Southern China is known for its wild and adventures landscapes, specifically famous are the Rice Terraces in Yunnan and Guangxi provinces. One location in Yunnan in particular, Yuan Yang, offers an incredible insight into China’s many ethnicities and landscapes. In this host-post by renowned photographer Brian Wytcherley, Laowaiblog readers gain an intimate look into the people, the Rice Terraces and the unique social fabric of Southern Yunnan province in China
Twice in the past year I’ve had the chance to visit some of the small villages outside of Yuan yang, in China’s Yunnan province. During my time there, I met several local ethnic groups (MinZu), including groups such as the Hani, Yao, Yi, and Miao. The first time I passed through, In January of last year, the areas famous for rice terraces were already frequented by many tourists. Upon coming back just one year later however, I felt that everything had changed. Dozens of new hotels had opened up, fences around scenic areas grew taller, and prices had doubled. Gates and ticket offices made the area feel like a big amusement park. One local farmer told me that outsiders had driven prices up so much that he couldn’t afford a ride home from the rice terraces anymore. I felt things were changing, and changing fast. Outside Yuan Yang, many ethnic girls still wear traditional clothes. However, most of them now buy their clothes from outlets that obtain them from factories far away. Boys are often dressed in suits and other forms of western clothing, like their fathers. Influence from tourists and local government is changing the people in the villages around Yuan Yang and around the magnificent rice terraces in the area. While influence from the outside is inevitable and even potentially positive in some ways, it is important to look at who is being affected and how this influence will shape the future of the cultures who have existed there for so long. The photos I’m including here are only part of a much larger story: I’m sharing with you a few of the local faces I met while wandering the hillsides and rice terraces outside Yuan Yang region in Yunnan province.
For more of this work in progress, you can visit Brian Wytcherley’s website at http://www.iwontgiveup.com
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These amazing photos of Southern China’s rice terraces and Yuan Yang region were taken by Brian Wytcherley: Brian is a freelance photojournalist based in Chengdu, China. He focuses on documenting social and cultural issues. His passion comes from the people he meets and from the adventures that unfold when he takes his camera out into the world. Brian truly loves what he does and hopes to make a positive impact. He has experience shooting in a range of conditions for magazine, newspaper, book and print exhibitions, and he is available for assignment.