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Rice paddy terraces

The Magical Kingdom of Xishuang Banana

Wooow, we have done so much in the last couple of days since we arrived in Manzhang, a small village in the magical kingdom of Xishuangbanna, in Southern Yunnan.

Bordering Myanmar, the main ethnic minority group in Xishuangbanna is Dai. Dai people worship water and eat a lot of spicy food. People make a living by planting rubber trees and harvesting rubber here. In recent years, the local government of Manzhang is trying to develop tourism in the village. Our friend / local coordinator Madeleine who is doing research on the impact of tourism in China showed us around the village and introduced us to our homestay families.

One of the families in the village has just finished building their new house and organised a big party / banquet for the whole village to celebrate. We were very lucky to be invited to join. We had lunch and dinner with the people from the village as well as villagers’ families and friends from afar on the second day of our stay. The food was incredible. As Tessa puts it: Dai food is to die for! One night, we also learned a traditonal dance which involves jumping between long bamboo sticks. We did surprisingly well as first timers.

On the third day here, we helped the locals to plant corn in the field in the morning. Working in the field felt great and rewarding. After that we hiked with our local friends into the tropical jungles and made a meal in the jungle. We learned how to make chopsticks with fresh bamboo and some of us tried the local delicacy – barbequed giant spiders!

Last night we held a small ceremony to in a treehouse in the jungle to reflect on our journey thus far and to set good intentions for a new phase of our trip – the student led expedition. We are very excited about our itinerary for the next 10 days and can’t wait to explore a different part of Yunnan.