in the deep east of Yunnan Province, Xishuangbanna is
famous for its mysterious tropical rainforests and minority
customs. Close to the Burmese and Lao borders, this
is an area of China that few travelers afford themselves
the time to see. A trip down here, while time consuming
and at times, difficult, is well worth the effort however
and it is not hard to see why this area in the local
language, is known as "an ideal and mysterious
Xishuangbanna is the only
tropical rainforest nature reserve
zone in China. The climate is warm
and wet here, ideal for nurturing
some wonderful plants and flora and
home to unusual wildlife. Old trees
reach into the skies here, vines twist
and gnarl together and in the evening,
a thick fog spreads across the region,
bringing with it an air of mystery
Since the Qing Dynasty,
western adventurers have journeyed
here seeking rich biological treasures
and for a while, the region's fame
as a natural paradise was as well
known as that of the Amazon. In the
long term however, the disadvantages
of this reputation have become clear.
Many rare species of plant and animal
have been plundered, destroyed or
made extinct, as adventurers seek
to take away a little piece of Xishuangbanna.
What remains exciting
and fascinating however, are the people
here. Daizu people have lived on this
strangely habitable land for generations.
The distinctive natural environment
here renders unusual customs and traditions.
All over the region, even today, Dai
houses can be seen.
bamboo structures raised on stilts keep away floods
and dangerous animals, allowing many people to inhabit
one house safely, and often house all their animals
too! Hunting is still the main income, in conjunction
with farming. In terms of culture, the Dai people dress
in spectacular colors and furs, and dance and song are
popular ways to pass the time.
Due largely to the region's
proximity to Burma and Thailand, Buddhism
is the predominant religion here.
Temples and pagodas with a Southeast
Asian flavor are dotted about the
countryside and towns, and monks,
especially young male trainee boys,
are a common sight, clothed in traditional
orange costume, often riding motorbikes
to the temple!
Sandbar in Manghan
Tropical Rain Forest
Plant Research Institute