Friday, May 17, 2013

Charming Xiangxi (魅力湘西)

After visiting the Tujia Folk Custom Park yesterday, we drove to Wulingyuan, a scenic area in the outskirts of Zhangjiajie. It was a rainy evening, and with heavy clouds over us, the atmosphere was indeed imposing. The greenery along the road was absolutely pristine. We passed through tunnels, jungles and streams finally arriving at Wulingyuan, welcomed by the unique quartzite sandstone pillars that so enchanted us, drew us to this land.
We checked into our hotel at Wulingyuan, had a warm shower, had a snack and downed much needed cups of tea. 
Refreshed within an hour, it was time to head to the "Charming Xiangxi", an auditorium next door. Charming Xiangxi hosts actors, performers and acrobats from the local Tujia and Miao families.
The Miao, an ethnic minority like the Tujia, live primarily in southern China, in the provinces of Guizhou, Hunan, Yunnan, Sichuan, Guangxi, Hainan, Guangdong, and Hubei. The famous Hmong tribes of Southeast Asia (northern Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand), are also considered to be Miaos.
The Tujia and Miao artists put up an exciting and painstakingly choreographed three-hour show, which highlights their cultural richness and traditions so unique to Zhangjiajie. We were told that this show is rated among top 4 cultural shows in China.

It's almost dusk and here we are at the Charming Xiangxi!

And the show begins!

A spectacular display of sound and light, and local culture! 

The hostess sounded very charming and sweet!

Performances with umbrellas!

This is a typical Tujia tradition, where a bride cries for a month before her marriage....

Tujia wedding!

Tujia village scene!

We moved outdoors after 2 hours... but the performances did not end....

There was a very old, toothless, lady next to me who evidently was brought in by her daughter - she too was cackling with joy on seeing the performances. (The mother-daughter duo reminded me of my Mom and late Granny! And that also reminded me that it was my Granddad's 24th death anniversary! We still miss them so much...)

The show was teeming with people - all Chinese, local as well as tourists. We were perhaps the only foreigners around. The spectators, both young and old were very excited to see the performances. That made me think - is pride in one's own heritage and culture that glue that binds a nation as it moves forward... Perhaps yes...
We headed back to the hotel - made Skype calls home and headed for dinner, which was comical - we asked for vegetable stir-fried noodles - we got our order minus the noodles! Nonetheless, it was yummy!

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