Photos in books and online present this village as an authentic miao ethnic minority village but ... like all interesting places in China it has been Disneyfied for the domestic tourist market. We took buses from Guiyang to Kaili (4-5 hours) and then Kaili to Xijiang (1-2 hours) and all through the hours of the bus journeys I was so looking forward to experiencing an authentic Chinese ethnic minority village.
Pay on entry (I can understand this as a means to maintain streets and public spaces) but the entry area has development taking place ... new american style jerry-built vacation huts. This was the first sure sign that commercialism has replaced authenticity in what must have once been a very picturesque village. Tourist shops line the main street and incredibly loud disco and karaoke music blare out from the bars and shops which line this street. Accommodation abounds (prices range from reasonably cheap to outlandishly expensive), shops sell tourist trash, and drunken domestic tourists wander the streets after dark.
Local miao still dress authentically, but I suspect that the tourism ethic leads this rather than any link to true cultural practice.
Poor China has lost its everyday embedded culture to the lure of the "lived cultural spectacular". And what is amazing is that Xijiang is not an easy place to get to .... but it appears that distance and poor roads do very little to protect places like this village.
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