China: New and Old

News reports and the extravagant 2008 Summer Olympics could give people the impression that China is this up-and-coming industrialized country. Maybe in a few large cities things have modernized, but in places, especially in rural areas, people can be living in abject poverty. We didn’t have the opportunity to get to really remote places, due to the size of our 26-seat (or more) tour bus. 


A Jingpo household with few belongings. Cardboard boxes and a very old desk are some of the main furnitures; clothes are stored in the upright cabinet with sheet plastic cover.

Several bags in the corner of the bedroom were marked “Urea,” a fertilizer, but I suspect that there were reused bags containing food stables.


A boy, of DeAng minority, playing with a tire. It does not look like he has many alternative play toys.

A young woman coming back home from a day’s farm work. You can see the container and chopsticks she used for lunch—not only was the lunch cold, it was not even covered.


An old lady sifting through garbage, looking for recyclable items. This was in a medium-sized city (Dali, Yunnan).

Along the rural highway atop the Gaoligong mountain, a service station advertised its services on the wall: Restaurant, Hotel (note the rooms numbered 1 to 4), and vehicle repair.

Rooms in this hotel start from more than 1000 yuan ($150) a night, while a young man of Dai minority can “buy” (in the word of our local tour guide) a bride from Myanmar across the borer for 2000 yuan.

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