Programme: Exploring Chinese Tea Culture along The Tea Horse Road
Partner Institution: Yunnan University
Period: June 24 – July 7, 2019
After joining this programme, I have a new point of view towards Yunnan. Yunnan has a special location, which borders three countries, Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar. Due to the complex landscape, the first railway reached there was connected to Vietnam, instead of other China’s provinces. This unique feature showed the frequent cultural exchange among the boundary and it had a long history. Under the “One Belt One Road” construction, the importance of Yunnan is increasing as an international window. There will be cross-border train service to Laos and Myanmar, which brings an economic boost to surrounding countries and promoting international connections in south-east Asia. The idea is similar with the ancient Tea Horse Road. The traders used horse to carry goods like tea and ceramics to the surrounding of Yunnan.
During the trip, the most remarkable moment was the three days staying in a small village, Mengjinglai. It locates near the boundary between China and Myanmar. The residents are Dai people, one of the minority ethnic groups in China. Not only in China, Dai people also stay in the River Mekong region. Although they are separated by the country borders, they are closely connected. Trading and cultural exchange in this area are commonly found. Dai people will send their farming products to Myanmar for sell. It shows the boundary is fluid. The countries set up border, but it will not halt the activities of the local. Besides, in the village, I can slow down the pace of living. The feel there is relaxing. There are not many things to do, but you can talk to the villagers about their life. Almost all the boys there need to be a monk and study Buddhism when there are small. They can have a normal life after teenage. The temple there plays the role of school to teach the youngers. Therefore, the knowledge and belief can hand down. Dai culture can be preserved.