Sunday, April 26, 2009

Xijiang Village: enroute to commercialization

A few months back, an email was circulating around with beautiful photos of Xijiang ethnic minority Miao village of Guizhou province and Fenghuang Old Town of Hunan province, both in China. A month ago, I visited Xijiang. It is the largest Miao village of China - more photos are in my Facebook album, link here:

Below are the 4 photos from that email (taken by a professional photographer with a superior camera!) and those that I took. It's obvious the village is undergoing changes in the name of tourism (read my observations below). Looks like it's going the way of many tourist attractions in China, becoming a touristy place with a steep entrance fee and glitzy commercialization. So go visit it ASAP... the earlier the better...

Xijiang village can be reached in about 45min from Kaili city via a new road. Previously, you had to go via Leishan town, a journey of maybe 2 hours. The public bus station at the end of the village is still there but a new parking lot for tourist buses has been built at the opposite end, together with a ticketing booth.

Xijiang village has already started charging an entrance fee since April 1. Officially it's RMB 100 per person but at that time it was RMB 60 trial period price. Well at least for the money paid, I had a pretty Miao girl serving me a welcome drink of rice wine.

(Above) This is the original village square with a Miao spiritual pole.
(Below) The new square is much, much bigger and built to stage cultural performances for future bus loads of tourists.

(Above) The original main street of the village with buildings on both sides.
(Below) New shoplots, still unoccupied, fronting the new main street. This street runs parallel to the river and links to the new village square.
I do notice that some concrete buildings in the earlier photos have been replaced with wooden ones (or maybe painted dark brown in a colour-matching exercise!), giving the village a more homogenous and pleasant look.

New bridges constructed adds to the atmosphere of the village .

The village is lit up at night.

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