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Things to do in Xishuangbanna II

7. Dai Ethnic Village

The Dai Ethnic Village is a disgrace which can be visited after your Kunming tours. Firstly the staff at the entrance gate will neglect to tell you that there is a RMB100 ticket, and point you towards the more inclusive RMB180 or RMB280 versions.

The place is run down and unkempt. The aviary included a few birds, construction materials and a motorbike. Along the main walkway the is a monkey chained to a table, a python with it's mouth taped shut and a solitary elephant chained to one spot within a cage, for convenient photo opportunities (for additional fees of course, and if you pull out your own camera you'd better leave a tip!).

The recreation of the Dai water festival involves a parade of Dai women in costume, followed by people in bright costumes splashing people with plastic buckets full of water (while very loud commentary and Chinese opera music is blasted over a PA system).

I strongly suggest avoiding this place at all costs.

8. Jinuo Ethnic Village

For the RMB100 entrance fee there was very little to see in this place. The environment was pleasant enough, but no more so than typical parks anywhere. As I visited when there were no tour groups present the place was mostly deserted, with a performance area littered with rubbish, a totem pole of sorts and a couple of buildings with simple artifacts. I left feeling rather cheated.

9. Wild Elephant Valley

A rather cynical tourist 'attraction', which when I was there was overcrowded with loud local tour groups. Upon entering one can take a photo with an elephant which is chained to one spot, goodness knows for how long. There are then a number of souvenir stalls selling lots of Thailand T-shirts (never mind Yunnan doesn't even border Thailand), and there is then an area for elephant performances. These include the elephants bowing and making various poses, and kicking a football.

There is also an aviary which had to be the loudest aviary in the world (the noise made by the tourists, not the birds). By this time I was ready to leave and did not bother taking the cable car that is supposed to enable you to view elephants in the wild.

Oh and the entrance fee was rather high, above 100 RMB (Chinese currency converter).

10. Damenglong

I spent one day taking a bus out of the city of Jinghong and ended up in a tiny town of Damenglong. The bus ran on a modern paved road, slowly onto smaller road, and then later into narrower dirt road. You can see ricefields along the way. I really enjoy looking at the peaceful scenery of rice field in this area. You can also see Dai women working in the rice field, some carrying their babies while they work.

Damenglong town is very small. Here I visited a small temple with such strong northern Thai architecture influence. Another temple is located on top of a small hill. This temple is with burmese architecture influences. At the small roundabout in the town, burmese influenced lions guarding in the center. I wished I had come on the market day. Jinghong is an option for China tour deals.

11. Dai Minority Park (Ganlanba)

I took a bus out of Jinghong heading to Ganlanba (Menghun) to visit Dai Minority Park. It is basically a few villages combined to be a so called 'minority park'. Here the Dai people still live their daily life. They still live in wooden houses on stilt. Boys still become monks in the village. There are at least 3 buddhist temples in the park that reflect Thai/Burmese architecture. There is a centre stage in the park that has performances of Dai traditional dances. After the performances, there is a immitation of Water Splashing Festival outside the amphiteatre. I found that the centre stage was too touristy and it is designed to attract tour groups from other parts of China.

However, I enjoyed my walk in the village off the beaten path to see some quiet part of the village. There are a few houses in the village/ park that participate in homestay programme. To stay with a Dai family, you just have to pay 20RMB per night. (as of 2004).

Park entrance fee was 40RMB (as of 2004)

For more via China travel guide.

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