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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Yuan Yang

The engravement of land in spectacular rice terraces, a feat of ancient agriculture engineering over 1,300 years old. Terraces folded in and out of deep valleys, some of 3,000 layered terraces extend upwards from valleys floor, mirrored stairway to the heaven. Winter, before rice sprout, the water on the rice terraces reflects the sky, cloud and even stars in an ever changing array of colour- this is Yuan Yang, a reflection of heaven.

The creation of rice terrace is a melody of art, the intelligence of water diversion gives hope to life of the secluded valleys. Over years and decades of will and way, the masterpiece of sculptured valleys completed, yielded for self sustain staple food, and created a wonder of magical sight. As soon as the discovery of Yuan Yang, it lured photographers from around the world for decades, the global exposure made the rice terraces became China's 45th UNESCO World Heritage Site on June 22nd, 2013.

Fame Overwhelmed
Yuan Yang might be undergoing the fate of "Disneyfication". I'm afraid it already happening, during my visit to Yuan Yang in December 2013, locals complained about the Government's "re-package" plans- relocation of local tribes to secluded valleys, replacing the town with Central Districts, selling of rice terraces for business purpose...

Culture vs Branding
The intensity of a simulated experience, culture and branding both, work against each other. Stripping away the original character of a particular destination and repackaging in a sanitized and tourist friendly format. The prestige of UNESCO listing might make small town like Yuan Yang suffocated, soon the aspect come into play in rents, prices rise through the roof, forcing out businesses other than those in tourism. The culture will diminish, diluted by mass tourism. It's not easy to keep their values with the dollars flowing in, people will align their decision in this direction. The younger generation of farmer is leaving their rice terraces for a better fortune, what's next for the sculptured valleys?

Fate of great sight world? Short term gain, long term pain.

[Yuan Yang trip led by Steve Chong, check here for his upcoming events.]
++Shot on Nikon D700 + Nikkor 20mm f2.8, Nikkor 50mm f1.2 and Sigma 150mm f2.8++

Drifted like clouds, across these beautiful lands, this is an unfathomable journey and an endless scroll of awesomeness! #yuanyang #yunnan


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