I am spending 6 weeks in Yunnan, China, from early May to mid-June, 2008. I plan to visit Zhongdian (renamed Shangrila) and the villages nearby, to meet with the various local ethnic minority groups and live among the local people. The goals of my trip are to:
- learn about their history, culture and values, especially their views on economic development;
- determine the infrastructure needs (e.g. clean water, electricity, sewage, medical clinics, schools), if any, of these communities;
- examine feasibility of local involvement in building the infrastructure and operating business enterprises;
- learn about the traditional building methods, historic, cultural relics and natural environment that must be preserved;
- enable open communications between various stakeholders to jointly solve problems together.
I will report my findings to the Yunnan Mountain Heritage Foundation (http://www.ymhfshangrila.com/), to help the Foundation build relations with the local communities, and to enable it better understand the needs of the nearby communities as it tries to improve their standard of living and economic well-being.
I hope to put photos and my travel journal on this site to share my experience with you all. Come back often to find the latest news.