CITIESOFLIGHTS

CITIESOFLIGHTS

RURAL CHINA

PUZHEHEI

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I was looking at the map to decide where to go next. Since my only mean of transportation was the train, I decided to follow the railway and get off at a random stop. A sense of excitement was taking over me,  going towards the unknown without any expectations. I  booked the next train going towards the east while going to the train station. I arrived to the railstation and rushed to the train and finally sat by the window where I could admire the eastern Yunnan landscapes, which where quite pittoresque.

The train arrived at my stop, I was part of the few ones getting off.  As  I was leaving  the train station I had to register my name and show my  Healthkit app because of the COVID protocols. Once I was out,  only mountains and a blue sky were surrounding me. No constructions, no  sign of a large city or touristic village, only mountains and a blue sky. I was surprised to see a tramway  connecting the station to the town centre and the place I was going to.

Not only I did not expect such a small place would have a tramway, but also it was quite rare to see this type of public transport in China. This place seemed quite intringuing, quite different from Dali. The sun was beating down, while a breeze of fresh air was caressing my face. I was starting to feel at peace. Astonishing landscapes were  appearing  before me mountains , fields and wetlands

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View from the hostel

When I arrived to the hostel, the host told me that I could reach the mountain opposite of us to watch the sunset. She showed me a path through the fields and farms which was faster than taking the road.

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Path through the fields to the mountain

Farmers were working, animals  were singing, there was a synergy between the environment and the people inhabiting it. In a surge of excitement, I started to rush towards the peak of the mountain. As I was climbing towards the top, I met a few people along the way and we started talking. We decided to reach the peak together.

The scenery before our eyes looked like  it was taken from a movie, I was speechless. We were all admiring the sunset over the Karstic landscape,  leaves were fluttering because of the fresh breeze, a smell of raw nature was surrounding us and afar the sound of  a  motorbike could be heard.  We were all sitting and contemplating  the sun setting behind the mountains. My hunger for nature was being answered,  this place, this feeling felt somewhat familiar and new at the same time. I was infuated by this landscape. The dichotomy between Puzhehei Dali, Guangzhou and Beijing was so high that it exacerbated its charm. I could see a diversity of life in the few moments I spent here.

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View from the mountain peak

The sun and the moon were dictating the rythm of life. As the sky went darker we could feel the activity slowing down, we decided to go down and find a place to have dinner. My host suggested a restaurant with a local speciality «soy milk chicken hot pot», the soy milk was naturally made locally. Needless to say that this dinner was one of the most delicious one I had in China, I could taste the soy milk freshly made and  the tenderness of the chicken.

After dinner we went back our hostels and I spent the night outside looking at the stars.

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View from the mountain peak, sunset

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Night scenery

Puzhehei became a protected scenic spot in the 1990’s, apparently after discussing with locals, not much has changed since, except it became a bit touristic. People still live in the scenic spot, work in the field raise chicken and other livestock.

 

When we were walking through the villages towards the hostel we could see  a concrete wall of new hotels under construction.  It seems from what Isaw in Dali, that it is very hard to have a tempered and balanced development integrated with its surroundings.  On one hand many places and spaces are becoming developped only for young hipster tourists, and on the other hand the wealth generated by it is not redistributed for local citizens.   Is every place just a pale copy of a so-called model of success? This standardisation process in rural areas to attract young tourists has slowly destroyed a place local specifities. Gentrification is forced and tourism is seen as an oppurtinity to alleviate poverty by local governments and often inhabitant. Branding is created to appeal to what the young generation imaginary of a rural place is and is often quite romanticised, since life in first tier cities has become more and more unbearable.

One of the friend I made in Puzhehei decided to leave the city for Xishuangbana a small city with a tropical weather in South Yunnan. She always looked happy and relaxed.

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Last morning in Puzhehei

I personnally liked walking through the fields, staring at the horses dragonflies and other beings. This place was full of life, I felt the heart of the Earth beating there,  and the fauna and flora was following its rythm.

On my last day, contemplated the sunrise one last time, waslked through the fields , listening to the life surrounding me, I could not feel more alive, and I could not wait to discover my next destination.  

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