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YUNNAN

TOURISM AND CULTURAL PRESERVATION

AUTHOR: KE ZHANG, CHENYU LIN
PROOFREAD: KE ZHANG


Yunnan, referred to as "Yun" or "Dian" for short, is one of the 23 provinces in my country. Yunnan is the province with the most ethnic groups in my country, with 25 ethnic minorities, but not an autonomous region. Yunnan is located in the southwest of China and is connected to Tibet, Sichuan, Guangxi and Guizhou. Yunnan is located on the border and is one of the provinces with the longest border in China.

Yunnan, often as a popular choice for tourism in China, is a place that many people yearn for. People say that it has beautiful natural scenery, including tropical rain forests, snow-capped plateaus, Cangshan Mountains, and Erhai Lake. It is full of many mysterious colors and is fascinating.

We are all looking forward to the next economic-led urban and architectural paradigm reform after Postmodernism, modernism, and deconstructivism. This article will discuss the different feelings brought to people by the living environment of artificial landscaping and uncarved natural scenery, and the possible future reasonable development. This article takes Yunnan as an example, accompanied by interviews with tourists from Yunnan, to describe the phenomenon of modular development of ethnic regional culture and urbanization in China, a developing country at this stage.

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Yunnan
Photo: Yaqin Ruan

KUNMING AND LIJIANG
​REPRESENTATIVES OF "CULTURE" COMPOSED OF COUNTLESS "MAN-MADE ANCIENT ARCHITECTURE"

Yunnan has long been a major tourist province in China, with famous scenic spots such as the Old Town of Lijiang, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, Cangshan Erhai Lake, and Meili Snow Mountain. In 2020 alone, Yunnan will receive 529 million tourists, of which Kunming, a major tourist city in Yunnan Province, will receive 529 million tourists in 2021. In the first half of the year, the GDP reached 362.037 billion yuan, of which tourism accounted for 100.136 billion yuan (data source: Xinhuanet).

 

In Kunming and Lijiang, highly commercialized "man-made ancient cities" can be seen everywhere. There are traces of modern artificiality everywhere in the ancient town, such as commemorative commodities sold uniformly across the country, or finely decorated homestays. Such an atmosphere will provide a convenient, fast, and easy-to-check travel experience for tourists who come to travel to check in. However, for new youth or scholars who want to experience the unique local folk culture, it is indeed a very boring and noisy experience, because they cannot distinguish the unique history belonging to the local area from such a complicated artificial tourism environment.

 

"Kunming is the capital city of the province, so in fact, many scenic spots are developed to a great extent, which will make people feel the convergence of tourist city development, such as ancient streets and souvenir shops that look alike. I actually only stayed in Lijiang. One and a half days, I went to an ancient street. But the same problem, the commercial nature is very strong, and the one-day itinerary did not make me feel the special of Lijiang."

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Yunnan
Photo: Wantong Yao

SHANGRI-LA AND LUGU LAKE
- ANOTHER POSSIBILITY

Fortunately, although Kunming and Lijiang are highly developed and have lost their unique local culture, Lugu Lake and Shangri-La show us another possibility for the common development of culture and tourism.

 

"Lugu Lake is more original and retains the original appearance of the natural environment. Although Shangri-La is famous, it is not a deeply developed tourist city, so when you experience the local customs, you can still experience the roughness of the city. The polished side will not be stereotyped and commercialized like Kunming and Lijiang.”

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Lugu Lake
Photo: Wantong Yao

Lugu Lake and Shangri-La are scenic spots in Yunnan Province that are far less developed than the city centers of Kunming and Lijiang. In these two places, there is a lot less commercial tourism construction, but most of the traditional dwellings and natural customs are preserved.

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Yunnan
Photo: Yaqin Ruan

YUNNAN:
UNIQUE SOCIAL AND NATURAL ENVIRONMENT

In the current social environment, the development of income generation and urbanization has become the direction encouraged by most developing countries led by China. Due to the uniqueness of Yunnan: the population composed of many ethnic minorities is unstable, the Golden Triangle requires universal quality education to avoid the danger of drug circulation, and it needs to vigorously develop the economy as there are a lot of poor people. But in the process, a lot of the unique culture and tranquility that was once rooted in this land has also been lost. Many scholars and tourists have pointed out that the development of tourism in Yunnan should not be a monolithic ancient town that caters to the aesthetics of mass tourists, but should be combined with its own cultural development to attract visitors who can understand the local culture. However, given the current situation and Yunnan's unique geographical environment and huge population, such an idea may be too idealistic.

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Yunnan
Photo: Yaqin Ruan

1. GDP of Yunnan, http://www.km.gov.cn, Retrieved 02 Febrary 2022.
2. Interview of Trousists, https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/GzI90RIX_loQkE2tZ1YSFQ, Retrieved 02 Febrary 2022.