Every year hundreds of thousands
of Chinese and foreign travelers
pass through Yunnan's popular
tourist towns including Lijiang,
Dali and Jinghong. In addition
to these destinations, Yunnan
is full of emerging areas that
also deserve a visit such as
is located in a valley in the
north of Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture,
about a seven-hour drive from
Kunming. Scattered throughout
the valley are sixteen Bai minority
villages. The population of these
villages ranges from a couple
hundred to over a thousand in
the main village of Sideng.
has a long history that dates
back to its role as a trade station
on the Tea and Horse Caravan Route,
also known as the South Silk Road.
The Tea and Horse Caravan Route,
which centered on Yunnan province
and connected China, Tibet, Myanmar
and parts of Thailand and Laos.
Although the route's influence
has faded and Shaxi is no longer
used as a trade station, evidence
of its history can be seen throughout
the valley, most obviously through
architecture and signs that read
'Home of the Teahorse'.
recently Shaxi's architecture
was falling into ruin. In 2001
the World Monuments Fund listed
Shaxi as one of the 100 most endangered
sites in the world. This prompted
action to restore Shaxi's architecture
and protect its cultural heritage.
The Swiss Federal Institute of
Technology Zürich (ETH) and
the People's Government of Jianchuan
County jointly established the
Shaxi Rehabilitation Project (SRP).
its creation the SRP has successfully
renovated many of Shaxi's most
important buildings. Paintings
that had been hidden beneath dirt
for over a hundred years are once
again visible to the public. Currently
the temple in the old market of
Sideng village is being repaired
and is scheduled to open soon.
The marketplace that the temple
is located in is one of the main
projects for the SRP. Along with
the temple, the SRP renovated
the largest ancient building in
the area. The top floor of the
building will become a museum
for Shaxi valley and there is
talk of a café opening
on the bottom floor.
is becoming an increasingly popular
tourist destination for outdoor
enthusiasts. There are many hiking
trails in the area offering beautiful
views and amazing destinations.
Some of the hikes include trails
Shan and to Yi minority villages,
which can be found high in the
nearby mountains. Shibao Shan
is about a two-hour hike from
Shaxi and is home to well preserved
rock carvings that are over 1,300
years old. The Yi villages provide
a glimpse of the past with the
villagers living they same way
they have for centuries.
in Shaxi are important for everyone
because of the giant outdoor market
that takes place on the streets
of Sideng village. People from
all of the villages come to sell
their wares on the street, selling
everything from dentures to livestock.
trip from Dali to Shaxi takes
about three-and-a-half hours via
the bus to Jianchuan.
As there are no large buses to
Shaxi itself, the final leg is
traveled via minibuses, which
wait at the intersection of the
roads to Jianchuan and Shaxi.