印象丽江：色彩斑斓 / Impression Lijiang: Extravaganza of color
Northwest Yunnan Revisited (Part Three)
Before leaving Lijiang for Shangri-la, we watched Zhang Yimou’s production of Impression Lijiang, set in an outdoor amphitheater at 3,100 meters’ (10,170 feet) elevation, with a dramatic sweep of snow-covered mountains as the backdrop to the performance. The 500-plus performers hail from virtually all the minority tribes of Yunnan, entertaining 3,000 visitors at one sitting, come rain, shine or snow. Afterwards we took the skyrail to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and hiked the forested trails there.
We also visited the home and farmland of a Naxi minority family in the La Shi Lake area outside Lijiang, who has adopted two of the initiatives which The Nature Conservancy helped the local government introduce: a simple home biogas and solar power system which uses human and animal waste to replace firewood for energy, and plastic sheet greenhouses for the cultivation of various crops. Both are very widespread in Northwest Yunnan now. The combined use of biogas and solar power has helped cut firewood consumption by up to 80%, helping stem one important driver of deforestation.
We then set off by road for Shangri-la, stopping on the way at Tiger Leaping Gorge, one of the most spectacular gorges on earth. We had followed the same road on our last visit ten years ago, so the scenery was familiar, although the number of restaurants and tour buses catering to visitors has skyrocketed. Here again I noted that tourist visitors are mainly Chinese rather than foreigners.
The drive from Tiger Leaping Gorge to Shangri-la follows a pretty little river much of the way, eventually gaining altitude before passing through a long mountain tunnel, on the other side of which the style. of homes and farmyards becomes distinctly Tibetan in style, surrounded by fields of barley and large wooden racks for drying the barley crop.
仁安藏寨的晾麦架 / Barley drying rack in the Tibetan village of Ringha
Even the pigs on the other side of the tunnel are different: Tibetan pigs are smaller in size, black in color, and allowed to graze freely rather than being kept in pens and fed by the farmers. These are truly free range pigs, and their ham is especially tasty.
The other noticeable difference on the drive along the small river this time as compared to last was the number of hydroelectric power stations along the way. The development of hydro power in Western China continues to be a complex balancing act between human progress and ecological preservation.
As we approached Shangri-la, the concentration of large wooden frame. Tibetan-style. houses grew in number. Most are surrounded by large courtyards in front, with the ground floor of the house left open for farm animals to shelter during the cold winter months while the family stays in the warmer upstairs living area. A number of houses fly flags indicating their religious affiliation, or in some cases, the red and yellow flag of the Chinese Communist Party. I was told this indicates the family has received some special economic assistance, often in connection with home improvements or renovation.
The population of Shangri-la is now about 50,000 people, of which about 90% are Tibetan. The balance is a mix of Han Chinese and other minority nationalities. As we neared the main part of town, it was again unrecognizable from the small town we’d visited slightly more than a decade before: far larger, much more spread out, with modern shopfronts and office buildings, new schools, a sports stadium, and an old town with traditional architecture clearly designed as a tourist destination.
香格里拉老城 / Shangri-la Old Town
随着旅游大潮的到来，商店、饭店和餐厅无论档次高低，生意都十分兴隆。根据我1999年的笔记，我曾在这儿发现过很多名称拼写错误的冒牌T恤衫和其他产品，比如“Girodano”（正确拼写应为“Giordano”，即“佐丹奴”——译注）、“Dadidas”（正确拼写应为“Addidas”，即“阿迪达斯”——译注），甚至还有“Chicago Butts”套头衫（正确拼写应为“Chicago Bulls”，即“芝加哥公牛”——译注）。如今，正牌“佐丹奴”已经在老城入口开起了时尚的品牌专卖店。
We were told that many people in the surrounding rural areas are still very poor, but we also met people who had come from those areas and found work in town — a small part of the historic migration underway from China’s rural to urban areas. As elsewhere in China, there were a lot more cars, trucks, and buses on the roads — sometimes competing with herds of yaks.
Retail, hotel and restaurant businesses seems to be thriving on the rising tide of tourism, including the high as well as low-end segments. Whereas in my notes from 1999 I found references to seeing lots of knock-off branded T-shirts and other gear with misspelled names like “Girodano”, “Dadidas”, and even a “Chicago Butts” jersey, now the real Giordano has its own smart looking retail shop right next to the gate of the Old City here.
We visited the Shangri-la Museum of Tibetan Medicine and heard a very interesting briefing on traditional Tibetan medicine (in fluent English) from its Director, Dr. Gesang (格桑). Later we stocked up on some medicines like Cordyceps Sinensis for our own use, as well as various medicinal herbs and edible mushrooms such as the prized “matsutaki” or “song rong”.
Our good friends from The Nature Conservancy (TNC) brought us to see China’s first national park to meet the International Union of the Conservation of Nature standards, Pudacuo National Park (普达措国家公园), which at its highest point is more than 4,000 meters (13,000 feet) above sea level. Announced in 2007 with the assistance and advice of TNC, it covers more than 1,000 sq. km (600 sq. mi) and is home to a wide variety of wildlife including black bears, black-necked cranes, lesser pandas, etc.
In fact, the park area contains some 20% of China’s native plant species, nearly 1/3 of China’s native mammal and bird species, and about 100 endangered species, in addition to being a part of the Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Area.
Pudacuo National Park is part of the overall national park strategy for China. Part of TNC’s contribution was to train park officers and rangers in various U.S. national parks. One interesting thing about Pudacuo is that it is managed by private interests, with its main revenue source being entrance tickets (which currently cost RMB190 per head). From the park’s main reception building, to the green tour buses provided for visitors, the narration provided by park guides, and the walkways and rest stations within the park, it is a very high quality operation.
Given the altitude, lots of visitors were clutching portable oxygen bottles and taking the occasional breath to cope with potential altitude sickness.
When it came time to leave, we flew from the Diqing Airport, which did not exist at the time of our last visit. It’s new, bright, clean and very efficient. From there we flew to Kunming for our connecting flights back to Hong Kong.
I brought back many positive impressions, including that of the important contribution of The Nature Conservancy in concert with various government departments and the local people, the spectacular scenery in N.W. Yunnan, the hospitality and warmth of the local people, and the delicious and healthy food we enjoyed while there.
Balancing the inextricably interwoven needs of man and nature is one of the great dilemmas that we face globally. In Northwest Yunnan we can find a host of encouraging success stories resulting from determined hard work and smart policies over the past 10-15 years, as well as a continuing series of big challenges on the road ahead.
移动技术已经深入中国农村 / Mobile telephony has arrived in rural China