Tibet Silver Heavy

November 26, 2005 by  
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Yunnan Province

But while the north-east China, like Beijing and Shandong may represent the center of the People's Republic is in the west, where we found a unique cultural diversity that is so attractive to passengers.

Nowhere in the country can find a splendid variety minority population of China as "South of the Clouds, Yunnan. Located in the southwest of four other provinces, Yunnan also shares common borders with three countries (which are not too including Thailand and India), resulting from its proximity to the largest concentration of ethnic groups throughout China.

However, with the northern city of Lijiang Naxi were destined for China's hottest holiday for groups of tourists near retirement comfortable for young backpackers Zhongdian Dali and a point of departure for Tibet, in southern Yunnan remains a relatively preserved.

In the jungle concrete of the provincial capital of Kunming City in tropical forests of Xishuangbanna, the writer does not mention the most popular way to Laos and Vietnam in the least explored areas around the perimeter of Burma. My timing was perfect, arriving in the village just before Menghun Sunday market.

A quiet community, complete with raised wooden houses and a hill overlooking the surrounding rice fields monastery, time of day rain helped improve the reluctance of the village. But thanks to the gray color that I met in the area revealed multi-ethnic market thselves midmorning minorities.By Menghun relatively low, head full of freshly slaughtered pork, fruits and vegetables bright snuff rainbowof caps and textiles, has become a kaleidoscope of culture unlike any I've seen everything. I met for the glory majority population silky Xishuangbanna, Dai, a culture of 2,000 years of age, which mixes elements Hinayana Buddhism in Thailand. The dress in plain clothes attractive Dai, but Dai is the younger girls in their sarongs formfitting pastel drawing attention to a joke before runing as nymphs.

Besides illuminating contrast black day were the Akha, known as Hani. As a jungle bird bright elusive, the Akha are the luxuriant depth to which only market day, which are decorated in thick layers of shiny black embossed embroidery patterns complicated. The descendants of Tibetan nomads Qiang, each subgroup Hani headgear use different colors to indicate their tribe, like the plumage of a bird proud customize bracelets and richly decorated with silver leggings, handbags and antiques patchwork stretching their ears. Backstrap baskets around the head and teeth stained red with betel nuts are common.

Especially tired of foreigners who timidly skirts all my progress, however, the persistence of friendship with a sincere interest in their lifestyle suddenly I have access to an Akha clan welded. They spoke very little Mandarin, and of course not English, so they simply relied on gestures and smiles, in an attempt to learn from each other.

At noon, the market had cleared with the rain, the streets, now filled with knots of Aboriginal people living in the hope of tractors back to their villages nearby.

My journey continued with the Xishuangbanna Autonomous Prefecture take me more in the surrounding forest, including a trek of 50 km to Bulongshan Damenglong. But are stories for another time. For now I'll remember this little town Menghun colorful but, as in any other I've never seen a representation fairly definitive ethnic minorities in China proud.

Tom Carter, a freelance writer and photographer from San Francisco, has lived in China during the last two years. Currently, backpacking through 32 provinces in China.


1) From the bus station in Kunming, Beijing Lu, Leeper express bus in Jinghong, capital of Xinshuangbanna every day at 6:30 pm (150yuan, 15 hours).

2) The bus from Jinghong Menghun to leave the bus station No. 2 every 20 minutes 7:00 to 6:00 p.m. (15yuan, 2:00).


In Mengun there are several small guesthouses, Lugu, located on the main street near the bus stop (20 yuan). Favorites Backpackers Fandian is Baita (White Tower Hotel, 10 Yua for a bed) at the periphery the city and overlooking a lily team with fish and frogs. Instructions are complicated by what is best to ask people to note that

Regional Cuisine

Rice is the staple food of the Dai people, were the first in the history of the world for the cultivation of rice as food. Sticky Rice cooked in bamboo fragrance is a specialty. Local Xishuangbanna also enjoy snacks in the flex cable to the grid of street vendors, and perpetually betel nut chewing (binglang) mixed with lime, which gives a narcotic effect, while staining red mouth.

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About the Author

TOM CARTER is the author of CHINA: Portrait of a People, a definitive 600-page book of photography due out winter 2007 from Hong Kong publisher Blacksmith Books.


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