Posts Tagged With: authenticity

My Thoughts on Interactions with Foreign Journalists in the Field

During the month with the documentary team, I encountered three separate foreign journalists coming to the lake to write an article about the Mosuo. The first was a Swedish woman (and a male friend) writing for a Swedish Women’s Magazine. She saw a documentary about the Mosuo and wrote a pitch that got accepted by the editor. When she organized the trip, she then contacted me and the documentary beforehand to see if we could meet up and introduce her to the local community. I was enthusiastic to help. I was excited to hear someone was interested in writing about the Mosuo people and their culture. During our last week filming, she met us at the hostel we were staying at. She asked if we wanted to join her to the local hot springs to interview a woman that’s working towards preserving Mosuo traditional culture by running an art workshop. She did not speak Chinese, so we would be her translators. Though we were busy in our final week of filming, we put this trip into consideration.

She also asked if one of us could help her conduct an interview with a Mosuo woman. My friend, Zhouyang, had come back from Lijiang the other day to look into running his own guesthouse and had been visiting a Mosuo household outside of Lige. I planned to join him again that night to get to know the family more. I invited the Swedish journalist. The three of us visited the home in the late afternoon to interview the oldest sister. She invited us in and sat us in front of the house temple. She brought with her a woven basket filled with carmel popcorn balls and rice crackers and sat down with the two of us. Zhouyang had gone exploring to check out the property.

The Swedish woman began with broad questions that I translated: “Can you explain Mosuo culture to me?” “How are woman powerful in this society?” and then became more specific: “Are you the matriarch of this household?” “Were you children born through a ‘walking marriage?'” “Do you want your sons to have ‘walking marriages?'” The Mosuo woman responded honestly, but did not give long, in-depth answers. Some questions she didn’t know how to respond. This is a problem that has popped up for me and the documentary team as well. The local men normally have more interesting opinions compared to the women. I don’t really know why. I was enjoying the conversation, but I noticed the journalist seemed disappointed. I realized it was because she was not content with the woman’s answers.

I thought about it and soon figured out why…the woman was not saying the “right” answers:

  1. The Mosuo woman was not the matriarch of the household, rather it was her brother. She said she didn’t want to be because of all the responsibilities.
  2. She didn’t mind if her sons married, it would bring a young woman into the household, which the family lacked.
  3. She didn’t know how to describe her culture
  4. Tourism is good. It had brought only good to the town.

After these answers, the journalist was obviously not happy. Although, there were two points when she gave out an excited, high-pitched “Ooooh?” That was when the Mosuo woman answered with:

  1. They were born out of walking marriages.
  2. Women have the final say in decisions

At the end of the interview, I felt like I learned a lot about this household and gained one more opinion about tourism from a local. However, she was not happy with the interview. I was a bit irritated by her reaction because she was seeking answers, instead of keeping an open mind. She had watched a documentary before coming to Lugu Lake that described the area as the “Kingdom of Women.” Her expectations were stubbornly set and she seemed to not accept my explanations of how the society has changed. With this way of thinking, she would not be depicting modern Mosuo life, rather just adding to the hundreds of other articles that talk about the same things: “walking marriage,” matriarchal families and primitivity. She would be using another orientalistic perspective to create a difference gap between the reader and Mosuo culture. When I realized I was contributing to an article that would give a false depiction of their contemporary society, I immediately regretted helping her. I do not want to help her write an article that I would not be proud of. We left the house and walked back to Lige village. I decided I would not help her any further.

It doesn’t end there…

The next day, a German journalist and his team approached me and the documentary team while we were eating lunch. They asked if any of us spoke Chinese and could be a translator. The guys said that I was their perfect (wo)man, but I first asked more about their project. Turned out the team was sponsored by German Playboy to write an article about Mosuo culture. Of course, the moment I heard Playboy, I became very suspicious, but to be honest, also a bit amused. I talked it over with the guys, and they said that Playboy does write well-thought out articles. I first jokingly asked how they knew, but then thought over about what they said. I decided I would give the Playboy journalists a chance.

We met the next night where I asked what his pitch was to Playboy. He said, “So, I’ve read that Lugu Lake is the ‘Kingdom of Women,’ but I’m here to see if Lugu Lake is also a ‘Paradise for Men.” My stomach suddenly dropped. I responded with a hesitant laugh. “Oh, yeah?” The documentary team and I both agreed that it definitely is not. Though there is “walking marriage,” this does not mean this place is the land of one-night stands and one can have multiple partners. At that moment, I did not regret helping them because I thought I could show them it’s not true. They seemed like smart guys and would use this truth as a way to make an interesting, in-depth article. Not sure if it played out that like though…

We sat with my friends, local youth. Their first question that I translated was: “Do you have ‘walking marriages’ now?” In this culture, talking about “walking marriage” with both sexes present is taboo, but my friends were open-minded and responded to such questions indirectly. Then they asked: “Do you have multiple partners?” Two of my friends became heated by this question because they get it all the time. The media portrays Lugu Lake as a place where one can get laid. This Playboy team also got disillusioned by these false portrayals of Mosuo culture, which they told me they read on the internet (of course). The entire table said they had never simultaneously had multiple partners and that one has to breakup first before pursuing another lover. The German journalist’s facial expression showed he was not content with these answers.

He responded that a driver that drove them around the area that day said he had over 30 partners in his lifetime. The man was in his thirties, they said. I translated this to the locals, who then scoffed: “And they believed him? All those drivers are liars just to excite tourists.” The journalist had a hard time believing who was telling the truth, but I could tell he wanted the driver to be right…that would work well into his article. My local friends wanted me “to talk sense” to these guys, which I tried by translating exactly what they were all saying. I hope this conversation with locals made them think over their pitch and how it could be changed to depict Mosuo culture in a more accurate light. There are already enough articles out there that sexualize their culture–why add another one into the plethora? This also leads to an ethical question: Should they accurately describe Mosuo culture, or should they write an article that would sexually excite their intended audience? I fear they will choose the latter.

Through these two negative experiences, I unfortunately am more suspicious of journalists. I understand they already made a pitch and need to follow it to get paid, but to what costs? They get money, but how about the local community that gets inaccurately depicted? These journalists were only at the lake for 3 days to a week. How can one even write an in-depth article in such little time? I’m going to avoid working with journalists from now on unless they intend to stay in the lake for an extended period of time or have actually researched Mosuo culture well beforehand.

[I never did read their finished articles. This is just my experience while helping these journalists and my thoughts afterwards. Maybe they did make interesting articles, but at the time their potential was not apparent. Please feel free to comment! I would love to hear other opinions, especially from journalists out in the field.]

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Exploring Lijiang and Suhe Ancient Cities: A Comparative Analysis on Popular Tourism Locations–with Lugu Lake Area as Example

I decided to spend two days and one night in Lijiang this time around before returning back home to Kunming. I have a good friend that works in a guest house in the ancient city, so I used his hotel as a home base. I arrived in Lijiang at around 5pm after the 4-5 hour bus ride from Lugu Lake. I explored the ancient city by first dropping off something at a friend’s restaurant and then looking for my friend’s guest house. Lijiang Ancient City could be called the exact opposite…a decade before an earthquake destroyed much of the city, which was then rebuilt into a cosmopolitan outdoor mall encased in traditional Chinese architecture.
Revamped Ancient City
What Lijiang was before, which I never witnessed, is no longer. It is now a place filled with hostels, guesthouses, hotels, shops, street vendors, and crowds upon crowds of tourists. Lijiang was established as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999, which I find somewhat ironic. It seems like enacting that did the exact opposite of its intentions–preserve. Even the people who live in Lijiang and work in the ancient city agree. The culture has been “broken,” and not maintained well.
Main Gate into Ancient City–UNESCO World Heritage Site
Then the next question is: How do you preserve a culture in the first place? That’s where my research comes in. I think the simplest answer is to not develop tourism and invite tourists to the area. Isolation is preservation’s best solution. But, in this time of age, that is not entirely acceptable. Tourism also builds an area’s standard of living, improves the education system, and opens new opportunities for the local population. These benefits are often desired by the local population.
While talking to my Mosuo friend in Lige, Lugu Lake, he said: “when tourism comes in, it destroys the culture. That’s what Chinese tourism is…it takes something beautiful and exploits it, destroys it.” Though what he said is extreme, there is truth in it. I think Lijiang is a perfect example–It’s arguable to say that Lugu Lake is on its way to becoming the next example, especially after the completion of the airport.
Lijiang is a commercialized tourism spot. It’s primary purpose is for the visitors to buy, buy, buy. They also have the opportunity to “study” Naxi traditional culture, but the tour guides bring them to newly renovated or fake Naxi cultural relics in the ancient town. To see Naxi culture nowadays, one must leave Lijiang. The ancient city is for the commercial tourist. One that prefers comfort. The same can be said for Suhe, which is about a 20-30 minutes car ride away from Lijiang Ancient City.
Suhe Ancient City
Though Lugu Lake is becoming more and more commercialized each year with shops, hotels, and restaurants, the distance and rough transportation has slowed rapid tourism development. The signs of commercial tourism is evident in Lugu Lake though. Money is becoming more important than it ever was before–making a lot of money is now a part of many locals’ life goals. I witnessed this when I wanted to use a bathroom in a museum, but the people said, quite rudely, that I needed to pay the door fee–28 yuan–first. This happens all around the lake now, and the locals are aware of it too.
Why does this happen in the first place? I think it breathes from the Chinese tourism system. The Chinese tourism development patterns primarily emphasize on commercialization and profit, instead of considering cultural preservation to fit into the process. Therefore this profit-driving force becomes the center in tourism development, which then inflicts the mindset of the local population. In addition to this, locals often don’t have a say in tourism matters, instead the local government is given the most authority. This becomes an issue because the minorities are usually underrepresented in their own local governments, most positions are hosted by the Han majority. Thus, making money becomes contentious between local businesses and outside investors. An example of this happened just recently in Lugu Lake where a Han outside investor and his wife were hospitalized due to locals getting angry over being cheated by signing a 17-year long contract. The Mosuo are new to business and are not familiar with the harsh realities that it brings. Violence is not the answer though.
Going to Lijiang and seeing a place that lives off making money makes me wonder when Lugu Lake will turn into something like this…5 years?
Suhe Commercialized Ancient City
Also, coming back from remote LJZ to Lijiang gives me the feeling that I’m in two completely different countries. No electricity, no phone signal, no restaurants, no Internet, no shops, just kind people, their farms and animals, and their homes. I find LJZ more worthwhile than Lijiang. I meet with locals, live in their homes, eat with them, and participate in their everyday lives. But somehow, Lijiang is a popular tourist spot. I think this lights on the difference between Chinese and Western tourists. This form of tourism has been widely accepted by the Chinese population because its the only form of tourism they have encountered…they view these cosmopolitan tourism spots as the best form of travel. Tourism in China is still a fairly new phenomenon beginning in the mid-1980’s. There hasn’t been much time for the majority of Chinese tourists to experience different forms of tourism (ecotourism, volunteer tourism, backpacking, etc.) (I’m of course generalizing, not all Chinese tourists are like this, but it’s a common trend among domestic travelers.)
Are there places like this in the U.S? Las Vegas? Branson, MI? Would you say the majority of American tourist are the same way?
A friend I made on my last trip told me that “I’m doing tourism right.” He meant that I went off the beaten track to experience the culture. “Us Chinese do it wrong,” he said. Is there really a right way to do tourism?
Lugu Lake and Lijiang tourism are still considerably different from each other at the moment. Lijiang is more inviting to tourists from all economic classes, while Lugu Lake is more inviting to the hikers, backpackers, and adventurous upper-class. Unfortunately, Lugu Lake will be just another cosmopolitan tourist spot in the coming years. Many say that it has already reached that point, but I disagree. The locals are still present in the area and tourism is still developing; however more and more outside investors are coming in each year. What I find unique among the outside investors in Lugu Lake, at least from what I observed, is that most of the non-Mosuo become part of the Mosuo community when they move there. This comes from building close relationships with the local people. Of course, there are outsiders who keep to themselves or differentiate themselves from the locals, but the community is small, and overall, close-knit.
Tourism destroys the authenticity of a culture, at least that it what most people argue. From the cases of Lijiang, Suhe, and Lugu Lake, it does seem like it does, at least in the case that authenticity means the opposite of cultural commercialization. Are there examples of tourism being beneficial towards cultural preservation? I’ve only read a few examples…I hope to find good cases during my Fulbright grant.
Lunch in Suhe Ancient City — Hawaiian Pizza and Banana Milkshake
(Though it’s too bad the culture has become commoditized, it’s sure nice to eat some tasty western food in middle of nowhere China! Thank you globalization.)
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Performing Mosuo Culture: Museum Tour and Flower Room Ballad Performance

I took the same bus as before from Lijiang to Lugu Lake. I sat next to someone who also was going to Lugu Lake alone, so we became friendly on the ride there. From what he was wearing and his discussion of topics, he gave off a “rich” vibe. I went in and out of sleep, listening to folk music on the way there. Before I knew it, we arrived. I split ways with my Han friend and told him I’d meet him in Lige later. I first wanted to check out the Mosuo Cultural Museum, and what I believed was also the research center. I payed 50yuan for a tour of the museum, which turned out to be a traditional home, turned-into museum. A young Mosuo boy started the tour and explained his culture with many generalizations:

It first began with a demonstration of how men climb up house walls to the girl’s room. He said, “every man does this, and this is how it is done.” He then climbs the wall like Spiderman and opens the window to the “flower room,” the young girl’s room. “Our society does not have marriage, instead we have relationships where men visit their partners at night. Everyone does walking marriage.”

I personally know that’s not true because I have Mosuo friends who are married. Also, I’ve been visited before in the remote village, and the men didn’t climb any walls because there weren’t any windows (at least for my case). They just came through the front door and walked up to my door. When I mentioned the use of cellphones in Lugu Lake and how that may affect this tradition, the boy just said, “we still do this exactly (climb walls).”

I felt like what he was saying was rehearsed to fulfill my expectations and not to teach me. What are the expectations that he assumed I had? From my previous research, I can guess that he thought my expectations were:
1) Mosuo are a romantic people–sexualized
2) Mosuo don’t have marriage in their society
3) Mosuo have large matrilineal/matriarchal families and women are most powerful

The boy tour guide wanted to make sure these expectations were met, whereas in reality, Mosuo society is more complex than these common expectations.

A young Mosuo girl then continued the tour to show me the living hall, where the family eats meals and the elders and children sleep. I talked with an older man in the living room that kept on telling funny stories about Dr. Joseph Rock. He was the first westerner to live and do research with the Mosuo, which was in the 1920s. He’s still remembered around the lake. Supposedly, Jospeh Rock brought a large chunk of soap with him to clean himself and his clothes…the soap lasted the entire time around Lugu Lake, which was more than two decades.


Dr. Joseph Rock in Mosuo Garb–A Badass 

The next portion was a hall of pictures taken by Joseph Rock back in the 1920’s. He lived during a time when Mosuo society was stratified with the upper class, middle class, and slaves. Whenever he was pictured, he wore the upper class outfits. He took pictures of the data priests, who had large headdresses and often looked intimidating in the photos as they chanted spells and did ceremonies. He also had shots of festivals and everyday life.


Mosuo Women in Traditional Garb in Early 1900s (Photo by Dr. Joseph Rock)

The next section showed modern day Lugu Lake through photos and real-life items, like grabs and tools. The Mosuo girl described the importance of the museum items…most of what she said I understood, but I’m still learning! At the end was a traditional medicine and gift shop. I was hoping to find a research center or a curator in the process, but to no avail. At least, I was able to observe how the Mosuo perform their culture to a tourist.


Mosuo Cultural Museum Main Courtyard

I then shared a car with four other visitors to Lige. I was a bit nervous that no one would remember me from before…but thank goodness I was wrong! I was immediately welcomed by the hostel worker, who gave me a discount! I rested in my room for an hour and then met up with my Han friend for dinner. He was flaunting how he was staying in a room worth 1500yuan a night, which would be around $200. That’s really expensive in China! We bought tickets for the Lige cultural performance–Flower Room Ballad– that night, which was 220 yuan per ticket. That’s also really expensive! My friend treated me to dinner before the performance.

During dinner, he was talking about how this cultural performance is very important in continuing cultural heritage. It’s the best way to learn about old traditions since most of them have “disappeared.” I had opposite opinions. I know this performance hall was constructed by a private investor and has government relations. Though the performers are locals, what they perform is approved from the upper level–a Han perspective. Therefore, this performance is supposed to entertain and excite the audience–primarily Han Chinese–as well as fit into what they believe is Mosuo culture. They make sure the tourists see what they want to see. It’s also an opportunity for the audience to ‘witness’ walking marriage, since it can’t be observed in real life around Lugu Lake. Therefore, this is the audience’s chance to get a glimpse of sex life in Lugu Lake, which is a big reason why they came in the first place. Alas, I didn’t really speak out my mind. I let him do the talking, I was more interested in what he was saying.

He also believed that the airport that will be constructed by this year is going to “break” the environment and the culture. That’s why he came now. I also have mixed feelings on the airport, but I would prefer to have my opinions be from the locals than my biased perspective. After getting to know my friend better, I realized he was a good example of a male, rich Han perspective.


Lining Up for the Cultural Performance

After I finished eating the tofu dish (he didn’t eat, his hotel owner cooked for him), we joined the line in front of the hall. We were filed in and seated on weaved basket stools. I pulled out my notebook and started taking notes.

Here are a few things that I jotted down:

  1. before the performance they played Mosuo pop songs, which were all in Mandarin
  2. the announcer used a wispy voice to describe Mosuo culture–sounded mystical
  3. performance indirectly described sex life in Lugu Lake–then performed karma sutra positions?

The ticket seller had told us earlier he’d like to treat us to barbecue after the performance. I took up the offer and dragged my friend with me to find him. We joined him to my friend’s barbecue shop. I was happy to know the BBQ boss remembered me. We also ran into another friend, YE, who then joined us at the table. I was so content to know I left a good impression before. We talked about the airport some more, sang songs, and ate barbecued foods. YE performed for everyone and was hilarious. He kept singing to me too, which was fun. I then sang love songs to him back, which added more energy to the crowd.

My friend kept on bringing up money, his expensive hotel, his plane ticket, money money money, which seemed to both the others. I also found it a bit annoying, but I kept silent to see how everyone reacted. One of the barbecue shop owners was very direct in saying how he’s too careless with his money. My friend would defend himself, but it didn’t seem to work. I bet the barbecue owner must get characters like him all the time…I’d get sick of them too!

Afterwards, I moved with YE to another barbecue place where I got to know local Mosuo women and his best friends, who were of the Yi minority. I sang some more and listened to the locals have singing competitions. I noticed one of the singers I was friendly with before was avoiding me. He confessed his love to me the previous visit, which I rejected politely, but it seemed to still affect him. I thought he was joking before. I think he’s 40 years old…why would he think I’d accept to do walking marriage with him? I wonder if this is a problem for female researchers in Lugu Lake?

When it got late, I said my goodbyes and went back to the hostel. I planned to go to the remote village again, LJZ, the next day. I would stay there for a week to observe a ceremony and see the family I stayed with before.

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Exploring Yunnan: Excursion to “Almost” Southeast Asia–Xishuang Banna

In order to save time, Sam and I got plane tickets to Jinghong, the capital of Xishuang Banna, and arrived at around 10:00am. We step out of the airport and smell humid air and then hear the gaggle of taxi drivers out front yelling at us “fee-ty! fee-ty!” They wanted us to pay 50yuan for a drive to Jinghong’s center. I asked if they could turn on the machine, but they said: “kaibuliao, it cannot be turned on.” Basically, the driver wanted to swindle us out of our money. A trip to downtown would be around $10-15yuan, but since we are foreigners and have “no way” to get to downtown, they decide to utilize this opportunity to get more money. This behavior among taxi drivers (street vendors, anywhere one can haggle) is widespread throughout China. It finally began to wear me down at this point. Month after month it’s always the same. It’s not that the money is an issue, but it’s how these people treat us that really affects me. They don’t see us as equals, as human beings, but rather as overflowing money bags. Also, it’s almost as if something is missing in their moral character…cheating, swindling, tricking are all awful things to do to your common wo/man. If this is seen as bad behavior, then why is it so widespread? Maybe it is due to poverty. One will do a lot for money.

I persuade Sam to join me find a public bus. We walk onto a large street that is lined with fruit sellers that sought shade underneath the the banyan and palm trees. We ask them for the closest bus stop. The man speaks poor mandarin, but points to the other side of the road and said to wait on the corner. We wait for 10 minutes and finally got on a bus. We paid 5yuan. We got off the bus and found ourselves in a humid, forested city. Are we really still in China?



Sam and I walk down the street, found the city center where locals were practicing for a culture competition that night, and found a quaint restaurant next to it. We ate while listening to the music. At this point, Sam and I had no plans whatsoever. Our next goal was to find Meimei Cafe and figure out our next day’s agenda. After asking around, we found ourselves at the foreigner street and at the cafe. We drink the most delicious lemonade and look through packets of travel advice. The owner of the cafe approached our table and gave us some suggestions. He recommended a Bulong village near the border of Myanmar. He mentioned that it isn’t the easiest place to get to, but worth the trip. Sam and I decide to go the next morning!

From the cafe, we booked two beds at an international hostel (40yuan a night) and then walk to the Mekong River. We cross through a maze of alleyways and steps till we reach the shore. The sun came out! I actually had beads of sweat run down my forehead because it was warm outside! I can’t remember the last time I felt so warm. The Mekong was beautiful and blue:


Hanging out on the Mekong River


Kids Swimming in the Mekong

As the sun began to set, we returned back to the foreigner street, had Thai food (couldn’t find a Dai style restaurant in the area), and then we searched the area for delicious desserts. We come across a cafe that has a Spanish-French chef/owner who once was head chef at the Waldorf (is that the hotel name?) in New York. We ate and conversed with him. When he heard our plans about going to the Bulong border town, he was in shock and said “No, no, no, that cannot be done. Too far away and recently there has been issues around the borders of Myanmar.” He persuades us to go on one of his organized trips. Sam and I feel conflicted. The Meimei Cafe owner said “It will be no problem! You can do it.” and this guy said the opposite. Who should we listen to? We excuse ourselves to think things through and watch the performance that we saw the locals practice that afternoon.

The performance commemorated 60th anniversary of the establishment of Xishuang Banna. The performances ranged from dances, kongfu, to comedy skits. Each performance was judged (by who, I don’t know). My guess is the the judges were from the local government, most likely Han Chinese. Sam and I were the only foreigners in the crowd, besides us, the audience were locals from or outside Jinghong.


Dai Ethnic Minority Dance (the winning routine)


The End of the Show

It was refreshing to see a performance that was aimed for the community and not tourists. However, I wished I was able to learn a bit more of this performance. What are the power dynamics: who leads this event? Who are the judges? Who decides which parts of Dai culture can be performed? Who is the intended audience: Is this for the local community? Visiting officials? Tourists? History of the Event: Is this a local event turned into big-time performance? Is this a new event (the announcer mentioned this is the second year for this performance, but was it a much smaller scale before?) I’ll have to keep such questions in mind when I begin fieldwork in Lugu Lake. The politics within a community is complex and needs to be understood through many different frames.

Sam and I headed back to the hostel. We planned to wake up early to begin our travels to Southwest Xishuang Banna.

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Class Trip #2: Picnic at Sun Island!

The CET staff coordinated a school trip to the pretty “Sun Island,” a island in the northern part of Harbin City that was developed into a large garden. To my knowledge, the entire island’s landscape was constructed by man (waterfall, marsh, flower gardens, squirrel sanctuary, etc). Some of my classmates and I explored the park together.

We first hit the “ice sculpture” section of the park, but these figures weren’t made out of ice. The intricacies in the design were still very impressive!

Dare and Mallory walking along the man-made lake. The reflection of the trees off the water was very pretty!

During our visit, we must have passed six-seven separate wedding photo shoots. In China, a wedding is a long matter that lasts for days. The photo shoot is on a separate day and the photographer often brings the happy couple to a city’s most beautiful places–today, Sun Island. For photo shoots, the couple often wears a western white wedding dress and not the traditional red qipao.

There was a wetland area…I felt like I was back in Minnesota.

We then visited “Squirrel Island.” The squirrels were black with pick ears. Basically, they were pretty freakin’ adorable. I thought this sign was funny.

The park was a lot of fun and the weather was perfect–Sunny with some wind.I had a great time with my classmates and got a good workout out of it too! Today was a busy day (going to the second HIT campus for the activities fair and then going to Sun Island).

This park brings up the concept of “Authenticity.” Sun Island is very pretty with its many gardens and large waterfall, but its “pretty landscapes” has a fake-ness to it. Because I am a Western tourist, I notice this and immediately feel disappointed. “You mean this waterfall isn’t natural?” Chinese tourists acknowledge that the park’s contents are not natural, but still find the park worthwhile for its greenery and main activities. I admire that. I fell like such a snob sometimes when I travel in China!

Sun Island is the closest green space city dwellers can go to escape urbanization for a couple of hours. For this reason, Sun Island is important for its local population, even if the landscape isn’t natural. It’s a safe tourist attraction that both old and young can enjoy. Going to the Chinese countryside to enjoy some greenery would be more difficult to accomplish and most likely unsafe.

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