The Stone Forest tears a big hole in my budget. First, I decide not to visit it at all. But meeting N. makes a trip out of the city seem possible. I decide against my initial gut feeling and am ultimately convinced by the beautiful photos. It's one of the excursions that I bitterly regret. China is a stronghold of controlled tourism. Everything is organised, everywhere you have to pay unwanted fees, buy the ticket in places that are miles away and in the end you get a Disneyland experience.
The Stone Forest is a charming place that has a long history and great importance for the minorities living there. This was once a spiritual site, and the thought of what this must have been once is heartbreaking. Today, rafts with musicians on them are chugging around on the artificial lakes. Just like in Disneyland people earn their daily bread in costumes. However, these are not random Chinese, but the so-called minorities, who present their culture for the pleasure of Chinese and international tourists. A culture that has long faded.
Everywhere in China and in the world, cultures are dying. The youth seek their happiness far from ritualised and hollow traditions. It's sad, but tourism won't bring change. If these cultures are still alive and vibrant, tourism can be a lifeline of support. When they are no longer lived, it's a spectacle, a farce. It makes me angry when I am forced to spend money to be essentially lied to. That's tourism in China. And so I vow to seek my luck far away from the tourist routes. I'm preparing for three weeks in Jinghong. For China, it's a village. For me, it's as big as my hometown and thus, just the right size.
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