As is obvious from our previous posts about Yunnan, we at WildChina can’t say enough about this beautifully diverse southwestern province. Not only do we regularly run tours to the area, but we also love reading about the eye-opening experiences of other travelers.
Latest case in point: Stan Sesser of the Wall Street Journal has just written a piece, “Treasures Without Tourists,” in which he describes “one of the most spectacular sights on earth:” the Yuanyang rice terraces. One of three spots in Yunnan being considered for UNESCO’s World Heritage Site designation (along with Maotian Mountain National Geopark and Dali Old Town), these rice paddies were cultivated along a mountain range by the ethnic Hani minority. A photographer’s dream, the terraces are a breathtaking sight, particularly when the sun reflects off the water-filled paddies.
But whether the area can stay a “treasure without tourists” remains to be seen. While World Heritage designation can be a bit of a curse, often leading to rapid over-development and commercialization, for Yuanyang it would also be a blessing: more funds to preserve Hani culture and provide educational opportunities for their youth.