resides in Yunnan.
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