Tag Archives: China

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沙溪古镇:希望你永远不为“游客”所知

感谢瑞士人Jacques Feiner,美国人Chris Barclay,中国建筑师Huang Yinwu,以及World Monuments Fund,和当地政府等个人和组织的努力,沙溪古镇得以忠实地按照原样修复。希望她永远不为游客所知,不要成为下一个丽江。

下面的文字和图片来自纽约时报。

An Ancient Caravan Town in China Is Reborn

By EDWARD WONG, MARCH 27, 2016

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SHAXI, China — The woman shuffled around her shop in the village square, telling visitors how she came to be selling wooden swords and woven slippers to tourists rather than tending to her fields.

He Yuqing, 60, wore a blue tunic and apron, common among older ethnic Bai women of this verdant valley in the Himalayan foothills. In the plaza outside, afternoon sunlight fell across cobblestones on which horse caravans once trod.

She said she had been renting the shop from the local government for eight years. If an international architecture team had not restored the square’s ramshackle wooden buildings, she said, she would be doing hard labor among her fields of corn, fruit and grains.

“Before they restored this, it just wasn’t as beautiful,” she said. “They did a good job.”

In a project little known outside China, a Swiss-led team worked for years to renovate the square of Sideng Village. The square was the site of the main market in Shaxi, a valley dotted with Bai villages in the Hengduan Mountains of southwest China.

The renovators aimed to remake Sideng’s former marketplace to be fully consistent with historical design and artwork, a commitment rare in China. They say the project could be a model for other village renovation efforts in the country. It has been praised by Unesco, the United Nations cultural agency.

The restored buildings include a centuries-old Buddhist temple that had been converted to government offices after the Communists took over China in 1949. Facing the temple is a four-story theater with soaring eaves and an outdoor performance terrace for local orchestras. Every June, valley residents converge on the plaza to hold the Torch Festival, in which they erect and light on fire a towering pine trunk.

The village square is now considered by some to be one of the most beautiful in China. It evokes the era when the Tea and Horse Caravan Trailpassed through the valley. This part of Yunnan Province lies east of theTibetan plateau, and Tibetans traded horses for tea that was then transported across the plateau, all the way to Lhasa.

Yet, Shaxi remains free of the tourist hordes that swarm the streets of Lijiang, a drive of just a couple of hours to the north, and Dali, a couple of hours to the south. They, too, have renovated ancient town centers, but the new homes and storefronts there were built haphazardly.

“When the Chinese do this, they think, ‘How can I attract as many people as possible to this place?’” said Chris Barclay, the American owner of a boutique guesthouse, the Old Theatre Inn, in the countryside outside the Sideng square. “None of that has happened here, which is great.”

Mr. Barclay and his wife have been using their own money to renovate thePear Orchard Temple, mainly in thanks to the fertility aspect of the goddess Guanyin there. His Thai wife, a Buddhist, became pregnant at age 45 after praying to Guanyin on a visit; their first child had died years earlier.

Mr. Barclay said he had also been inspired by the marketplace work done in Sideng.

That project began with Jacques Feiner, a Swiss conservation expert who had worked on the old city in Sana, Yemen. Around 2000, he was looking for a project along the South Silk Road and settled on the Shaxi Valley because the scale of the Sideng marketplace was manageable, said Huang Yinwu, a team leader and Swiss-trained architect.

At Mr. Feiner’s urging, the World Monuments Fund, based in New York, added the marketplace to its 2002 watch list of 100 Most Endangered Sites. The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and the government of Jianchuan County put together a conservation team.

Mr. Huang, originally from Hubei Province, joined the team and came to Shaxi in 2003. The team had an advantage doing conservation here: The local Bai carpenters are considered among the most skilled in China and get commissions across the country.

“In this process, the main purpose was to understand the local tradition, the local knowledge, the local craftsmanship,” Mr. Huang said. “We wanted to see how far we could go with the local knowledge.”

The team restored low-slung wooden facades around the old marketplace and a 100-year-old caravansary. Most of the plaza’s buildings are just a century old because they have been repeatedly rebuilt — bandits burned down the buildings in constant raids.

When the project began, most of the buildings had been abandoned. In 2006, the buds of commerce appeared. A couple from faraway Shenzhen asked to rent one of the smaller buildings near the theater; they wanted to live there and turn it into a cafe.

Mr. Huang said this went against his idea for the plaza — he had intended for the fronts to be shops and the interiors to be courtyards open to the public.

“I didn’t agree to that,” he said with a laugh as he sat in the square one recent morning, pointing to the Old Tree Cafe run by the couple. “The government wanted them to move in, so they started living there and running the business there.”

The Xingjiao Temple took four years to refurbish. A fierce blue guardian deity and a red one flank the main entrance. The Bai here worship local gods and practice Esoteric Buddhism.

“Having the temple and theater together facing each other is a local custom,” Mr. Huang said. “The locals think the Buddha should enjoy the performances along with the people. I’m working on another temple in Shaxi where there is a stage in the main temple area. You move a wooden god to face the stage.”

That temple, Chenghuang, is part of the next phase of the renovation project, as envisioned by Mr. Huang: founding community centers across Shaxi to help residents tap into the tourist economy.

Mr. Huang, who still lives in Shaxi even though his Swiss teammates have left, said the first such center would be at Chenghuang Temple. His plans call for the centers to have computers where villagers can go online; tourists following cycling and walking routes through the valley would mingle with the villagers at those centers.

Thirteen villages would be part of this network, and residents might start homegrown industries like craft beer to appeal to the tourist crowds, he said.

“We can have Internet-based education,” he said. “This is a way to help people to understand more and get the capability to develop things on their own.”

Guesthouses and cafes have boomed in Sideng Village, but they are mostly run by outsider Chinese rather than locals.

The Shaxi Horse Pen 46 Youth Hostel next to the central theater was opened in 2010 by Huo Wanfei, 36, who moved here from Sichuan Province after visiting as a backpacker. Now that the Swiss-led team is done with the plaza, these Chinese outsiders are the main force behind renovating buildings, mostly to start tourist businesses.

Ms. Huo said she had employed local carpenters and completed the renovation after much trial and error.

“It made me realize there’s a way in nature that makes things work out,” she said.

The evolution of the village is beginning to mirror what happened in Lijiang. The locals are renting out their homes to outsiders and moving elsewhere. So visitors to Sideng increasingly meet Chinese outsiders and not Bai locals like Ms. He.

“The market is driving Shaxi in this direction,” Mr. Huang said. “This is not something in our control. That is why I’m doing this new project to encourage a community economy.”

A Western Perspective of China (一个西方视角里的中国)(Forwarded;转贴)

This is a new blog post from eCommerceFuel, written by Andrew Youderian. It’s so interesting that I couldn’t help sharing it with my blog visitors. — Andy


 

The countryside screamed past at 200mph as I worked on my laptop, comfortable inside the train’s first class cabin. Outside, weathered farmers worked fields by hand as women walked by carrying baskets.

The only evidence that it was 2015 vs. 1315 was the occasional worn-down tractor and the power lines that crossed the landscape. And, of course, the gleaming 21st century bullet train I rode in.

As we neared the outskirts of Wuhan, cluster upon cluster of soviet style high rises rose against a dreary sky thick with smog. Despite having never been to mainland China before, I felt a sense of déjà vu: the stark contrast between old and new, rich and poor, viewed from our high-tech train eerily felt like a scene right out of The Hunger Games.

With its sheer number of people, China reminds me of a much cleaner version of India, but it’s there that the similarities stop. I was bombarded by street smells which I’d love to describe, but can’t because I’ve never experienced them before. I could walk blocks in a market without recognizing a single food item.

However it wasn’t the smells, crowds, food or the lost-in-time countryside that stood out most starkly. Despite being warned, I wasn’t prepared for the often brusque nature of Chinese interactions.

Stuck on a bus where we hadn’t moved for close to 5 minutes, a passenger approached the driver. She wanted to get off and walk, but the bus driver wouldn’t let her – there was a police officer right ahead and he didn’t want a ticket. After a few more minutes, she came up to ask again, but in a much louder and agitated tone.

After another denial, the bus exploded to life: a chorus of previously uninvolved people started shouting, most in defense of the driver. Things grew, to my Western instincts, fairly heated with the bus driver yelling back at the girl. The confrontation continued until he relented, opening the door to let a stream of people pour out of the bus.

In most Western cities, a scene like this would leave bystanders somewhat shocked and exchanging looks with each other. But within seconds, everyone returned to what they had been doing seemingly unfazed.

Surprising incidents like this were, if anything, entertaining to watch. It was the Chinese mores of “please” and “thank you” that were the most difficult for me to adapt to. The difference? The pleasantries just aren’t used much.

It’s especially tricky with those closest to you with rationale that goes something like this: My Chinese family members and friends know I love them and they’ll assume by default I’m thankful. By vocalizing it, I’m putting into question our closeness and bond.

Despite knowing how my frequent “thank yous” came across, I just couldn’t help myself and still said it constantly. Normally it wasn’t an issue, but after thanking friends who treated us to one meal I felt a bit of awkwardness in the air and wished I kept my mouth closed.

You hear about the internet being censored in China, but it’s a surprisingly surreal experience to be blocked from Google the first time you get online. Nearly 3,000 sites are blocked altogether, and everything else you download is censored on the fly as you browse.

The Chinese government is often criticized for many things from censorship to human rights, leaving it with a less-than-stellar public image in the West. So I was surprised when I saw a myriad of things being done by Big Brother to improve life and move the country forward.

Street trash was minimal as the government pays an army of workers to keep things tidy. Cell coverage was maintained throughout my entire underground ride in the government built subway. And the high-speed train infrastructure made getting around China fast, comfortable and affordable in a way I haven’t experienced back in the states.

Business moves forward at a blisteringly fast pace here. A restaurant that was in the very early stages of construction upon my brother’s arrival was finished just a few weeks later, a project that would likely have taken months in the states. Walking the streets at 5:30am one morning in Wuhan, I was shocked to find a buzz of activity at a construction site. It turns out workers are there around the clock.

Seeing how efficiently an authoritarian government can act does make you think about things a bit differently. If we could ensure a just and infallible dictator with our best intentions at heart, I’d vote them into office in an instant. It’s an especially attractive option at a time when dysfunction in the U.S. congress has earned them a lower approval rating than cockroaches.

Watching a video one night, I was especially impressed by the government’s foresight in defining, planning, and executing their program to eliminate poverty which reduced the severe poverty rate from 53% to less than 10% in just 20 years. The gains seemed won so much more easily when carried out by a single, efficient party vs. multiple bickering sides.

It wasn’t until the end that I realized the documentary had been produced by the government. I started to pull up YouTube to learn from a more objective source, but quickly realized that due to the censorship I couldn’t access it, either.

It’s hard to grasp the mind boggling selection of product materials available without visiting China.

One day we headed out to look for fabrics for a product I’m developing, and ended up in the city of Guangzhou. We visited fabric shop after fabric shop, each with thousands of different options. I could have spent hours looking at the offerings of one business alone, and I quickly become overwhelmed by my choices.

After leaving one shop that had every conceivable type of buckle, strap and pull you could every imagine I asked our guide and manufacturing guru Jamon Yerger how many shops with a similar selection existed, expecting perhaps 3-4 competitors in the city. His reply: “Oh, easily dozens and dozens. Perhaps 100 or more”.

I’ve been to Tokyo, Delhi and New York City, but no where has left me with a sense of the sheer volume of resources needed to support humanity like China did. I was spellbound when we ate at a restaurant with a dining room 100 yards long. An endless stream of food poured from the kitchen, and I couldn’t help but extrapolate this scene in my mind across all of China. I left and was tempted to immediately invest my life savings in Chinese pork futures.

This scale isn’t unique to China, of course. I’m sure there’s similarly sized restaurants in cities across the world. But there’s something about China that conveys a massiveness of scale unlike anywhere else I’ve been.

My initial judgement of China for much of the trip was that of a polluted, overcrowded and brusque society. But that slowly started to change.

Just a few blocks from a massive electronics mall in Shenzhen we discovered a picturesque oasis that reminded me of Central Park in New York. It wasn’t a scene you’d expect to find in one of the world’s most well-known manufacturing centers.

My family and hosts were incredibly kind, and I was warmly treated to meal after meal with absolutely no possibility of my paying or helping out.

My biggest mindset shift came one evening as we strolled along the Yangtze River park as dusk was falling. In America, most parks would be winding down as people headed home for the night. Here a full-scale party was underway. Dozens of people flew kites decorated with elaborate lights. A group of men played with enormous tops, using whips to keep them spinning furiously.

And there was the dancing. Every quarter mile or so, we’d come across a large group of mostly older women (and a few brave men) dancing with a leader to music. I thought this was isolated to the park, and was surprised to see similar scenes in parking lots, shopping centers and random sidewalks across the city. The groups were everywhere, doing everything from simple moves to elaborate, modern couples routines.

As our bus bounced home over a bridge illuminated by strands of colored lights, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of community and energy in the air as we drove throughout the city. It was if everyone came out after a busy day to play, relax and connect with each other. It’s not a feeling I’ve had in many places before.

Even while leaving, I had the nicest, most amiable custom agent I’ve ever run into – normally an interaction you look forward to as much as a lunchtime stop at your local DMV.

As my return plane took to the air, I knew I wouldn’t miss the crowds, the chickens feet, overcast skies or the pig jerky airline breakfast appetizer I had just been handed. But I was already looking forward to coming back.

Special thanks to my brother Chris for showing me around China and putting up with my antics. To Jamon from High Cappin for being our tour guide in Shenzhen. And especially to my sister-in-law Laura and her parents Xueshan and Huadi for graciously hosting me.

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2014西藏行日记

2014的夏天,我,LP,姐姐和姐夫四人一起去了一趟西藏,共8天7夜。这里分享一下这次旅行的日记。

 

Day 1

早5点出门,爸爸开车,接上姐姐姐夫,直奔机场。7点准时起飞,先经停西安,期间在西安机场客吉莱商店买了一个木头火车音乐盒给火车迷儿子,让商店给寄回家。再飞西宁,约11点半到达。想坐出租车去市区,无奈出租车尾箱都很小,放不下(或说司机不愿放下)两件行李,只好坐民航大巴。西宁建设工地很多,到处都是高楼。下大巴后发现拉了一袋食物在车上,内有侄子专门为我们这一次旅行做的面包。于是决定姐夫立即打车去民航大巴总站追回,其余三人拉着箱子走路去酒店。走了好远,好累,还要过过街隧道,才到达酒店(锦江之星)。我头很晕。姐姐有洁癖,一定要在上火车前洗个澡,所以订了一间酒店房间专门来洗澡。不久姐夫也拿回食物回来会合。休息过后,去旁边的莫家街吃小吃,吃了:羊肚面,杂碎汤,羊肉串,酸奶,酿皮,牛肉拉面等。然后要打车去同仁路手机广场跟黄牛见面拿了火车票,打不到车,打了一辆三轮黑车去。拿到票,再打车回酒店。姐姐姐夫先回酒店洗澡,我们二人逛书店买书,又去超市买了水,饮料,零食。洗完澡,退房。因为打车难,决定坐专线2路大巴去火车西站。车很挤很热,晃荡40分钟终于到达西宁西客站。进软卧候车室等候。7点多上车,花费好大功夫终于把4个铺位都换到同一个包厢。7点50准时发车。路上看见青海湖。一夜无话。

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Day 2

凌晨4点到达格尔木,下车看看。车头换成GE制造的高原专用车头。中午过唐古拉山口,大家都很不舒服,头晕头痛。姐夫发烧。我吃了火车盒饭。下午近7点抵达拉萨火车站,下车后打车100元去酒店(岷山饭店,开张没两年,就在布达拉宫背后)。到楼下酒店餐厅order了晚餐take out。姐夫发烧,去楼下仁义诊所吸氧,输液,11点方回,已经没事。今晚我们还是洗澡了。

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Day 3

6点就醒了,得知马航航班被击落。吃过早餐,去酒店的旅游咨询处咨询导游小张,被告知布达拉宫的门票非常紧张,要把我们的身份证交给他们的人通宵排队才能买到。最终决定今日先去看西藏博物馆和色拉寺,逛八角街,明日包奔驰商务车去羊湖1350元,后日去布达拉宫大昭寺一日游(850每人共3400元),大后日包车去纳木错(具体未定),第五天拉萨闲逛。然后打两辆车去了西藏博物馆,有佛像,唐卡,历史文件等等。看完展览,打一辆车去了色拉寺,午餐于旁边某川菜馆。看色拉寺大殿,喇嘛辩经(每天下午2点开始),某大殿。出来打一黑车去了八角街,先去老字号光明港琼甜茶馆喝奶茶。接着逛店,姐夫买了把藏刀(不让买卖藏刀,是悄悄的秘密交易),我们买了1幅白度母唐卡,两幅方形坛城唐卡,共2500。然后吃了八角街门口的拉萨厨房(基本上是印度,尼泊尔菜)。晚饭后逛大昭寺外围,跟藏民一起转大昭寺。LP买了裙子。回去打不到车,打了两辆人力车回去,共40元。

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Day 4

早9:30  司机小刘开奔驰商务车来接,去羊湖一日游。12点左右抵达羊湖山顶眺望,然后又下去湖边玩,景色其实一般般。我高反发作,难受。没吃午饭。3点左右回到曲水吃路边西瓜摊。4点左右回到拉萨,接上小刘的同乡,一起去娜玛瑟德尼泊尔菜吃晚饭。点了娜玛瑟德鸡,娜玛瑟德蘑菇,咖喱牛,沙拉等。6点回到酒店,休息后,再步行出来想找旅行社问包车去纳木错的事,问了好多家,决定跟团去,约220元每人。后姐姐姐夫坐三轮车回去酒店。我们两人步行回去,路上在布达拉宫背后跟一群摄影爱好者一起照布达拉宫夜色。途中得知姐夫与小刘直接联系,得到后日1000元包车去纳木错的安排。回到酒店,一起讨论行程,聊家事,聊到12点多。

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Day 5

早9:30  通过酒店安排的马导游(女)开别克商务车来接。先去大昭寺。马导讲解非常熟练到位。大昭寺内看到无数佛像,其中有佛祖释 迦牟尼12岁等身金像为大昭寺之宝,全世界仅有。中午在大昭寺旁某川菜馆吃饭。1点到布达拉宫,排队进宫。看了德央夏广场,过了广场排队进楼里就开始不让照相。依次看了白宫东日光殿,红宫各种灵塔,法王洞,天然形成的檀香木观音像等。出来买了书和dvd。姐夫不舒服,二人先回酒店。我们俩继续逛,吃了酸奶,然后进布达拉宫南门,想看旧监狱但是不开放。看新旧西藏展览,看珍宝馆,期间遇到西藏自治区副主席视察珍宝馆。出来已5点,走路回到酒店。休息,洗澡。后又决定拿白度母唐卡回去八角街给装裱起来(打车去),又买了四幅稍微粗糙些的唐卡(320元)和转经桶玛尼。看了好多家的绿松石项链,价格水分太大,没敢买。打车回去酒店,买了炸鸡,order了酒店的炒饭。一起聊天。

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Day 6

原定今天去纳木错。早上起来后我觉得头痛发冷,量体温发现发烧到38.4度。吃过早餐过后决定不去纳木错,打电话告诉冯师傅改到明天再去。8点去仁义诊所,没开门,只能回去酒店休息睡觉。到9点半左右姐夫陪同我再去诊所,吸氧,输高反针,退烧针等,共3包药液。近12点才完,费用280。回酒店休息整理,然后下楼吃某川菜,有钵钵鸡。然后打车去哲蚌寺,请了一个导游讲解。导游讲解完后又自行闲逛了约2小时。坐小巴回到酒店。问酒店的导游小张,得到去太阳岛吃烤鱼的建议。休息整理后,打两辆人力车去八角街(途中下雨)取回唐卡,又换了两张受损唐卡,看了看绿松石项链,然后打车去太阳岛,逛了食街,没找到烤鱼,已经饿得不行了,决定吃街口的和福顺闷锅,不是很好吃。吃完饭走路到布达拉宫前广场,还爬了药王山看布达拉宫夜景,照相。回到酒店已经近11点。

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Day 7

早8点冯师傅开江铃商务车来接,出发去纳木错。11点半左右在当雄某川菜馆吃饭,吃了炒腊猪肉。继续前往纳木错,翻过5190米的山口,到达纳木错湖边停车场,走路到湖边,边走边吸氧。湖边人超多,都是骑牦牛照相的。景色没有想像中的美,主要是人太多。回到车上,起程返回拉萨。中间停留念青唐古拉山雪峰脚下照相。途中在车上我被风吹得不舒服。最后一段师傅开得很快。跟冯师傅说好明日6点半来接300元送去机场。回到酒店我又发烧,赶快洗澡,吃了酒店西红柿蛋面,吃药,睡觉,出了一身汗,10点左右方好转。姐姐姐夫到楼下川菜馆吃了菌汤。

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Day 8

早起退房,拿了酒店给的盒装早餐。冯师傅6点半准时来接。出发去机场,约50分钟到达。拉萨机场保安严密,气氛凝重。Checkin过后,LP买了一绿松石链570元(开价1600),和牦牛奶泡糖。飞机delay,10点多才起飞。12点抵达成都停留,买了灯影牛肉。因为在西安机场买的那个火车音乐盒寄到家后丢失了那个会走的小火车,而成都机场也有那家客吉莱店,我们想去问问能不能给送或卖我们一个小火车,于是我和LP出了安检区,找到商家客吉莱,就在安检出口不远处。可是店员不肯卖给我们。回去进安检却发现我们两人的身份证都在姐夫那儿,进不了安检。打电话叫姐夫让工作人员把包拿出来给我们,过安检,查了好久我们的拉萨机场登机牌,好不容易终于让我们过了。到登机口处已只剩我们四人还没登机。1点15推出,3点半降落,爸爸来接。又见到可爱的胖宝弟弟和姐姐,全家人一起在家吃晚饭。

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松口小镇

拍摄于2013年春