Phase 3: Interpreting Information

Updated 5 years 8 months ago

In Phase 3 I will be doing background research and interactive research in the village about my topic. I will be using the resources I found in Phase 2 to start asking questions and building knowledge. This is the information that I include in my final product, and it will take me in many different paths depending on the questions I ask and the answers I receive. This is where the real learning begins.

Background information and research

Body movements can sometimes take the place of speech. Some body language cannot be helped, such as showing disbelief by widening your eyes, and opening your mouth wider. Body language is primarily the movements your body uses to express how it feels. [1]

When greeting others, Chinese often nod politely or bow slightly. To beckon, they wave all fingers with the palm of the hand facing down. They point with an open hand rather than one finger. Chinese do not like to be touched by people they do not know. It is sometimes common for people to spit in public. [2]

Physical contact is common among people of the same genders. However in the business setting, physical contact is not approved among opposite sexes, however a handshake is acceptable. Silence is not always a negative signal. It is used as time to think. In a formal setting it is wise not to interrupt someone when they are speaking. Laughing and smiling can mean different things according to the situation you are in. Chinese women may smile or laugh when they are embarrassed. Laughing can often signal a person is uncomfortable. It can be impolite to point your feet at others, and shoes should never be used to touch anything. To point, you should use your entire hand instead of a finger. [4]

Linden Centre Web Site on the Bai- The Bai people are known as gifted singers and poets, and have made advances in science, astronomy, medicine, architecture, literature, and painting. Bai means "white", and the Bai people value this color. Women still wear white clothing with pastel accompaniments. The Bai take pride in their business and academic achievements. [5]

3 to 5s

In phase 2 I have a list of contacts to connect with about my topic. This is where I will store the information I receive during my 3 to 5s from my contacts.

Frank- Yunnan and Southern China are some of the less tourist-influenced parts of China. However, places like Lijiang and Dali are still heavily influenced by tourism. Many of the dances are even fake, and the costumes the women wear are no part of traditional Bai culture.

Mr. T- The Bai are the most Han-like minority, and are just like most other Chinese people. People expect the Bai to be primitive and wild, so the government is encouraging the locals to be more "traditional". People will not spend money to see normal people with nothing exotic to show.

Brian: Many people do not visit Yunnan for the culture; the men visit to see the beautiful women in tight dresses. Many people are also moving out of the City to the country, and they are bringing the city with them, destroying the local culture.

College Students: Dali old town has become a very touristic place, and there is no authentic culture yet. However, some elders still wear the hats, not for tourism, but because it is truly part of their culture. Tie Die is now specifically for tourism. Some "traditions" are made just for tourism, but temples are still truly cultural and not just for tourism. 

Feb: One good example of body language is when people hold a thumb above their heads to show that something is good.

Information from local contacts

Some of how the Bai are depicted in tourist representations are true, and some are not The hats the Bai women wear represent the wind, flowers, snow and moon. Before there were a lot of separations between the different ethnic groups, but now that things are more modern more people are dressing like a normal Han Chinese person. This was very recent. Mr. Duan has dresses like the Han since he grew up.[6] This information gave me some background information about tourism in Xizhou, and how Xizhou has developed through time.

What kind of people buy your products?

Most people buying these are tourists. All the products are local so the villagers see them everyday, and they are not’t special. Tourists travel 1-2 days to buy them.

Do you think Xizhou has been heavily affected by tourism?
Before the 1990s, Xizhou was not well known to tourists. I have run this shop for 10 years, and before she just had a table in SiFangJie. (So tourism has grown)

Are these pictures of women real representations of the Bai people?

The pictures of the women are from a long time ago. Since my childhood, people have begun dressing differently. She is at least 60 years old.

How is your life affected by tourism?

I was a farmer before, but in the 1990s she had to stop because her crop was infested, and she lost her income. Since then she sold small products. Her main income now comes from tourism, so she wants more people to know about Xizhou.

Where are some other shops for tourists?

Many food shops, like Baba shops, and antique shops. Baba shops earn more $ than her embroidery shop, because they sell for twice as much profit, but she only gets 1 Yuan in profit. [7] This information told me more about businesses in XiZhou and how tourism has affected life here.

Are the people who buy your products mostly tourists?

People are very interested in antiques and want to learn more about Chinese culture and history. About 65% of the people that buy from my shop are tourists, and the others are locals.

Were these produced originally created in Xizhou?

Long ago, local people traveled to the middle east because the history there is a longer history. The locals brought back some of the antiques there, and when people from the middle east came they also brought some things back. 40% of the antiques here are from the middle east and the rest are from Xizhou. 

Do you think Xizhou has been affected by tourism?

Because of tourists Xizhou has been affected culturally by different people.

How has your life been affected by tourism?

My life has been affected more or less by tourism, I opened my shop because I am interested in antiques, not for tourists. Antiques have a very long and interesting history. I have been open for more than 20 years.[8] This told me more about who buys from antique shops, and Mr. Li's view on tourism.

How is your life affected by tourists?

Many people from the Linden Center come to take classes at my shop, or see my paintings. However, I do not like being interrupted by these tourists because they disrupt my peaceful life.

Who buys your products? Is it mostly tourists?

Most of my paintings are sold to people at the Linden Center, and some of my friends collect calligraphy paintings so they buy from me. I do not like walk-in tourists that come in and look, then leave.

Where are some other places tourists go in Xizhou?

SiFangJie, lake Erhai, and the old houses here in Xizhou.[9] This information showed me how some people view tourism in Xizhou.

What do you think makes tourists come to Xizhou?

The blue sky, fresh air, and good environment, and secondly the people here are very friendly.

How has Xizhou been affected by tourism?

The tourists bring more business to Xizhou.

How has your life been affected by tourism?

People that come to Xizhou enjoy the village life, and they come to my shop for embroidery. They support my business.

Do mostly tourists buy your products, or do locals buy them?

Tourists come if they know about Meow minority embroidery, and they buy hand made ones because one day their value might be raised and the embroidery is not common in China. Locals buy the machine made ones to decorate their houses or to send for Birthdays.

Where are some other places tourists go in Xizhou?

They go to see old houses.[10] This gave me knowledge on why domestic tourists come to XiZhou, and what they might buy from Mrs. Jang.

What do you think makes Xizhou attract tourists?

There used to be a saying that went like, "Poor Dali, rich XiZhou", and Xizhou was rich because many famous people lived here that did good things. Also, the people here are very open because of the influence from the Han.

How has Xizhou been affected by tourism?

The most important person here is Mr. Linden because he opened the Linden Center which brings more guests to the area. Now this area is very famous in China.

How has your life been affected by tourism?

Tourists buy my products, so they affect me in a good way.

Is it mostly tourists that buy your products?

Both local people and tourists buy my antiques.

Did these antiques originate in Xizhou and are they of true Xizhou culture? Do they represent the Bai people?

These antiques are part of Buddhism so they are found everywhere in China.

Where are some other places tourists go in Xizhou?

People have different points of interest. Some people want to go to antique shops, some people want to go to Erhai lake to see the fishermen, and others go to old houses.[11]

Why did you come to Xizhou?

To visit Dali, and Xizhou was part of my trip. Xizhou is very famous.

We live in Yunnan so it is convenient to some here to XiZhou.

What are you visiting here in XiZhou?

The Yan's house and SiFangJie.

To see old houses and SiFangJie[12] This gave me different viewpoints on how XiZhou has been affected by tourism.

How has your life been affected by tourism?

Because I own an antique shop, before tourists began coming here our life was harder. Since more tourists have began coming to Xizhou our life has improved.

Were these antiques originally created by the Bai?

The things here come from many parts of China, and some are local.

Where do tourists like to go in XiZhou?

Tourists like to ride bikes to the lake to see the views there.[13] This gave me a new viewpoint on why tourists come to XiZhou

Why do tourists come to XiZhou?

Xizhou has a nice climate, and has an interesting culture with cool architecture.

How has Xizhou been affected by tourism?

The local economy has become better

Who buys your antiques? Is it mostly tourists?

People who have a hobby of collecting antiques will buy them. Tourists seldom buy the antiques, they just come and look around.[14]

What do you think makes tourists come to XiZhou?

The food here, such as Baba or the special noodles that are originally from Xizhou.

How has Xizhou been affected by tourism?

The economy has improved.

What traditions are made for tourists?

The XiZhou Baba festival

Which traditions are not for tourists

Torch Festival[15]This showed me that from a villager's point of view, people come to Xizhou to see natural beauty, not the fake traditional things.

Why do tourists visit Xizhou?

Xizhou is close to Dali, and people know about Dali from TV and many other reasons. Xizhou and Dali are famous in China because it is very peaceful here. To the west are the mountains, and to the East is lake Erhai. There is a saying in China that literally means "Mountains are beautiful, water is beautiful, and the people are beautiful." The people are very friendly and nice, and live a peaceful life.

Do you think people come to Xizhou to see people dressed up traditionally?

A reason people come here is to see the traditional Bai clothes, but now these clothes are something you can only see in hotels or museums so they can attract tourists. XiZhou is a very small village, but it is developed compared to other rural villages. When people come here they do not see people walking around in this clothing, they mainly just see this in hotels and tourist spots.

Was this clothing ever part of true Bai culture?

The Bai people seldom wear this type of thing, and because the Bai were influenced by the Han they really just wear cheaper, normal clothing. The clothing sold near SiFangJie is what people normally wear. The traditional clothing is now considered weird to wear outside.

When would people actually wear these clothes?

People would wear this clothing for performances, or tour guides would wear them.

What do you think about the pictures in the embroidery shops of the women not fully dressed?

People put these pictures and pieces of embroidery in their shops for tourists. If you give certain people a picture of this kind of thing, they do not really like it, nor do they want to hang it on their homes. However, other kinds of people will borrow money so they can have this sort of thing in their homes, and they like that.

How do you think XiZhou has been affected by this kind of tourism?

XiZhou has not been affected very much by tourism because...

How has tourism affected your life?

I own a yarn shop, so tourists do not affect my life very much. People just come here to buy yarn, so that is not very special for tourists.

Do the tourists bother you, or do you like them?

I am not bothered by tourists. It is like an exchange, we know about the outsiders and the tourists know about us. Before, Americans would never come to my house and I would never get to talk to them, but now I can have these conversations and it s very nice.[16] Mrs. Duan gave me her opinion on tourism, and gave me the idea that there are many shops in XiZhou that are not just for tourists, such as her yarn shop.

What percent of villagers buy from you versus tourists?

About 5% of my customers are native to XiZhou, and about 40-50% are from Kunming (domestic) and the other 45% are from Dali or XiaGuan and come here on day trips.

Do international tourists ever come here?

People from the Linden Center come here and buy things. They are most interested in the big pieces of tie-die. Local folks will buy the smaller items.

Why do you think different people buy different products?

Foreigners live in bigger homes so they need more decorations to fill up the space, so they buy more. Local people have smaller homes so they do not have as much room for decorations.

What do the domestic tourists buy?

The people from Dali and Kunming buy the clothing, or anything as long as it is bright and pretty.[17] I now know what different people look to buy, and what kind people buy different items.

The villagers will buy the small tie die blankets for the kids to use, and to carry the children around. The local kids sometimes also buy the wallets, or the minority clothing. There are a lot of local people selling these kinds of things, so not many locals buy them. More people from Kunming buy from me. There aren't very many foreigners that come, and they usually stay in Dali old town. There are lots of these types of shop there so they do not see anything new here.

*some people from Shanghai came in and began looking at and buying things

They asked her if the products on the wall were of true Bai culture, and she answered saying that of course they were, when really they all were not. They bought some wallets and a wall hanger. 

She has owned her embroidery shop for 8 years. She thinks the foreign tourists like the tie-die. The foreigners like the simpler appearances things versus the brighter things. For example, the tie-dies and plain fabrics. The domestic tourists like the bright colors, so those are more appealing to them.

People are more liberated and open now (after 2007), and now people are more open-minded towards things like the pictures and embroideries of women with no clothes on. It is the younger people that are in their twenties and thirties that buy these. Both locals and tourists buy these. The younger people also like the bracelets, earrings, wallets, and handbags. The older people prefer the window coverings and decorations. The younger people don't care so much for the antiques. The people that mostly buy the antiques are antique dealers, because they will buy them for a cheaper about than they will sell them. Normal people do not like to buy them so much because they are worried they aren't authentic or that they aren't paying a good price for them. They do not have enough knowledge to know if they should buy them or not. She wants to have a good reputation and doesn't like to rip anybody off, therefore she sets a reasonable price.[7] This information gave me a realistic idea of what types of people buy from these shops, and what they buy.


[1] Britannica Middle school- Language/ Body movement

[2] Culture Grams- China

[3] Britannica Image Quest (Picture)


[5] Linden centre[6]Mr. Duan, personal interview conducted by Taylor F., 30 January 2014

[6]Mr. Duan, personal interview conducted by Taylor F., 30 January 2014

[7]Mrs. Xu, personal interview conducted by Taylor F., 3 & 11 February 2014 (Tie Die and Embroidery)

[8]Mr. Li, personal interview conducted by Taylor F., 3 February 2014 (Antiques)

[9]Mr. Wu, personal interview conducted by Taylor F., 4 February 2014 (Caligraphy)

[10]Mrs. Jang, personal interview conducted by Taylor F., 4 February 2014 (Meow Embroidery)

[11]Mr. Jang, personal interview conducted by Taylor F., 4 February 2014 (Antiques)

[12] Tourists in SiFangJie, 5 February 2014

[13]Mrs. Ma, personal interview conducted by Taylor F., 5 February 2014 (Antiques)

[14] Mr. Yang, personal interview conducted by Taylor F., 5 February 2014 (Antiques)

[15] Girl at corner store in SiFangJie, personal interview conducted by Taylor F., 5 February 2014

[16]Mrs. Duan, personal interview conducted by Taylor F., 6 February 2014

Now I am ready to move on to Phase 4, where I will begin looking at ideas for my project. I will be looking at other examples, and looking at creative ways to share my project.


Hi Taylor,

Hi Taylor,

What an interesting topic to be researching. How do you feel about the subject's responses to growing tourism in Xizhou? What role do you think you (and the rest of the Fearless group) play in that relationship with growing tourism?

Happy that you are having a fantastic time and finished the hike!

Take care,
Ms. Bui

My name is Taylor, and I'm 13 years old. I was born in South Africa, have lived in Georgia most of my life, and moved to Shanghai at the beginning of 7th grade. My hobbies include swimming, volleyball, softball, and playing the viola. Microcampus changed me as a person, and I learned so much from this experience. I hope to one day return to XiZhou and to again enjoy the fresh air, friendly people, and delicious food. This was a month I will never forget.