Libmonster ID: U.S.-1398
Author(s) of the publication: D. A. DUDENKOVA


Moscow City Pedagogical University (MSPU)

KeywordsChinaXishuangbannaDai people

In China, they say: "Above is paradise, and below is Suzhou and Hangzhou" (cities in the east of the country). And if you still naively believe this, then you just haven't been lucky enough to visit Xishuangbanna yet. Xishuangbanna is a tropical paradise in southwestern China's Yunnan Province on the border with Laos and Myanmar (see map).

In Xishuangbanna, the January temperature is +27 degrees, and local residents cringe and say that it is cooler than usual, bananas hang on the city streets among other tropical greenery. Here, it seems that all the people are smiling at you, even if they are just squinting in the sun.

Let's start in order. The main part of the population of Xishuangbanna is made up of representatives of the Dai people, who are close to the Thais in their culture and language. Some time ago, the Ministry of Education tried to introduce Dai culture and language classes in kindergartens and schools, but the process did not go beyond the idea.

Today's young people prefer to learn Putonghua in order to go north, get a good education and not engage in manual labor, listen to pop music and bleach their hair to become like the Laowai (as the Chinese call foreigners among themselves). Well, this can be understood, although, as practice shows, the seekers of an easy life return very soon. And there are two reasons for this: the first is that the heart of a true Dai belongs to Xishuangbanna, nostalgia, the desire to once again plunge into the atmosphere of friendliness and hospitality typical of Dai, pulls him back; and the second is more prosaic - it's too cold in the north.

Xishuangbanna is a cozy little town (approximately 9 square kilometers), and you can walk along and across it in just a few hours. Long alleys with rays of sun breaking through the leaves of exotic tropical trees, street vendors offering kebabs, local cigars, T-shirts with the inscription "THAILAND". (By the way, many people are "led" to this and buy, and then, apparently, brag to their friends that they also stopped in Thailand, since this is close.) And here you can buy a lot of small wooden elephants, bracelets made of shells and other interesting trinkets.

If you get to Xishuangbanna, I advise you to definitely visit the wild elephant sanctuary. These animals live in the southern part of Yunnan Province in natural conditions. As local residents admit, wild elephants quite often visit local farmlands and are treated to the fruits of peasant labor without asking. Those who are used to thinking that these powerful and seemingly harmless creatures can only live on the plains, here is a surprise. Mountain ranges covered with almost impenetrable thickets of tropical forests are not an obstacle to the movement of Asian elephants. For those who like to observe these animals in natural conditions, the reserve has built hanging paths, along which small houses are also located on long stilts along the edges. For a small fee, you can stay in them for the night and after a long wait, see how the elephants with their massive bodies make their way through the green mass of dense vegetation to the watering hole. For security reasons, navigate through the BPO-

Putonghua is an official language in the People's Republic of China, Taiwan, and Singapore. This concept refers primarily to the oral, pronouncing norm. The written standard is called baihua.

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a picnic without a local guide is strictly prohibited.

In Xishuangbanna County, on the green island of Hulu, there is the Xishuangbanna Botanical Garden of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the largest in area and the second largest in the world in terms of the variety of plants growing there. On the territory of 1,100 hectares, you can see more than 12 thousand people. plant species that are found in the tropical zone, including the rarest ones. The guide drew our attention to a very large tree, the inscription on the sign next to which warned: "Very poisonous, be careful!"

"This tree is called jiandushu in Chinese, and the locals used to sew rainproof clothing from its fibers. However, it was possible to wear it only if there were no cuts on the body, " our guide explained. Despite the warning, we still ventured to touch this "tree of death". No consequences.

Being in this tropical paradise, we understood why the Dai people put forward the concept of "man is part of nature", which is also reflected in the Dai saying: "Without the forest there is no water, without water there is no field, without the field there will be no grain, and without grain people will not be able to exist."

It should be noted that the Japanese know Russian culture. There are often competitions for performing popular Russian songs, such as" Podmoskovnye vechery"," Katyusha"," Kalinka " and many others. In Xishuangbanna, you can hear them performed locally.

And in Xishuangbanna - one of the tallest statues of the Buddha in China. The highest is in Henan (108 m), the second-in Sichuan on Leshan (71 m), it is considered that the third - in Hong Kong (23 m). And few people know about the 60-meter-high Buddha in the big Buddha temple in Xishuangbanna. And in vain, by the way. The entire temple complex, together with the Buddha, is a delightful sight. The whimsical shapes of the temple roofs in the Chinese favorite colors (red and yellow) perfectly harmonize with the mountain landscape and blue sky. The feeling of spaciousness and freedom does not leave the visitors.

Talking about Xishuangbanna, it is impossible not to mention the national holiday of watering water. It lasts for three whole days - from April 13 to April 15. We were told an interesting legend about its origin. In ancient times, this territory was ruled by a terrible despotic prince who did not like either his subjects or his lands. He organized arson and looting, and people lived restlessly and very poorly. Everyone hated him, but there was nothing they could do. This prince had six wives, but even that wasn't enough for him, so he stole another girl. These seven women began to look for a way to destroy the tyrant. One evening, he returned home with a pile of loot. He was drunk and accidentally let slip that the only way to kill him was to strangle him with his own hair, which his wives did that night. His head fell off and fell to the floor, and the floor immediately caught fire. One of the wives lifted the tyrant's head , and the fire went out. Whatever they did with their heads! They threw them into the river - the river caught fire, buried them in the ground - everything started to burn around them. Each of the wives had to take turns holding her head in her hands. So a whole year passed, each of them holding their heads for one day a week. It was the New Year's Day, and the villagers decided to pour water on the women to thank them and purify their souls. After that, the head was thrown into the river, and it disappeared.

Since then, every year on this day, people pour water on each other, which symbolizes purification - water washes away diseases and disasters, and in return comes a happy life. "Get wet to the skin and you'll be happy for the rest of your life," they shout when they pour water on each other. Despite the fact that everyone is completely wet by the end of the day, people are in a great mood. Almost no one sleeps at night during the holidays, people dance, sing, beat drums, launch " wish lanterns "and organize"dragon boat" competitions.

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To attract tourists, the Japanese decided to organize this holiday every day, though in miniature. To participate, take a bus or car to the Dai village, which is about a 40-minute drive from Xishuangbanna itself. There is a large Taoist temple, which you can enter only after taking off your shoes.

You can also see typical Dai dwellings, but you should follow three rules that local guides immediately warn you about: the first is to take off your shoes, the second is to touch the pillar of domestic happiness (a prop in the center of the living room), and the third is not to go into the bedroom to the owners. Violation of the latter rule, according to local belief, threatens to violate family harmony. Residents build houses on stilts, where the first floor is intended for household needs (now especially wealthy villagers even park cars there), and the second floor is actually a living space.

And then you can take part in the watering festival. It looks like this. You are given a choice of Chinese national clothing in different colors-red, yellow, blue, green, purple. The outfit consists of a scented heel-length skirt and a short button-down blouse embroidered with lace in the color of the skirt. For men - a blue or light blue silk suit that looks like long pajamas. Dressed in all this luxury, you get flip-flops and ... a basin (the usual small, plastic). It takes place in a large square, in the center of which there is a round fountain - statues of two white elephants, from which water flows. Along its perimeter are girls in national clothes, and you are invited to stand behind them. Then everyone dances a ritual dance around the fountain and offers prayers to the elephants. The host of the ceremony, sitting on a live elephant, begins the countdown, during which you need to go up to your ankles in the fountain, stand with your back to the elephants and at the last count fill the basin with water and throw it behind your back, i.e. on the elephants in the center. Then comes the most fun part-people start pouring water on each other from basins with cheerful squeals and laughter. Adults here turn into children who are allowed to splash around to their heart's content. In the course of the game, whole teams are put together. Someone just throws the water up, and it falls down in a rain. There is no chance to stay dry. Especially if you are a foreigner, and each of the locals will consider it their duty to personally douse you, with the best intentions. It's just an amazing feeling. 10-15 minutes fly by in a moment.

After changing into dry clothes, you go outside, the sun is shining in your eyes, and a slightly cool breeze blows... there is a feeling that I was born again. It's unforgettable.

Of the unusual entertainment that I have not met before, you can name and cockfighting. My companion and I accidentally stumbled upon the venue at about one o'clock in the morning. Despite the absolute legality of the event, we were still asked not to take photos. The scheme is simple: a tall square table with a rope stretched around the perimeter and at least two roosters. The minimum bet is 10 yuan. If the rooster you bet on wins, you get twice as much. The" casino", if you can call it that, gets RMB from each bet, so it is always in the black. In general, the atmosphere there is heated. It even scares me at first: as soon as the fight ends, people rush headlong to make new bets, and female employees barely have time to serve gambling customers. Trainers release roosters into the ring, after whispering something to them and raising their feathers. Roosters peck, crow, and rear up. An unforgettable sight. Despite the late hour, by Chinese standards, there are a lot of people. Some are here, of course, out of excitement and a desire to earn money, but most are just to have fun. They can understand that no matter how beautiful the city is, it is still very small. And entertainment is not enough. There are cockfights like this one, a street of bars along the river, individual cafes, karaoke...

* * *

I have already spoken about the hospitality and cordiality of the Dai people, and these are not empty words. At some point in the journey, you start to think that you have always dreamed of meeting your old age in such a place. Well, or come here for the winter, as one nice professor from Beijing does, with whom I accidentally got into conversation on the street. He and his wife come here for January-February every year to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the big city, relieve stress, and, of course, bask in the sun. They came here for the first time 8 years ago, and since then they have been coming regularly. His wife even joked that when they were young, they were too busy to go anywhere for a honeymoon, so now they arrange a honeymoon every year, even two honeymoons. They looked very pleased.

For me, it would be worth it to come to Xishuangbanna in the winter to work as a janitor, earn your own rice, sleep on straw, and feel happy.

A woman from Belgium lives in Xishuangbanna: she got married there and stayed. It is worth noting that the girl in this regard is still easier. A man will have to work for her family for three whole years to marry a Japanese beauty, but (please note): if he wears glasses, the term is halved, i.e. only one and a half years! This is something to think about!


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