Yunnan trip! - some commentary =p
Although the trip was boring at times (in effect, I went on a trip with a lot of "aunties" and "uncles"...) it was a good time of reflection. There was nothing to do in the evening so I actually went to bed early sometimes! (I roomed with my aunt.) I also was able to complete my reading for my course. As this trip was organized by that NPO, they had a debriefing session on the last day. It was interesting to hear different perspectives and reflections of other people. Many of my reflections which were echoed, even if not necessarily from the same world-viewpoint.
This is quite a nice city. It's a relatively smaller city, similar to Chengdu where I went last year. Although traffic in China will inevitably be crazy for the near-term, it was still good to see that it wasn't *CRAZY*, in a way reflecting the general level of education of the public... in terms of following rules and whatnot. I was also very very impressed that every single garbage can had a dual bin, one for garbage and one for recyclables. Maybe the policies of Yunnan province were generally like that... the cities in general were very ecologically conscious.
Minority peoples in China
Minority peoples is probably one of the distinguishing characteristics of Yunnan province. Out of China's 52(?) minority peoples, 26 (I think) are in Yunnan province alone. So, along our tour, we learned a lot about the dominant ones: Bai, Miao, Jong... Probably in conjunction with the surging tourism in Yunnan (more on that below), it was great to see the pride of each minority people as each tourguide aimed to share about his or her own peoples. It is encouraging to see government policy encouraging the promotion of the uniqueness of each minority. I also know that the government aims to promote development of minority peoples through the few programs I know from MSI.
An interesting thing, also, is that of our three tourguides, two of them were mixed between different minority groups (NaXi and Miao, Jong and Miao), which is an indicator of openness rather than prideful esotericism or of rivalries.
The prime example is LiJiang. Since the discovery of the town, tourism has taken over. [DaLi was more industrial to begin with, so had its own in sources of economy.] The tourguide mentioned that tourism funds about 80% of the economy, an increase from 20%. Just incredible. The Jong minority tourguide for Shangri-La used to be a teacher... and then changed to the tourguide profession as it was more lucrative.
A thriving economy is always a good sign in terms of funding towards social development. At the same time, when it comes to such rapid economic growth, it is inevitable that there will be increasing income gaps between the "have's" and "have not's"...