Doing 4 weeks of teaching at TongJi University in Shanghai, I had the great fortune of participating in at long weekend trip arranged by The Danish Cultural Institute; director Eric Messerschmidt. Accompanied by the dean and professors from Beijing School of Architecture, Danish architects and the Danish artist Bjørn Nørgaard, we went to XingYi in the province of Guizhou in southern China. The purpose of the trip was to visit the Wonderful Vally project, explore the completely breathtaking mountain scenery, and then to participate in a workshop coming up with ideas and suggestions on how to achieve sustainable development of the area – and fulfill the already made plans for growth in this beautiful spot in China.
On our trip around the area we were presented with the ambitious plans to attract tourists, new inhabitants and prevent the area’s younger residents from leaving for education and only returning to visit their parents. We saw the planned Conference Center which was already under construction and understood, that these plans were very well on their way and soon to be.
When we visited a small mountain village, again I was struck by how big the gap is between the old and new, modern and ancient China. We where invited for ‘the and talk’ around the low table, and I was fortunate to be sitting beside a very entrepreneurial woman (with yellow collar) from the village, the mayor (to her left) and the translator Liza (to his left). We talked about the houses and lack of modernity in their living museum, and very important their daily life. Here I was explained that young people leave their village to go to school and then later for higher education, having their older relatives looking after their children, while they study or make a living in faraway places. Only returning to help their family to harvest. This makes the demographic composition becomes very scattered and is part of the challenge that need to be solved.
This Wonderful Vally really deserve to be visited by all who appreciate our planet marvelous hidden corners, and I hope fervently that when this happens, then it becomes like Eco Tourists, who leaves nothing but their footprint in the gravel, letting this beautiful place survive.