I slept really well so I was ready for sightseeing this morning. By midday I was feeling exhausted again, but my guide reminded me that we are at about 2000m altitude. Maybe that is why I feel a bit weird. We started by visiting the ethnic minorities park. The familiar sensation of conflicting emotions and being pulled in opposite directions set in. On the one hand, we effectively have a human zoo for tourists to gawp at minorities dressed in their traditional costumes, performing their traditional dances and selling their traditional handicrafts. On the other hand, we have a celebration of cultural diversity and a recognition of the value of preventing these minorities from being obliterated in China’s race for economic success. I suppose for many tourists it also saves the hassle of touring round this vast country to see these peoples in situ. In a couple of hours I visited Mongolia, Tibet and a number of other far flung provinces.
More interesting was the Yunnan Nationalities museum, which had artefacts from all the minority peoples including samples of their calligraphy, painting, ceramics, costume, jewellery and day to day tools. Both the museum and the park present a rosy and harmonious view of the minority peoples and one can easily forget that a visit to the actual Tibet, say, would leave a different impression.
I’ll let you write your own caption for this:
We stopped for lunch at some street stalls in the city centre, where we had delicious noodles and dumplings, washed down with freshly pressed fruit juice. The dumplings resemble tiny Cornish Pasties, but are deep fried rather than baked. I told my guide that when he visits England the ubiquitous pasty will make him feel at home! Later we went to the flower market – Yunnan’s climate is well suited to horticulture and a dazzling display was on view. Chinese taste is a little different to ours – I have never seen roses dyed sparkly royal blue, for instance. Or flower arrangements made with cuddly bunnies.