Phase 3: Interpreting Information

Updated 6 months 3 weeks ago

In Phase 3, I will be gathering, arranging, and interpreting information from various resources in advance to and throughout the entire trip. In Phase 0, I selected my topic and recorded useful advice from previous Microcampus participants. In the following Phase 1, I discussed my prior knowledge and future expectations on my topic. 

Background Information (from Phase 1):

Yunnan Information: Yunnan is a mountain and plateau region located on the southwest border of China, encompassed by Sichuan, Guizhou, and Guangxi. Along the southeast and southwest, it shares borders with Laos, Vietnam, and Myanmar. Despite owning abundant natural resources, Yunnan was underdeveloped and segregated until recent decades, for their central government lacked dominant power from political, religious, and ethnic differences between provinces. However, the status quo indicates that Yunnan, although still unreformed, has clear evidence of contribution to political, economic, and cultural aspects of China. Around 6 percent of Yunnan's lands are suitable for agriculture. The region's biggest food supply is rice, followed by corns, sweet potatoes, vegetables, sugarcane, and tea, which has a well-known reputation around the world.[1] Furthermore, Yunnan is one of China's major producers of tobacco. Recently, developing tobacco industries, such as the Yuxi cigarette factory, have been integrating IT technologies to spur industrial production, change the management of enterprise within companies, and possibly influence the general public's opinions toward unconventional working systems. [2]

History of the Bai People: Looking back at history, the Bai people were geographically advantageous. As the kingdom of Nanzhao was formed by six small Bai kingdoms, Dali was selected to become the capital. Its natural barriers could prevent attacks from other Chinese cities and could control the east-west trade routes from China to India. Through actively trading with other cities with woven silk, cotton, salt, and gold mines, the kingdom gained booming economic prosperity. Regardless of the state's income, slaves were forced into labor while farmers had to pay high taxes and conduct all the strenuous work. After adopting the expansionist policy, the kingdom extended its territory to Chengdu and parts of Myanmar and Vietnam. However, over the course of time, rebellions from slaves and farmers caused the kingdom to produce the Kingdom of Dali. As this kingdom got defeated by Mongolia, a new feudal system granted power to the local farmers and enhanced the quality of the lives of the lower status circle. [4]

Tourism in Yunnan (Including Controversies): Dali, a region next to the Erhai Lake, is under development to attract tourists from all around the nation by incorporating fantasies of the tourists about the past. Dali officials have constructed travel sites to gratify people's willingness to experience the culture's history through a fictional replication of certain remnants. In fact, Dali is only one of the regions going under a change to distinguish themselves with their competitors that could potentially attract more visitors. Heavenly Dragons, a novel by Jin Yong illustrates how readers could have fantastical, imaginative perceptions about Dali as claimed by Zhang Nan, a resident of Dali. He suggests that developers should take immediate actions to develop tourism through constructing tourist sites, such as creating a "City- That- Never-Sleeps" along the shores of Lake Erhai in which includes a karaoke building, a laser disk film theater, and a "Dali in Miniature". His seven other reconstruction guidelines all potentially stimulates tourists and encourages them to inundate themselves with fictional fantasies and realms of ancient Dali. Gradually, Dali is viewed almost as a theme park. Visitors can make false interpretations that Dali's residents were initially living simple, theme-park-like lives and distort reality through fictionalization. In the process, buildings on Dali's old streets have been torn down and rebuilt, and fields were cleared to provide spaces for cars, railways, and parking lots. In some cases, villagers created rumors about the dangers of a tourist site called "Heavenly Dragons Cave", which purposely criticizes the indifference towards the villagers themselves. These stances point out that new tourist places threaten the well being of humans. 

The lack of political voice of the villagers causes lower opportunities to stand up for their rights. Mr. Li, a villager, has mentioned that authorities conducted a construction of a new road that could allow tourist buses to travel in circles around Lake Erhai. For this particular decision, the villagers had no voice in it, nor were they informed beforehand. Also, Yang LanHua, a Bai village woman says that the new stone bridge around Lake Erhai for tourists has deterred villagers from properly catching fish. The authorities promised that they would make money by giving rides on boats, but most of the tourists were taking large cruise ships. Subconsciously, the little changes taking place are degrading the quality of life and interfering with the traditions of the people. 

Dali villagers of the old and young have contradicting views. Young villagers, as well the village officials, have considered the "transformation" of Dali as a positive step towards achieving modernity. They are willing to take on the new job opportunities from tourist sites, working as guides or performers rather than farmers that conduct many harsh, tiresome work. Many of them hope to be thriving in the reform era, whereas some aged villagers attempt to oppose the reformation through creating conjectures and stories. Therefore, those who are flourishing and benefiting from the reformation are gladly welcoming the change, and those considered as "inflexible" and "uneducated" are struggling to protect their traditions. 

Muslims, the minority that suffered from discrimination from the 19th century, greets tourism as opportunities to flourish economically. They initiated private businesses, such as cafes to attract transnational tourists. Ironically, many people stay in Dali and experience more of the western, foreign culture instead of searching for "authenticity". The "Foreigner Street" is criticized for becoming just like other tourist attractions. [3]

According to Joyce K., Xizhou has been more commercialized to attract tourists. Although most tourists visit Xizhou to experience the authentic culture, they see products that do not represent the place itself. Some of the traditional buildings have been destroyed to adjust to the needs of tourists, and this reshaped the tradition of the people. The Bai people's old architecture integrated western styles, and this individuality is being stripped away because of the desire to make more profit. However, the influx of tourists does bring in economic success. Many shops and restaurants posted online are already very famous. The side effect would be that small businesses get fewer opportunities to flourish because of big companies dominating everything. [7]

Austin Y. has mentioned about tourists producing large amounts of trash in the towns. Mr. Yang, who runs a restaurant, says villagers have to pick up big piles of trash every day, which were mostly produced by the Baba makers and its leftovers. Although trash would be taken out on a daily basis, there are still remaining trash widespread. However, most interviewees consider the economic benefits of tourism to outweigh the environmental consequences. Thus, it can be concluded that many people are willing to contribute to the expanding economy and fame of Xizhou. [8]

Development in Xizhou/Yunnan: Approximately one-fourth of Yunnan's population is categorized as urban, while the rest is rural. Instead of large, metropolitan buildings, Yunnan has developed into a medium-sized city since the industrial growth of the late 20th century. Some of the most developed cities are Kunming, the capital, Geiju, a city famous for tin, Dali, a region along the borders of Tibet and Myanmar, and Kaiyuan, a coal mining and power generating center. [1] Recently, developing tobacco industries, such as the Yuxi cigarette factory, have been integrating IT technologies to spur industrial production, change the management of enterprise within companies, and possibly influence the general public's opinions toward unconventional working systems. [2]

Reformation is a highly controversial issue. Transformation of the infrastructure was a major benefit because villagers could use the highway to travel to other villages and maintain their bonding with other people, as well as travel to other cities in China, which helped them to experience more of the outer world. However, in the process of construction, villagers coerced to yield their land to building new roads. Mr. Li, a volunteer interviewer, revealed the fact that many lost their homes and farming lands without receiving any compensation or being relocated. He expressed that fine houses and farming were a crucial factor in many farmers' lives, and without these properties, a villager would obtain a lower social status. Meanwhile, each farmer had different opportunities when it came to building new houses. Those with relations with village officials were given sufficient money and large tracts of land, while the others received significantly less land or even none. According to research, the number of farmers increased while the number of lands decreased over the course of time.   

Building new roads and high ways pose serious threats to the villagers, for they are victimized by the corruption of village officials and the government. The ambiguity of legal language, a general unfamiliarity with the law, and corruption are contributing factors to the lack of power the villagers hold. Most formal land ownership and decision-making power belong to the high authorities. Whether the state will protect the farmers' rights or developers' rights will depend on the officials. For instance, most compensation for the relocation of villagers goes to the village production team rather than the legitimate recipients. 

On a higher level, there has been deaths and severe accidents associated with the construction of highways. According to "Teacher Du", a villager introduced in the book, several villagers died from car accidents on the highway. A 28-year-old man was driving a putt-putt tractor from the highway onto the dirt road, but a truck drove too fast to see him. In regards to the accidents, some opponents suggest that the villagers caused the initial problems because they were not well educated - that they were not adjusted to the new mechanism, so they should be banned from the highways. Thus, this occurrence tells us that there is a drastic gap between the pace of urbanization and the lives of the villagers. It takes slow, gradual process to convert the conventional lifestyles into something significantly different and strange. [3]

Globalization Around the World: Globalization is the process of economies, cultures, governmental policies, and political movements around the world assimilating with one another. [5] Not only does Xizhou go through consequences from their reformation. In other areas of China, such as in the Shanxi province, there were demonstrations demanding for better land expropriation compensation. Likewise, in Indonesia, thousands of villagers opposed to constructing the theme park "Beautiful Indonesia". However, the situation is comparatively tenser in China as the real estate and population pressures are high.[3]

Conclusively, globalization is a worldwide phenomenon occurring in most developing countries. The urban population in 2014 has reached 54%, and it is continuing to grow. [6] As much as there are benefits of entering the modern era, such as a country's boost of the economy, the conflict of valuing the past and preferring transformation is still a predominant issue. 

Information from 3-to-5's: 

Mr. Tafel [9]

  • The Linden Centre has both positives and negatives 

  • Government interaction is challenging 

  • The Erhai Lake Policy shuts down businesses and prevents them from gaining excessive profit

  • There are fewer tourists than a year ago 

  • Xizhou was ranked in the top 60 most wonderful villages in China, so the government gave Xizhou a great amount of money 

Ms. Mai [10]:

  • The Erhai Lake Policy changed the fishing industry, the habits of people using water, and minimized the jobs of fishermen 

  • That forced them to seek for new jobs, affecting their family income 

  • The garlic fields and other crop fields were turned into parking lots 

Information From Local Contacts: 

March 14th w/ Jiajia jiejie [11] 

  • Compared to the past, tourism increased in the village 

  • More tourists resulted in better, spurred economy

  • For her, the most valuable aspect of tourism was making more friends and connections

  • The current tourist situation does not represent Bai minority's culture, only Xizhou itself 

  • Lots of people are interested in souvenirs and products rather than understanding the unique Bai culture 

  • Her shop does not represent Bai traditions because it serves to satisfy consumers with irrelevant but attractive goods 

  • She believes that businesses like tie-dye shops cannot be in comparison with hers 

  • Her perspective towards the Linden Centre is optimistic; she appreciates, values, and further respects their contributions

  • Linden Centre has guided village to entering tourism, and the Lindens, who are foreigners, are preserving traditions better than Xizhou people

  • She thinks that extra revenue should be spent on supporting the Linden Centre, constructing local libraries and catering educational facilities 

  • Firmly believes that Xizhou should remain the way it is now

  • Opposes to building new constructions or roads 

  • Expresses discontentment to Xizhou being too developed and gradually turning into Dali 

                      March 14th w/ Li Ayi [12]

  • Today, the village is more packed, busy because of growing tourism

  • As a result, she is gaining greater income and quality of life is improving significantly 

  • Believes that there are more benefits than disadvantages to tourism 

  • A drawback is that villagers are too busy nowadays compared to the past; the village was more peaceful and people tended to have closer connections

  • For instance, neighbors would bring food and share them during meals, had more face to face conversations

  • However, tourism is definitely better for the economy

  • Tourists are not necessarily understanding Bai culture 

  • Her ideal future of Xizhou depicts more tourists, cleaner roads 

  • She views the Linden Centre as a “带领人” of Xizhou's tourism; it has the greatest role that sparked an influx of tourists 

  • Acknowledges the intentions of the Lindens 

                     March 15th w/ Mr. Hu [13]

  • There are much more people in the village compared to the past

  • His hometown is in Hubei, but he came here to run a business in 2015; he also bought a house

  • Enjoys the environment and nature of Xizhou

  • Believes that tourism increased income and made positive advances in the economy

  • Therefore, in the perspective of businesses, tourism is beneficial

  • The prices of products/goods have also increased since tourism was dominant in town 

  • Not a lot of tourists understand the Bai minority's culture; they just come and go and stay here to take flowers in Canola fields or walk around 

  • There is no need to build new constructions or roads 

  • Desires Xizhou to remain in the same way as today and not become too commercialized (he mentioned Anhui as an example)

  • Personally prefers the previous lifestyle of peace and serenity 

                     March 15th w/ Mr. Sun [14]

  • He originally came from Jiangsu but came to Xizhou in 2013

  • Foreigners, visitors were very rare back then; Xizhou was merely a home and domestic area 

  • However, there is no drastic development in the economy 

  • While the elders who were inhabiting in the old buildings tend to keep and preserve the traditional architecture, some young people sell them 

  • Xizhou currently is better at preservation compared to other areas

  • He believes that Xizhou integrates their traditions with modernity through utilizing tourism 

  • Linden Centre does not necessarily have the greatest role in Xizhou's development, but it still contributes along with several other institutions and systems 

  • The Lindens allowed more people around the world to learn about Xizhou 

  • He has no particular thoughts on Xizhou's partnership with the municipal government 

  • Nonetheless, shows great appreciation towards Linden Centre promoting traditional activities for visitors 

  • Wishes more expense should be spent on environment, transportation

  • Construction has destructed a lot of lands, and they are not done with adequate care (they are "strange")

  • There should be better policies that ensure the constructions to be both organized and efficient 

  • Thinks that the Chinese government never really handles these issues with effort and precision 

                     March 16th w/ Mrs. Fu [15]

  • She makes beer as her business 

  • She originally worked at Shangrila, worked at Yang Zhuo Ran for 3 years (worked as a cleaner)

  • The Erhai Lake Policy caused many businesses to close and change water usage habits 

  • Although she doesn't use water from the Erhai Lake, she got used to using it since a few months ago 

  • There are more constructions than before 

  • Considers water as a very important source, and believes Erhai has great influence on people's lives

  • She personally doesn't have any views towards the authenticity of the Bai minority's traditions 

  • Tourism has a positive influence because consumers, using social media such as Wechat, recommends and promotes their products

  • As a result, her products were exported to other districts such as Xinjiang 

  • Believes that the Linden Centre's activities help tourists understand Bai culture

  • She has witnessed visitors who were genuinely interested to experience Bai traditions

  • Looks forward to next two years; if construction is finished within the next few years, tourism will flourish on a higher level

                     March 19th w/ Mrs. A-Ling [16]

  • She has worked at the Linden Centre for 5 years 

  • Previously, she has worked at a nursery in Xizhou

  • She transferred to earn more money, learn more about the outer world, and find a job that suits her schedule

  • Compared to the past, there was a substantial growth in tourism 

  • Linden Centre has lead development and preserved Bai culture (All of the architecture and activities represent Bai)

  • Within the village, people show strong support of LC; even sometimes calls Mr.Linden as their “村长”

  • There are more guests at the place before, especially domestic (Chinese) tourists (before there was a higher proportion of foreigners)

  • Personally, she thinks that the foreigners view the workers and bosses in an equal position more than the Chinese 

  • Foreign guests also show more interest and curiosity to learn about culture

  • There are no TVs in the rooms because the LC's purpose is to allow guests to interact with the buildings and traditional Bai environment 

  • Overall, employees are satisfied with their works

  • Her favourite aspect of working is interacting with guests 

  • Hopes that the LC can preserve more traditions in the next 10 years 

  • Compared to other districts, Xizhou is more well-preserved: for instance, The Bai minority's language is still spoken nowadays 

  • Views the Erhai Lake Policy to have positive influences; the government is well protecting the lake, preventing pollution and securing the animals 

  • Wishes Xizhou not to turn like Dali or Lijiang where areas are commercialized too much

  • As being one of the Bai minorities, her experience at the LC changed her thoughts and provided personal growth 

  • She took English courses that the center offered and is now able to understand parts of English conversations

  • Her daughter also takes an English course at Baochengfu 

  • Expresses that she has found more value and purpose to her life

                     March 19th w/ Ms. Yang [17]

  • She originally came from Kunming and joined the Linden Centre 5 to 6 months ago after graduating from college 

  • Rather than being a company, she views the Linden Centre as a big family 

  • She is satisfied with her job

  • The Linden Centre has provided her an opportunity to learn English, so she believes that they have a positive impact

  • She also enjoys artists visiting, such as the photographers who came during the music festival

  • She wishes other places in China could adopt similar programs/systmes

  • The architecture at the Linden Centre represents Bai culture, for instance, the front doors and the doors of the reception 

                     March 20th w/ Mrs. Dong [18]

  • Compared to past, there are more tourists

  • A lot of people used to live together in a house before, but they now live in separate houses

  • Because there are not enough places for tourists to stay, she believes there should be an increased construction of hotels, guesthouses, etc. 

  • Some guests eating at her restaurant complain about the price; others are interested and ask questions 

  • She enjoys the loud, clamorous atmosphere of the present day over the quiet, peaceful village in the past

  • The Bai traditions are being preserved well 

  • Once the government started encouraging using Erhai Lake water, it was hard to adjust to the change because there was a seagrass odor/taste

  • However, they are now used to using the water

  • She views the policy to bring a lot of positive impacts since it protects the animals and prevents water from contamination

  • She responded that even though she were one of the shops to close their business, she would support the policy 

  • She uses the lake's water to cook 

  • Overall, she has a tendency to support the decisions of the government 

  • Since tourism increases her income, she believes that government should build new constructions and work on expanding their potentials to attract more tourists 

                     March 20th w/ Mrs. Zhao [19]

  • She has worked at her current shop for 7 years, first starting off the business only with her husband 

  • Nowadays, there are more shops, the rents for houses increased (Used to be 1 million yuan -> Now 7 million yuan for her current house)

  • Meanwhile, her income has also increased as well

  • Since her shop is expanding in size and more customers are coming, she hired two more employees to better handle the workload

  • The competition is fierce this year, making her business difficult 

  • Each customer only buys little portions, such as "one baba"

  • Unlike Dali where there are opportunities to run a business at night, Xizhou's (specifically Sifangjie) businesses revolve only around daytime

  • Attempts to pave roads and fix wires prevent cars and people from coming in, which hinders their business opportunities 
  • Tourism shows that government cares about preserving the Bai traditions, for instance: the government is funding shops to change their steel doors into wood, which resembles Bai culture
  • The Erhai Lake policy enforced villagers to use the lake's water after Xi Jinping's visit in 2015
  • Since people traditionally used water from mountain streams, most villagers show discontent
  • As an alternative, some get water from the bottom of mountains (泉水)
  • She believes that because the government depleted their water source from the mountains, they are encouraging them to use Erhai water
  • Government should spend money on building street lamps (because there are hardly any), organizing electric wires placed haphazardly over the place, and taking care of the trash produced by tourists 
  • The baba's ash pollutes the air, yet the government cannot do anything because they are popular and well-known to tourists
  • Her ideal future is being able to earn high come, simultaneously preserve environment and culture 

       March 21st w/ Mrs. Linden [20]

  • Compared to the past, there are more people from other areas in China starting a business in Xizhou 
  • Rather than being interested in the Bai minority, they built the Linden Center because the village could provide a place for an old building and the culture was comparatively well preserved (were particularly interested in art culture) 
  • Views the village as a partner 
  • Communicates with villagers through their staff who are mainly local residents and vendors that are in partnership 
  • Went to the government support at first and responded with approval after recognizing their enthusiasm, started building trust after 
  • Xizhou is not like any other old town because they have unique food, handy crafts, and special culture 
  • She wishes money to be spent on improving infrastructure and sewage systems for clean water
  • If roads are paved, it is going to be difficult due to an overwhelming influx 

       March 21st w/ Mr. Linden [21]

  • Xizhou had a lot of historical buildings, making Xizhou an ideal place to build the Linden Centre
  • The government had flexibility (and was even quite welcoming) because Xizhou was far away from the capital 
  • At first, they knew very little about the Bai minority 
  • They have integrated "friendliness" into the building 
  • This project demonstrates the capability of "soft power" 
  • The government is aware that businesses tend to exploit tourism opportunities 
  • Some government officials were proud of the preservation they promoted (some were astonished)
  • He mentions that it is comprehensible for tourists to visit Dali with a desire to fulfill their imaginations 
  • For instance, the Tea Horse Road and Silk Road were coined by foreigners later on 
  • The local residents are very proud to witness their culture being presented and existing in the form of something alive 
  • They are reminded of their ancestors and thus their identities 
  • Xizhou can be differentiated by other areas because a lot of places in China are already very commercialized 
  • The Lindens asked the government to prevent alteration of historical remnants 
  • Now, the government spends approximately 500 million dollars to retain artifacts 
  • He wishes money could be spent on improving infrastructure, managing sewage systems, and preserving buildings 

       March 22nd at Lanxu [22]

  • Lanxu's characteristic is to utilize the tradition of tie-dyes in an innovative method (so that culture still lives on and profits them) 
  • They believe that traditions can also be preserved through adding a modern aspect to it 
  • Instead of just selling normal tie-dye fabric, they recreate the tie-dyes into a variety of products, such as handbags, scarves, dresses, hats, etc. 
  • They integrate both traditional and modern designs 
  • The area is ideal for taking photos (they have designed the interior to be conducive for tourist attractions, for instance: decorating the place into light indigo color, setting up a terrace to see the canola fields, etc.) 
  • They have implemented a lucrative aspect that can potentially alter the perspective of tourists and earn their attention 
  • Based on my observations, an employee was demonstrating and teaching tourists to tie-dye 
  • They were really focused on getting a perfect snapshot rather than asking questions about some background information 
  • Implies that modern tourism is shaped by the surface rather than protecting the core meaning and values of the tradition 

       March 22nd w/ Foreign Tourist [23]

  • He has been at Dali around 20 years ago 
  • Decided to stay at Xizhou for a day to visit Lake Erhai 
  • Very few foreigners in Xizhou while there are a lot in Dali 
  • Thinks that the Lindens have done a great job of preserving the culture 
  • Enjoys the organic, natural scenery of Xizhou 

       March 22nd w/ Mr. Zhao (guard at Yangzhuoran) [24]

  • He has been working at the Linden Centre for 6 years
  • When he was young, he worked at another city
  • Someone introduced him to work as a guard
  • The Linden Centre's architecture is different from normal guesthouses because it still retains traditional designs and doesn't have TVs
  • They hold activities such as dances and festivals
  • There are more foreigners nowadays 
  • The Linden Centre provided job opportunities for local residents 
  • Compared to the past, today's Xizhou is better, for increased tourism brought about higher life qualities and full streets (in the past, Sifangjie was barren, deserted but now it is full of businesses)
  • Most tourists come and go rather than trying to understand the culture 
  • Some tourists are rude while he appreciates that Microcampus students communicate with residents in a polite manner
  • Tourism also harms the environment; there are more trash and therefore more trash trucks and landfills (trash are burned in massive amounts)
  • Hopes for a Xizhou that is more developed, possibly building more factories, spurring tourism, and communicating with the outer world 

       March 26th w/ Mr. Chen [25]

  • The influence people received from tourism differs and he cannot fully describe the situation 
  • Everyone in the village knows about the Linden Centre
  • People feel attracted to the Linden Centre because it is definitely different from other hotels in the way it has various activities that represent Bai culture 
  • In the past, there were more Chinese guests but starting from last year, there was a higher proportion of foreign guests 
  • The Linden Centre provides job opportunities and brings fame through advertisement on social media (people are also interested because of the owner - the Lindens are foreigners)
  • Recently, the town has been too commercialized by catering to tourist needs
  • He wishes for less pollution in the future; however, as for business people, they are getting many advantages 
  • Feels like there are way too many people and the village is getting too noisy 
  • The price of houses are rising too much and residents are struggling despite their increase in income
  • When asked how he predicted the future, he said that nobody knows and he is not sure 
  • Certain traditions are being altered, such as the traditional clothing, but it is a natural process of development
  • He believes the government should keep on fixing roads and infrastructure so that it does not hinder any transportation movement 

One remarkable thought Mr. Chen differentiated himself with others was that he did not impose his personal wills to determine the future of Xizhou. Rather than personalizing the issue in his own favor, he drew a bigger picture and thought that the future will be naturally decided upon the next generations. This insight was significantly different from depicting an ideal future that served a purpose for a higher income, cleaner environment, more recognition, and so on. 

       March 27th w/ Mr. Dong [26]

  • He started the job since last year 
  • There are around 150 carts in Xizhou today, and they started to increase since last year
  • Some visitors want to experience the traditional method of transportation, so they take the horsecarts 
  • He recommends some places to travel to the visitors 
  • He didn't have any particular reason to start this job 
  • The guest in the cart said that he took the cart because of his circumstances and it was efficient and easier 
  • Most people take the carts to travel to restaurants or parks (海山公园)
  • Wishes in the future, roads will be taken care of 

       March 27 w/ Mrs. He [27]

  • The teacher is from Dali and decided to start this business because of interest and passion 
  • Has stores in other cities like Shanghai and even one in Japan 
  • Mrs. He is working here because she wants to study and eventually build her own shop 
  • Every customer has their own taste, so cannot categorize their preferences
  • There are foreigners, domestic tourists, and Xizhou residents who buy their products 
  • There are traditional style clothes and also clothes suitable for daily life 
  • Most tourists prefer traditional clothing 
  • Local residents sometimes buy clothes and wear them for long times because they are loose and comfortable
  • Generally, younger people are a little burdened with the cost because they range from a few hundred to millions (RMB)
  • They haven't advertised online yet, but they are planning to 
  • Wants to expand their business to other parts of the world 
  • Offers guests tea when they stay at the shop longer 
  • The clothes are not necessarily all Bai traditional clothing

Mrs. He's insight and aspirations provided me thoughts how tourism could benefit greatly to those who want to start their businesses and chase their dreams. Through using tourist opportunities, the younger generation can expand their boundaries and find opportunities to gain experience and eventually interact with the outside world. 

Answers to Previous Questions (from Phase 1): 

Questions on Past / Present / Future 

1.How does the village look like today compared to the past?
In the past, Xizhou was a quiet, peaceful village without definite sources of production and massive industries that supported the economy. As tourism took the advantage of traditional Bai culture, more tourists visit Xizhou each year, leading to faster commercialization. As a result, some ripple effects are harming the environment and redefining the meaning of tradition within the Xizhou community.

2. Is there evidence of advanced technology integrated into today's Xizhou?
My interviews did not revolve around finding evidence of advanced technology, but I realized that most businesses preserved their traditional means of production although there was some modification. Essentially, many businesses used their original methods, such as cheese and tie-dye productions, which did not involve in advanced machinery to spur the process, achieving mass production. On the other hand, some businesses conducted alteration of certain processes to either expand their potential of faster production or to turn them into more desirable profits, such as synthetic tie-dyes with modern designs that attract more customers by gratifying their expectations on traditional products. 

3. What expectations do you have towards the future of Xizhou?
Most villagers showed mixed feelings towards the notion of development. While they hoped the village could maintain its traditions, for most interviewees were a Bai minority, they envisioned a flourishing Xizhou with opportunities to share their culture and reveal their identities while also making a profit. Because most business people are relying on tourists to make income, it is evident that tourism will result in greater income and a higher life-quality. Albeit the consequences and repercussions, many prefer tourism to take place as it is inevitably a crucial part of their life now. 

Questions on Tourism / Development

4. What might be the benefits and disadvantages of Xizhou undergoing development?
Now that I have gained a thorough understanding that “development” is such a broad term, I cannot fully answer this question within the scope of my field research. Nonetheless, development as in change of tangible objects like architecture benefits the village by providing an ideal place for tourists to visit. There are also controversies claiming that the historical buildings resemble important events of history, such as propaganda messages and hints of vandalism during the years of the Cultural Revolution and the Great Leap Forward. These are precious remnants that are still vaguely visible but are prone to be damaged and erased in later years. Reckless and fast-paced development can potentially make serious impacts on Xizhou's history. 

5. How were the villagers influenced by economic growth from tourism? How about the developers and officials?
Once again, tourism helped businesses, especially restaurants to gain stability of income. Before the spurt of tourism, Sifangjie was a barren piece of land without any activity. However, restaurants started to open because there were opportunities to make a profit. As for developers and officials, I do not know their perspectives in much detail. However, I have learned that the government plans to invest more money to develop Xizhou as well as other small villages in China. They aim to fix roads and supply the village financially to preserve the Bai minority’s traditions. For instance, the Erhai Lake Policy indicates how much the government is motivated to make Xizhou an ideal place for tourism. 

6. How is tourism affecting the authenticity of the Bai minority?
Tourism is allowing the Bai minority to be reminded of their culture again. As Xizhou uses their culture to attract tourists, they feel proud to showcase their past to the rest of the world. They can constantly engage with their traditions and manage them in their own hands, which prevents the culture from diminishing. However, it is true that tourist needs and desires are urging an alteration that the locals themselves cannot fully take control. As tourist expectations are getting higher, there is a possibility of gradual change and replacement of “authenticity”. 

7. If there were struggles of going through development, what were they?
I did not focus on the aspect of development because I wanted to focus solely on tourism and the village’s future. However, I have heard that land usage was a problem to farmers and landowners because the government could take advantage of them. As a result, some people had trouble with sustaining their family since their greatest source of income was managed by the government. 

Questions on the Traditions of Xizhou

8. As being one of the ethnic minorities, is it important for the Bai people (Xizhou villagers) to maintain its purest form of traditions? How are traditions valued?
Traditions are valued because people feel connected to their past and feel a sense of pride. Nowadays, traditions are modified, such as tie-dyes that are changed to modern styles. Frankly, I think traditions are used more as a method to earn profit although it still receives respect. Traditions in businesses especially support people financially. Therefore, most Bai traditions are valued not only because people are mostly Bai minority but also because it brings so much difference and benefits to their lives in the modern day. 

9. Has there been any transformation in the culture? If so, how has the change impacted people's lives?
The culture has naturally transformed over time, but overall, the villagers seem to consider it as a natural change because tourism has played such a great role in their lives and most people are using traditions as a means to run their businesses. The transformation of culture does not significantly change people's lives, but they do affect the amount of tourist attractions. 

10. How do you view the Linden Centre? How has it affected the economy and culture?
The general consensus of the villagers I have spoken with is that the Linden Centre was a gateway for Xizhou to enter the tourism industry. They appreciate the activities, intentions, and efforts to preserve the area’s traditions and allow foreigners to experience the best of the culture. Some even mentioned that Mr. Linden is sometimes viewed as the “村长” of the village, proving that throughout the years, the Linden Centre has gained trust from the villagers through conducting friendly interactions. Currently, the Linden Centre has not directly influenced the economy of the village, but it has expanded its territories by bringing in guests not only from China but from foreign countries as well. The impact on the villagers' identity is crucial; it reinforces the existence of Bai culture in an existing form and especially appeals to tourists that want to further understand the town. This component gains the most appreciation from various audiences based on my interactions. 


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11. Jiajia. Personal interview conducted by Shiny H., 14 March 2018
12. Mrs. Li. Personal interview conducted by Shiny H., 15 March 2018 
13. Mr. Hu. Personal interview conducted by Shiny H., 15 March 2018
14. Mr. Sun. Personal interview conducted by Shiny H., 15 March 2018
15. Mrs. Fu. Personal interview conducted by Shiny H., 16 March 2018
16. Mrs. A-Ling. Personal interview conducted by Shiny H., 19 March 2018 
17. Ms. Yang. Personal interview conducted by Shiny H., 19 March 2018 

18. Mrs. Dong. Personal interview conducted by Shiny H., 20 March 2018 
19. Mrs. Zhao. Personal interview conducted by Shiny H., 20 March 2018 
20. Mrs. Linden. Personal interview conducted by Shiny H., 21 March 2018 
21. Mr. Linden. Personal interview conducted by Shiny H., 21 March 2018 
22. Lanxu. Personal observation conducted by Shiny H., 22 March 2018
23. Foreign Tourist. Personal interview conducted by Shiny H., 22 March 2018 
24. Mr. Zhao. Personal interview conducted by Shiny H., 22 March 2018 
25. Mr. Chen. Personal interview conducted by Shiny H., 26 March 2018
26. Mr. Dong. Personal interview conducted by Shiny H., 27 March 2018
27. Mrs. He. Personal interview conducted by Shiny H., 27 March 2018

With the information from teachers and local residents, I feel like I have fully inspected the different perspectives towards tourism in Xizhou. Not only that, I have also observed the town in action and gained a deeper understanding about the current situation of the flourishing tourism industry. In my next step, Phase 4, I will be planning an outline for my final product. 

I am fourteen years old and this is my 10th year in China. I have stayed in Xizhou for 28 days to learn about the unique historical background and culture of the Bai minority. My goal by the end of the trip was to develop into a stronger, open-minded individual. This opportunity provided me with different insights about China. I am glad I made this trip a valuable learning experience!