- Well, I have an internet connection today. We've had a somewhat busy
- last few days. Last night we actually stayed in our guide's village at
- her family home. She introduced us to her parents. They were born in
- the mid 1950s so both of them were teenagers during the Cultural
- Revolution. Having lived through that they became adults and spent
- most of their lives during the Reform Period, a sharp contrast to
- Socialist China. It was interesting to think about their lives with
- them having born witness to some of the most drastic changes in
- China's history.
- Yesterday we left Shaxi and spent a long stretch of our road time next
- to the Yangtze river. It was market day for the local villages, so we
- checked out one of the larger ones on the way but it wasn't that busy.
- We think it's due to the fact that most farmers are tending to their
- crops right now and don't have much to sell.
- Last night we took a long winding drive up to an ethnic Yi people
- village. They are primarily hill people, and retain their own
- traditions (such as ritual tattoos) despite being surrounded by the
- lowland Naxi. As an ethnic group they're incredibly poor for the most
- part. Their villages in the mountains has kept them isolated for most
- of their history and the occasional difficulties that arise in raising
- crops so high up has generally made them less prosperous than their
- Naxi neighbors. Due to their poverty, the Yi have struggled with
- education and with alcohol/drug addiction. However, the government has
- redoubled its efforts in aiding these tribes. The village we visited
- has had electricity for about 10 years now and their children receive
- subsidies for school fees toup to middle school. Medical care has also
- increased as the lower villages have developed.
- I learned what I know about this village from an interview we had with
- a Yi family in their home. There was an interesting point when one of
- the older women remarked about our status as students, inferring by
- our clothing and the fact that we were there studying her home that we
- must be wealthy and lead "comfortable lives". It was an interesting
- moment of self-reflection. For these people, the things I have access
- to must seem unimaginably wealthy. College education, fresh food any
- time of the year from a supermarket, access to new clothing, travel,
- leisure... All of these things are mundane to most Americans and
- Europeans, and yet only pieces of these things are within reach for
- these peoples. I came to this country being prepared for what I'd see,
- but confronting something you've only read about gives you a different
- knowledge than what you had learned before.
- Today we visited a Tibetan Buddhist temple. We rented bikes and
- travelled there by dirt road. I tried Yak-Butter tea for the first
- time at their monastery (tastes like popcorn). Over the next few days
- we'll be continuing our travel along the Tea Horse road as we hike
- through the beginnings of the Himalaya. We'll be climbing Jade Dragon
- Snow Mountain and visiting the villages that are located along the
- ancient road. We'll be beginning our mountain travel after a day in
- Lijiang tomorrow.
Day 8: Shuhe
a guest Jul 8th, 2012 22 Never
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