Phase 3: Interpreting Information

Updated 3 years 2 months ago

In Phase 3, I will be storing and interpreting information I have gained from the Internet and local contacts. I will be going out to the village to talk to locals about my topic, which will be pretty cool. Also, information from my 3-5s and background information will be available here. This is after Phase 1 and Phase 2, where I gained some basic information about my topic. 

Background Information (From Phase 1) 

Right now, I am building some background information about my topic. This is for Phase 1, Step 4.

Since I am following the format of the Three Perfect Days article on the United Hemisphere magazine, I first did some research on what information I would need for my project. On the first page, I should have a general description of Xizhou and its history. This would also include the geographical location and the population. The next 3 pages would contain the detailed outline for your three perfect days. The last page would have interesting facts like Xizhou in numbers, where I collect different numbers to represent Xizhou like the population, land mass and other numerical facts like that. If needed, this would also be the space to elaborate more on some food items or souvenirs that would otherwise not be explained since it clumps up the daily guide format. The last thing I should include are some quotes from the locals talking about some local exclusive knowledge in Xizhou. [1]

Xizhou is an old town located 34 km north away from Dali Old Town, and is on the west short of Erhai Lake. It is a town that has 1000 years of history behind it, which can be seen clearly through the village’s style of houses and living. This village currently hosts around 2,500 residents. Mainly, everyone here is of the Bai ethnic, and live in houses carefully constructed in Bai fashion. These houses attract tourists, as they are unique, with most of them being large courtyard homes. To emphasize on the importance of these ancient houses, more than 100 of them have been named cultural relics. Xizhou is a small town, with the center being a courtyard named sifangjie [2][4] .

When you come to Xizhou, you will not have to worry about transportation. It is a village a lot smaller in size compared to your typical bustling city. This being said, it is convenient to take bikes or to walk when possible. Not only is this environmentally friendly, but also is a great way to exercise. Another option of travel is the ever-present sight in China-the electric motorbike. These are the minimized version of motorbikes, which are powered either by a battery or by the bike pedals on the side of the motorbike. [3]

Although it is a small town, food will not be a problem here! A famous product worth mentioning is the Xizhou Baba, nicknamed the "Chinese pizza”. Everywhere in Xizhou you can find baskets with piles of Xizhou Baba sitting on top. It is basically two pieces of flatbread sandwiched together, with fillings that come in the choices of sweet bean, or meat. Another place to eat is the Golden Flower Restaurant. Considered expensive in the Xizhou area, all meals come at the price of 20 rmb or below. Compared to the sky-high prices of food in the city, this is a pretty sweet deal. [3]5]

What should you do in Xizhou? Well, you have many options. The first thing you can do is to take a tour of the town to appreciate the Bai architecture, the simple way of life here, and the streets filled with Bai culture. You could hire someone to take you around town for a day. Also, you could stop at sifangjie, which, being the towns center, contains restaurants and shops selling odd trinkets here and there including hand made carpets and the like. The atmosphere here is lively as many people gather here. Lake Erhai is also a nearby attraction you could go visit. A good way to explore the lake and the surrounding area is to hike. Also, you might catch a glimpse of a bird that fishes for the Bai people! The Bai people have a unique way of training their birds to catch fish for them, while preventing them from swallowing the fish by tying a ring around their neck. [6][7] 

When you go to Xizhou, you should stay in the Linden Center. According to many reviewers, it is like a mini "sanctuary" in the middle of Xizhou. It has a homey feel, yet still serves as a hotel. They provide many services such as bikes to tour the town with, antiques to see, a library, and TV and commence rooms for socializing during your stay. The Linden Center itself is a courtyard styled home, which was protected from the Cultural Revolution's destruction by the People's Liberation Army. As you can probably guess, anything that old had great historical value, and will surely amaze you with how well its been kept since then. [7][8]

Information from 3-5's:

After doing my 3-5s, wherein I interviewed Mr. T, Mrs. Mai and Yeling, I have gained some more information about what tourists enjoy doing in Xizhou.  

Tourists who enjoy viewing and learning about antiques can find various antique shops across Xizhou, while those who enjoy local arts should go visit Zhoucheng, the Xizhou version of a tie dye factory. [9]  The temple is also a great place to visit if you are interested in the various religions present in Xizhou, as well as the mosque just outside sifangjie. If you have some spare time, you could also visit the shop Happy Embroidery, which features cloth works that range from newly made to more than 100 years old! For those of you not lactose intolerant, or if you simply harbor a loving for cheese, visit the cheese factory located near the most dangerous intersection of Xizhou. [10] If you are ever hungry in the morning, or simply just need something, the morning market provides a lot of fresh, tasty ingredients to use in your cooking. It also stocks interesting local items only found in Xizhou.[10]

Information from Local Contacts:

The information below is from my local contacts, which is quite informative because they are from people who actually live here. 

My first local contact was Han[11] from the Linden Center. She is a travel curator, which means that she plans the tour packets that the guests go on. Here is the information I learned on September 18, 2014:
•   Most tourists like to go to the morning market because it stocks interesting products.

•   The cheese factory and the rice noodle factory are also popular because they produce fresh cheese and noodle, which is well known in Xizhou.

•   Outdoor lovers like to go hiking or biking at Lake Erhai

•   The most famous food here is Xizhou Baba

•   Chinese people tend to want to do leisure activities (shopping at Dali Old Town, horse cart ride) and take photos, while outsiders enjoy activities leaning more towards exercise such as hiking and exploring.

•   They can go to Zhoucheng to go make their own tie dye

•   Han does not recommend going to the Three Pagodas because most of the buildings there are remade. The price compared to the worthiness of the money paid does not balance out, and tourists should just go take photos outside. 

•   In crowded places, tourists should ask locals if they mind the photos because sometimes taking photos creates a huge blockage.

•   They should go eat hotpot right outside SFJ, or go to the tourist friendly coffee shop, also in SFJ.

•   On most nights, locals will gather in a square of some sort at 7:30 to dance

•   Tourists should go stargazing at night

•   If they get close to the locals, they can go eat food at their house 

My second contact is Lijie[12], also from the Linden Center. I learned this information on September 18, 2014.

•   The first thing tourists should do is to walk around Xizhou and explore.

•   Go to Lake Erhai by bike or horse (spend 2-3 hours there)

•   Foreigners like to see culture (Bai, Hui, Benzhu religion), while the Chinese like to see scenery and take photos. 

•   They should go watch a show by Ding Jing Music

•   Local snacks include Rushan (cheese), Erkuai, and Xizhou Baba. These foods can be found anywhere you look, as they are street food. 

•   Some tourists like to rent cars

•   They like to buy things like tie dye or handmade clothes 

My third contact is Teacher Li[13] from Happy Embroidery. I learned this information on September 19, 2014. 

•   Tourists should try WanDouFen, a type of noodle made of bean. 

•   They should go on a day trip to Erhai Lake

•   Erkuai is especially good in the morning market. 

•   They like to make tie dye

My fourth contact is 杨金明 (YangJingMing)[14]. He works in the coffee shop at Sifang Jie. When I asked my questions in the coffee shop, he was the one they directed me to. I learned this information on September 22, 2014. 

•   He says that everyone looks for different things in a vacation (connects back to Mr. T's comment about having a target audience)

•   Shan Dao Tang performance 

•   Look for the birds at Erhai that catch fish for the Bai people

•   The museum at SFJ

•   Some tourists look at the fields and farmers

•   They ride their bikes along huai hai road

•   At night, they should sit outside and enjoy nature while sipping tea

•   Chinese people like to go to more festive and crowded places, while Westerners tend to seek more peaceful places, and places where they can experience culture such as the Benzhu Festivals. They also attend weddings. Another thing they like to do is to explore nature, doing activities like following the river downstream until Erhai, and other activities that provide a challenge

•   There is a Bai dance performance right at the entrance of town (near Xizhou Ancient Town)

My fifth contact is Mr. Zhang[15] of the museum in Sifang Jie. I went to him because the museum is a tourist destination, so he gets tourists on a frequent basis. 

•   Mr. Zhang suggested that I should mention how to get to Xizhou from all directions in my tour guide

•   He said that most people come here to see the Bai minority

•   Something tourists like to do is look at the Bai architecture. They like to take photos 

•   Some curious tourists like to visit the tombstones on the mountain 

•   They like to visit temples contained the Benzhu religion

•   On April 23rd, there is a big Benzhu festival that celebrates all the smaller Benzhu's. (Each village has their own Benzhu hero, but there is still a big Benzhu that everyone worships) Every village has their own separate small festival celebrating their hero, so there is various times of the year when you might stumble across a Benzhu festival. 

•   As for whether tourism is welcomed within the community, he told me that all the locals welcomed it. This is because tourism brings them economic and cultural benefits. At first, most people shunned it, but after seeing the benefits, they grew used to it. 

•   Tourists like to visit the local temples

•   The gray gate in SFJ has a list of all the successful businessmen of Ancient Xizhou, so tourists might be interested in that. 

•   He told me to try to keep the tour guide relaxed as most people come here to get away from the busy lifestyle of the city. 

My sixth contact is Mrs. Zhong[16]. She is the owner of the shop on Sifang Jie that sells popsicles. At first, I was not going to interview her because I did not think she was going to know much about tourism. However, there was a festival going on that day, so I stopped by to ask her what it was about. Since she was happy to talk, I asked her my questions. I got this information on September 24, 2014. 

•   She said that everyone that comes here likes to eat all the local street food (erkuai, baba etc.) 

•   They often come here to admire the local building structures

•   Locals view tourism as a good thing. Personally, she feels as though she has learned a lot more about the outside world through stories told by tourists. 

My seventh contact is a Western tourist named Charlotte[17]

•   She said that she did not like the tourist areas with shows

•   She came here from Dali to look around, and to eat

•   She thinks Xizhou is a beautiful village 

•   Something interesting was that she noticed that her tour guide, who was used to Chinese tourists, thought that she was weird for wanting to do independent exploring

•   When she got here she ordered salty Baba which her kids really enjoyed

•   She wishes that she came here without her tour guide so she could spend the whole day here

My eighth contact is Mrs. Hu[18]. She is a tourist from China who is passing through Xizhou for a day.

•   She is here to look around and also wants to go to other places in China

•   She likes to go without a tour guide and look at some more cultural aspects of Xizhou

•   She wants to go see what real people do in their daily lives

•   She drove an electric moped from Dali Old Town to Xizhou

•   Her plans are to just wander around until she sees something interesting

•   She wanted to come here because the internet said that if you did not come here now, it would turn into a very developed place like Lijiang

•   She dislikes the construction road because it is inconvenient

My ninth contact is Mrs. Zhang[19], owner of the cheese factory, which is a popular tourist destination. 

•   When tourists come to her shop, they can try the rushan, and drink milk

•   A lot of people just stop by here for a little while before moving on to places like Lijiang

•   Tourists like to view the old houses

•   Tourists are welcomed here, especially the past few years

•   There are a lot of tourists during breaks

•   Most tourists are passing through, but some stay for 3-5 days

•   They like to see Bai culture things like rushan and tie dye

•   Xizhou baba is eaten a lot

•   Some people may think Xizhou is boring, especially those not interested in old things

•   They admire the houses because they were built with manual labor, not constructions. They appreciate how they worked so hard to pave roads and lift stones

•   You can buy lots of embroidery and tie dye at the cheese factory

My tenth contact is Mrs. Yang[20] of the Xizhou Baba shop in SFJ. Although her Baba shop may not be the most popular, she has been here for a while, so she has seen a lot of tourists come and go. 

•   Eat Baba

•   They will also eat the cold chicken noodles

•   The visit courtyards like Xilingyuan

•   They enjoy looking at nationally protected structures (they are usually very well protected, most peoples houses have been destroyed except for those)

•   Rushan, wandoufen is eaten, or fish from Erhai. They also eat the dried pork that you add in porridge

•   Most people come here for 1-2 days. The atmosphere here is good

•   The weather is good (not too hot in the summer, not under 0 degrees in the winter)

•   They gather in sifangjiang or Erhai

•   Most people who rent cars get them from Dali, there is not much cars to rent here

•   It is also inconvenient to drive cars (some places you cant park, some roads are too small) 

•   They like the positive atmosphere

•   Most people come for one day so they do not know if they like it or not

•   Locals are nice to tourists (compared to Lijiang, you can not just go up to someone and ask them questions)

•   More of the Western tourists stay for longer (they like the relaxed pace) 

My eleventh contact is Mr. Linden[21], founder of the Linden Center. 

•   Popular tourist activities include the horse cart ride from the Linden Center to Lake Erhai. When they get there, they look at the cormorant fishing, which fascinates them a lot

•   They like to go to Zhoucheng to make their own tie dye

•   Most tourists spend some time walking around the village and biking

•   Western guests like to go to the morning market, but it does not interest Chinese tourists much because they see most of the stuff sold there on a daily basis

•   Once or twice a week he will bring curious tourists to look for antiques

•   He thinks that most people come to Xizhou not to visit a certain tourist site, but to feel the relaxation and slow pace of the Xizhou life. They like to hang out on the terrace of the Linden Center. 

•   In the morning market, people like to look at different fruits and vegetables. They are sometimes surprised and turned off about how the meat is slaughtered and displayed in the open (they do not think its sanitary. ) Sometimes they go look at the fish. However, they are mostly there to observe the people, especially the people who still wear traditional clothing. They feel as though it is a very ingenious experience to see a natural market going on. 

•   He thinks a lot of people are coming to Xizhou because of the Linden Center. If they were not here, foreigners would not have a comfort bubble to return back to. They provide a historical experience and a comfortable experience. They take opportunity of the way they can come to a rural area and still have nice accommodation. 

•   Something that may repel people is the lack of nightlife here (bars, clubs etc.) This is very present with the Chinese guests, who find it boring here at night because most of them had this life when they were younger. For Westerners, there is not a lot of English spoken here in Xizhou. 

•   Western people generally come here more for the culture (the Bai people are still living their old life) because there are plenty of beautiful places all over the world. 

•   Chinese guests are coming more because of the blue sky and weather not found in most cities in China. They do not focus as much on culture because the Bai people are similar to the Han people in many ways (cultural differences not that great) 

•   He does not think that there is much culture shock because China and America has become much closer in the past few years. However, he does think that some people are still grossed out by the Chinese people's careless way of throwing trash everywhere, and maybe by the spitting (though there is not much of that in Xizhou), and the bathrooms, though those are improving. Something else is that tourist should be cautious about is the amount of pushing in China from the large population

•   He does not know for sure whether locals welcome tourists, but he has felt very welcome here in the years he has lived here

•   He thinks that they are proud that guests want to experience and preserve their culture instead of trying to change their culture 

Answers to Previous Questions (From Phase One) 

1. How do the locals behave towards tourists?

Generally speaking, the locals here welcome tourists with great enthusiasm. The locals feel as though firstly, they benefit economically from tourism. When tourists come here, they bring money and curiosity about local foods, culture, and trinkets. The money they give shopkeepers run back into the government, and benefits them all in the end. Also, they feel as though tourists provide them with a glimpse of the outside world, especially those who have never traveled outside Xizhou before. Tourists come here and add to the already flavorful Bai culture, and they feel as though that is a good thing. Personally, I have always felt welcome here, and not a day goes by without a friendly hello from one if not more locals. They welcome questions without acting disdainful, and I am grateful for that. 

2. How does the locals' attitude and opinions toward their village and the places to visit in it differ from those of the tourists?

Something that surprised me was that among the locals I have talked to, they do not think the blue sky here is a remarkable thing. When I tell them about the weather and how great it is, they just nod and say, “yes, yes, it is always like this here". They recognize that the old houses they live in provide great fascination for tourists, but also view them as just the sites that they see and live in everyday. 

3. What do the locals' recommended tourists do to make the most of their vacation or visit there?

I have decided to merge this question with question 5 below, since most of the activities I have learned of came from local villagers anyway
.

4. Are there any special festival days that should be taken noted of so they can be included in the daily schedule?

In Xizhou and surrounding villages that are part of the Benzhu religion, each village has a special Benzhu day to celebrate their own Benzhu. Basically, each village worships their own small hero-god, as well as a big Benzhu hero god. There are numerous small Benzhu festivals scattered around many villages. The big Benzhu celebration that involves all villages happens on April 23rd. Also, there are small festivals on random days that celebrate great people. I experienced one similar to Chinese New Year celebrating a great woman. There were firecrackers, incense and food. 


5. Out of all the activities to do in Xizhou, which ones are not to be missed?

Out of all the topics, this is the one I focused on the most. Therefore, this answer will be very long. The first thing that mostly everyone told me that people like to go to was the morning market, which stocks a lot of interesting products, and provides a cultural experience for some. Also, tourists should go to Lake Erhai. When they are there, they can relax and appreciate nature. They can bike there or take or horse cart, or even run if they want to work out. The cheese factory is very popular; since it stocks rushan, tie dye, and embroidery. Another place to buy or make tie-dye would be Zhoucheng right outside Xizhou. Mostly, however, tourists come here to just relax. This is when activities like house viewing, walking along SFJ, and outdoor activities come in. There is a lot more to do here in Xizhou, but the ones above are the most famous ones that tourists go to. 


6. Are there any places tourists should avoid going to in Xizhou? 

At first, I had actually thought there would be some darker sections of Xizhou. However, I later discovered that all the areas of Xizhou that I have been too have been very friendly and safe. That being said, however, tourists should still take the usual precautions like keeping their wallet, phone and other valuables in a safe place, and to avoid going into dark alleyways alone at night. A possible safety issue may be the construction road near the big tree, which contains big machinery, gravel, and lots of dust. Lastly, tourists should not visit the 3 pagodas. According to staff at the Linden Center, the people 


7. What are some unique aspects of Bai culture that tourists should take note of?

The houses here are probably the most interesting thing to tourists. Most of the courtyards here are around 100 years old, and are nationally protected structures. They are still very well preserved, many of them still maintaining the original wood and paintings. Another thing of interest is most likely the arts and crafts here. The Bai are well known for their tie-dye, as well as their embroidery, which can be found in almost any small shop. Something unique is their caskets here, which are made of wood and often contain a fancy symbol at the base of the casket. Coramont fishing is also something the Bai people do that attracts attention from tourists. Last but not least, the Bai dialect is very different from normal Chinese. Tourists who know a little Chinese should also take note on how the dialect influences the local peoples Chinese pronunciation here. 


8.Should there be anything I should inform tourists from outside of China to prevent culture shock?

After asking around, I have discovered that honestly, most Western tourists coming to China have already heard/read about the negative things in China, so culture shock is minimized. However, I should still tell people about the trash and spit here. Most Westerners are not used to the sight of people throwing trash away so carelessly, or spitting, but I should tell them that it is normal here. Also, for those going to the morning market, I should warn them of the meat that is slaughtered and displayed out in the open. Lastly, I should tell them to bring tissue with them everywhere so that embarrassing bathroom situations do not happen. 


9. What attracts people to Xizhou?

For most people, it is the blue skies and green mountains. For a lot of Westerners staying in the Linden Center, this is one of the only rural areas in China they can visit without sacrificing their comfort level. Because of the Linden Center, they can have access to high-class facilities while they experience the life of rural China. Also, the Bai minority attracts many people. Since so many things about them are unique, many people who come here come with the sole purpose of checking out houses, arts and crafts, and the culture in general. They also come here for the relaxed pace of life here, since most come from the busy, bustling city that they want to get away from. 


10. What repels people from going to Xizhou? 

Mostly, it is the lack of English speaking people for Westerners. When they need something, they will not know how to properly communicate themselves, so I think this problem drives them away to major cities like Shanghai and Beijing. Also, it is relatively unknown, so many people will be unsure about whether or not they want to set foot in this village. Mostly, I think it is just because it requires some folks to step outside their comfort bubble, which they may not look forward to. 

11. What food should tourists try here in Xizhou?

First of all, Xizhou baba is a must have. Other than that though, many street food is worth trying. These include erkuai, popsicles and dried papaya. Also, you should try their rushan, which is basically milk put in a pan until it turns into cheese. In restaurants, they should try ersi, wandoufen, fried rice, gaifan, and fish. 

12. What difference is between what Chinese tourists like to do and what Western tourists like to do?

Sources: 

[1] Online: Three Perfect Days Archives. http://www.hemispheresmagazine.com/category/3-perfect-days . Accessed on 27 Aug. 2014

[2]Online: Xizhou, a Bai Ethnic Town. http://en.ynta.gov.cn/Item/567.aspx . Accessed on 27 Aug. 2014

[3] Online: Getting Away: Xizhou - GoKunming. http://www.gokunming.com/en/blog/item/2406/getting_away_xizhou,  Accessed on 27 Aug. 2014

[4]Online: "Xizhou Village Travel Guide.". http://www.discoverchinatours.com/travel-guide/dali/xizhou-village/ . Accessed on 27 Aug. 2014

[5]Ivy F's Inquiry Project: Dining Guide, http://xizhoufood.weebly.com/ , accessed on August 28, 2014

[6] Online: Xizhou Travel Guide, http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/Asia/China/Yunnan_Sheng/Xizhou-994775/TravelGuide-Xizhou.html , accessed on August 28, 2014

[7] Online: Erhai Lake, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erhai_Lake , accessed on August 28, 2014 

[8]Online: The Linden Center, http://gochina.about.com/od/yunnanprovinceguide/fr/A-Review-Of-The-Linden-Centre-In-Xizhou-Town-Yunnan-Province.htm , accessed on August 28, 2014

[9]Craig, Tafel. Personal Interview Conducted by Evian C. September 16, 2014 

[10]Hai Sam, Mai. Personal Interview Conducted by Evian C. September 16, 2014 

[11]Han, Travel Curator at the Linden Center. Personal Interview Conducted by Evian C. September 18, 2014 

[12] Lijie, Travel Curator at the Linden Center. Personal Interview Conducted by Evian C. September 18, 2014

[13]Teacher Li at Happy Embroidery. Personal Interview Conducted by Evian C. September 19, 2014 

[14] 杨金明 at the Coffee Shop. Personal Interview Conducted by Evian C. September 22, 2014 

[15]Mr. Zhang, Personal Interview Conducted by Evian C. September 23, 2014

[16]Mrs. Zhong, Owner of the Popsicle Shop. Personal Interview Conducted by Evian C. September 24, 2014

[17] Charlotte (tourist), Personal Interview Conducted by Evian C . September 24, 2014

[18]Mrs. Hu, Tourist from Dali. Personal Interview Conducted by Evian C. September 25, 2014

[19]Mrs. Zhang, Owner of the Cheese Factory. Personal Interview Conducted by Evian C. September 25, 2014 

[20] Mrs. Yang, Owner of the Baba Shop. Personal Interview Conducted by Evian C. September 25, 2014 

[21] Brian Linden, Founder of the Linden Center. Personal Interview Conducted by Evian C. September 30, 2014 

Generally speaking, there is a big difference between what Chinese tourists like to do and Western tourists like to do. The biggest difference is that tourists from China like to take tours and pictures, while Western tourists like to go off on their own more, and go to more quiet places. Something interesting I learned was that Chinese tourists do not typically enjoy or notice Bai culture that much. This is because the difference between the Han people and the Bai people is not huge, unlike the difference between Western culture and Bai culture. 

Now, I am moving on to Phase 4, where I will be making a plan to present my information. I know I am ready to move onto this phase because I have enough information to make a solid project.

Comments

Lake Erhai

I'm glad to see that you are learning about the history of Xizhou.  All of this information will definitely help you as you get to know the people in the village and interact with them. I would love to see some pictures of Lake Erhai from you.....especially interesting would be if you could target birds catching the fish for people.  It's amazing that they can train the birds to bring the fish back to them!

Hi, I'm Evian and I am 13 years old. I am from Malaysia, but moved to Shanghai after my dad switched jobs. Right now, in Xizhou, I am having a great time. I have learned more about the Bai culture and the village, but I hope to deepen my understanding even more. I was in Xizhou, and it was such a great experience. I met new friends, made new connections with the locals, and generally grew as a person. Although Microcampus was already 4 weeks long, I would jump at the first chance I get to do this all over again.