BootsnAll Travel Network

Archive for the 'Minority Groups' Category

« Home

Last Days In Jinghong

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

Joe, a gregarious Dai tour guide who hangs out at the tourist haunts looking for business invited me to join him and his family and friends, including a young French couple, at the new BBQ restaurants on the road along the river…the ones we couldn’t find before. His English was great and we shared many ideas. “My heart is breaking with the pollution in the environment,” he said. I told him about Amy’s International School and it’s mission to bring east and west together. Not against each other, he asked? No I said, entwining my fingers. Together. He liked that, as he entwined his own fingers. I told him he had one foot in each culture. He liked that too. Then he wrote a C on one shoe and a W on the other shoe as we laughed.

It is the Spring Festival here and fireworks are going off everywhere. Over 20-40 small dishes (river snails, cow’s skin, river moss and the like) we raised small glasses of beer too many times to shouted toasts…first among ourselves (we women toasted to our beauty…!) and then with a group of about 20 Anhi teachers sitting at the next table.

The next day a German woman and her son, who is getting an advanced degree in business in Hangzhou (SW of Shanghai), invited me to go with them to a small village on the other side of the Mekong River by ferry and then tuk tuk. She is here, like me, visiting her progeny. Her son has been here three years and is fluent in Mandarin…as are many of the Westerners I’ve met here. A group of American high school girls here in Jinghong on break from on a one year exchange program in Beijing to learn Mandarin amazed me with their ability to speak the language…their futures will be bright with opportunities.

I will be glad to leave the An Ya Jiu Dian Hotel, however. It is newer…clean and very nice with satellite TV and a hot and cold water cooler for about $7…and friendly owners. It’s just up the street from the western-oriented Mei Mei Restaurant on Man Lan Lu. But there is a restaurant down an ally behind the hotel…outside my window…that starts up about midnight…with many shouted toasts…and finally subsides about 3am. Ear plugs only take the edge off.

No lack of internet cafes on this street!

And I won’t miss the Asian toilet, if you know what I mean. The shower head is above the open-hole toilet in the floor so one must be very careful where one steps.

Just Hanging Out

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

Yesterday an older woman from Ireland and I tried to find the Night Market at the end of the bridge over the Mekong River where you used to be able to get great BBQ meat cooked over coal fires. Not found.

Of the many uninterested Chinese we stopped along the way to get information, a young strolling couple with a few words of English helped us. The man called his old English teacher from school on his cell phone so we could explain what we were looking for. But after my simplified request, she kept asking “what do you want” obviously not understanding me. And she was his English teacher, I thought!

Finally we gave up the idea of the Night Market when they said “follow us.” They took us to an open-air shack near the new beautifully lit bridge. In the “kitchen” we pointed to a few vegetables and some pork. In a matter of seconds we were feasting…on delicious food so full of flavor but probably loaded with MSG. Turns out the woman is a doctor at the local hospital but her husband said he “lost his job” at the same hospital. I was curious as to why he “lost” his job but didn’t want to pry. She was six months pregnant. “I want a boy,” her husband said. Knowing the Chinese can pay a fine for a second child I asked how many children they intended to have. “I only need one,” she said with finality!

Later, back at the Mei Mei Cafe where foreigners hang out, a 45 year old good-looking adventure-hooked guy from Belgium who has lived here several years regaled us with stories…many of them dealing with corruption. For example, a few years ago he, through his girlfriend, rented a building to remodel for a cafe. He signed a contract for the rental for five years. But after two years he was informed by the police they were tearing down the building for a big high-rise. So he lost his investment. A contract in China means nothing, he said.

The Night Market is no longer, he says. The Chinese are glad to be rid of it…having been full of prostitution and the drugs coming in from nearby Burma.

Then we discussed the latest biography simply entitled “Mao” that is banned in China. “Yes,” he said, I have it locked up in my room!” “My god,” he said, “if only 5% of it is true…!” We talked about “The Coming Collapse of China” written by a Chinese Professor at an American university which I had mischievously passed on to a Swiss girl studying Chinese economics in Shanghai on my last trip to China a couple years ago. Steven agreed with the tenuous situation in China where the dangerous rate of growth of the GDP can’t continue indefinitely. But the book was written when Deng (who said it was “glorious to be rich”) was President. President Hu, Steven says, is trying to help China avoid a crisis.

Steven, the Belgian, is planning on taking his Dai girlfriend of three years to Belgium for a 12 week visit. He said he could hardly wait to see her eyes! Getting her a tourist visa will be very tedious because so many Chinese try to get into Europe using falsely filled out papers. “They all lie because all Chinese want out of China,” he said. Besides the bureaucratic red tape, they will have to travel to Guangzhou for an interview at the Belgian Embassy. She will only be able to visit with a “Schengen” visa while there. (If you don’t know, the Schengen countries are the ones in Europe (I think there are four) who no longer recognize borders.

Then we talked about the attitude of the dominant Han Chinese toward the ethnic “minorities” as the ethnic groups are called. About one third of the 800,000 people of this region are Dai. Another third are Han Chinese and the rest includes the Hani, Lisu and Yao as well as lesser-known hill tribes such as the Aini, Jinuo, Bulang, Lahu and Wa. These beautiful friendly self-sufficient intelligent people, who live in the mountains with views that Californians would kill for, have historically been viciously discriminated against and the attitude of the Han is that they are dirty and stupid. Consequently the minorities are turning against their own cultures…so Steven has been teaching his Dai girlfriend, Orchid, about her Dai history and origins including that fact that many years ago the huge Dai army once defeated the encroaching Han dynasties. Ironic that it takes a western foreigner to counsel his culturally bifurcated girlfriend. The 37 year old Orchid, who owns and manages the Mei Mei Cafe, is certainly not stupid. Also ironic that since China has discovered that Western tourists are interested in seeing the minorities, it is starting to help promote their welfare as a source of tourism.

With my Irish friend off to Dali, I had breakfast this morning with a lovely woman from Holland who has traveled all over Indonesia. Hmmm. Think Sumatra may be next after Thailand. This is a good time to visit there, she said, as it is not the rainy season. Good! We had a long discussion about China. We agreed that one does not “like” China so much as one finds it incredibly interesting!

Other travelers can be just as enlightening as the country one is visiting…

Update on Living In Oaxaca

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2006
I have almost finished my application for a Mexican FM3 year-long visa. Forms have to be filled out exactly right...with copies...and money paid to a bank. About $200 for the visa and another $40 for them to examine ... [Continue reading this entry]

Tha Ton Thailand

Wednesday, March 29th, 2006
gatQye8keZlS3vpnwrOvxg-2006186163905868.gif Supuat drove me to Tha Tan...right on the Thai-Burma border directly north of Chiang Mai to see several minority groups, Lisu, Lahu, Akha and Longnecks, that live there. Last year in southern Yunnan China, ... [Continue reading this entry]

Faithful Tuk Tuk Driver

Saturday, March 25th, 2006
eWCBF9KYWi73omUCUHRffw-2006185115650300.gif Nice to have someone faithful to me. I trust Supoat, in his 50's, with soft face and warm bright eyes. I call him when I need him to drive me somewhere in ... [Continue reading this entry]

Museum Of Natural History

Thursday, December 1st, 2005
When we were in southern China last year we spent some time hiking and driving through parts of mountainous Yunnan Province that are populated primarily with, not Han Chinese, but with "minorities." (Their word.) So when I saw that ... [Continue reading this entry]

Trekking Northern Thailand

Saturday, April 2nd, 2005
gatQye8keZlS3vpnwrOvxg-2006186163905868.gif As soon as we returned to Bangkok from Bali Bob took a train to Chiang Mai for a trek in northern Thailand near Mae Son Hong. I stayed in Bangkok to have some ... [Continue reading this entry]

Miao Village In Guizhou

Wednesday, December 8th, 2004
1wXSp3CkNsDoJl3s0SgHmw-2006171171225701.gif In Shanghai, exploring the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree web site, I noticed a query from a young woman from Kaili in Guizhou Province who was offering to arrange a homestay in a Miao minority ... [Continue reading this entry]

Hanging Out On Olkhon Island

Sunday, September 26th, 2004
Urr0g6ZfQ7ttYL19duYJfg-2006170133924757.gif After hanging out a couple days...glad to be off the train...Gregory, a former University teacher of German, drove Bob and I, three Germans and a Pole on a half-day excursion to the north of ... [Continue reading this entry]

Traki, Karaites & Kibini Pastry

Sunday, September 5th, 2004
Trakai, on the outskirts of Vilnius, Lithuania, is a small settlement placed in the middle of five large lakes that is home to about 350 members of the Keraites, a minority community originally from Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) who later ... [Continue reading this entry]

I’m A Gypsy?

Monday, August 23rd, 2004
NikaFEAe66TwIiJDaeZZ7w-2006198180634090.gif Back in Prague, doors open...a gypsy girl sits down beside me at a bus stop...flirting...wanting me to listen to lively music in her cell phone. I smile and she is encouraged...she smiles widely...waving ... [Continue reading this entry]

Bob’s Thai Village Visit

Saturday, December 28th, 2002
While Jana and I were playing with Chinese teenagers in Ruili in the south of Yunnan, Bob spent some time in an ethnic village in the mountains in Issan Province southeast of Chiang Mai in Thailand. The people were Thai ... [Continue reading this entry]

Conversations In Tiger Leaping Gorge

Saturday, December 14th, 2002
jWLtBzsBGHTUmbHjYHypj0-2006185073225366.gif Wednesday Dec 11 In Old Town Lijiang, Bob joined us for breakfast at our hotel at 9am; met Li at her hotel at 10:30 for minibus trip up the gorge. Bus had no shocks ... [Continue reading this entry]

Echo & Li…Competitors

Tuesday, December 10th, 2002
jWLtBzsBGHTUmbHjYHypj0-2006185073225366.gif Monday Dec 9 2002 In Old Town Lijiang, we are woken up by a knock at the hotel door at 8am. Two couples from Taiwan were on their way to Zhondian with a driver ... [Continue reading this entry]

Zhondian to Baishuitai

Friday, December 6th, 2002
jWLtBzsBGHTUmbHjYHypj0-2006185073225366.gif Friday Dec 6 2002 There were no street lights so we walked the equivalent of several blocks to the Zhongdian bus station in the dark to catch the 7:50am bus for Baishuitai. While waiting for ... [Continue reading this entry]

Zhondian aka Shangri-La

Thursday, December 5th, 2002
YUqE3FCf1Hd9CjfG1qqmt0-2006171132705308.gif Bob took a flight south from Kunming to Mangshi and then on by bus to Ruili near the Burma border. Jana and I left Kunming on a Yunnan Airlines flight to the village of Zhongdian, ... [Continue reading this entry]

China’s Secrets I Will Never Know

Wednesday, November 20th, 2002
S2bYNL6zJRrgaMn9LtR9tg-2006170195030775.gif Major Cities We Visited "The opening up of China is a stirring idea," Lonely Planet says. A foreigner traveling alone today is privileged to see more of China than almost any Chinese has seen ... [Continue reading this entry]

Animal Spotting The Big 5 In The Sarengeti

Thursday, May 9th, 2002
I love the remnants of the Swahili cadence in Victor's English. Giraffe: "It is raining and he is very happy there-he is getting a shower." Bob watching elephants: "This makes you feel badly there are zoos. Topi: lives up to 20 ... [Continue reading this entry]

Maasai Warrior Tribe

Wednesday, May 8th, 2002
Jumping3.JPG Masaaiposing3.JPG Beautiful tall Masaii men and women still maintain their tribal lifestyle and religion-wearing red to keep the lions away from their cows. They live in southern Kenya and ... [Continue reading this entry]