Thursday, February 27, 2014

Xi (西) Shuang (双) Ban (版) Na (纳)

I was in Xishuangbanna for four days last week with my program. Xishuangbanna is in the way south of Yunnan and borders Thailand and Laos. Predominately Dai people live in the area, who are closely related to the Thai people. Their language is very similar and Dai and Thai actually go back to the same origins. 
The first two days we spend in a village that was bought up by a travel organization and was made into a sort of live-museum for the Dai culture. My heart cinched when I first heard that, because on my first ever trip to Asia I went with an organization that basically talked the entire time of the trip about how bad these places are. 
It wasn't however as bad as I expected and when talking to the locals they actually seemed to like the changes, because they don't have to do back breaking work on the fields anymore, but can now sell (delicious) fruit to the tourists. Each family gets 4000 kuai ( around 800 USD) per year. One can argue for hours about whether this is good or bad, but the people seemed not too unhappy. 
There is a ton of handicraft and one old monk still engraves palm leaves with buddhist prayers. It really is not as bad as Lijiang or Shangri-La, but we also went during the low season and had the entire village to ourselves. 
After that we went to a tiiiiiiiiny village high up on a mountain peak 2 hours away from the nearest bigger city. We stayed there for another two days getting to know the village people, who were Hani. They were so incredibly polite and open and loved to drink their local liquor. As a German I see myself having a high tolerance, but after three glasses I was well beyond a comfortable level of tipsy. One always forgets how strong the local and home-brewed liquor is. 
They also loved to dance and sing and preformed for us these amazing dances. We also had to dance and showed them the best of the western culture. We were terrible compared to them, but it was funny to dance and sing to twist & shout, sweet caroline and buttercup in the middle of nowhere in Yunnan. 
It was overall amazing and I will share some pictures with you: 

Amazing Handicraft

At the Buddhist Temple after Meditation

An ax has always been the best way to safe people from a sinking ship

Ani-Village deep in the mountains of Xishuangbanna

Picking tea

The amazing food they prepared for us

Rubber Tree

The Fruit was so good and so cheap. I ate way too much. 

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