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A Great Green Escape - Discover Jiasa
By admin on 2015-02-04

Green paddy dancing in the afternoon sunshine, short plantain trees standing quietly along the streets, flourishing bamboos bending to kiss the stream, Huayao Dai women wearing beautiful ethnic costume smiling in the field. The hamonious scene occupied my mind, and appeared in my dream at the first night I returned from Jiasa. I know I cannot forget that place.

Jiasa (戛洒) is a small town in Xinping County, Yunnan Province. 'Jiasa' in Dai language means the street near the beach. Yuanjiang River flows beside the town and brought it fertile land and warm weather. Jiasa is famous for its special minorty group, Huayao Dai. It is a branch of Dai People, and keeps its own features. Huayao Dai People don’t live in the bamboo buildings as Dai People do, they live in a speicla kind of cottage called 土掌房(house made of soil). Women wear tattoos on their arms, and they like chewing pinang to dye their teeth black. Tattoos and black teeth are the simble of beauty in traditional Huayao Dai women's eyes.

We were so lucky that we went to Jiasa at the best time of a year. In spring, the climate is mild, all the crops in the fields light up the town. Everything is green: fields, mountains, streams, trees, the ornaments of Huayao Dai girl’s costume, even the color of wind! There’s a sugar factory in the town, sometimes the wind brings sweet smell to every corner of the street. The air is full of frangrance, and the feeling of fresh green penetrates our head and mind.

We arrived Jiasa before the sun set down. The green smell suddenly devoured us, and drove away all the tire of long journey. After a wonderful dinner in a restaurant of Dai flavor nearby the road, we started our adventure of this green town.

The evening of Jiasa is amazing. Motorcycle is the major transport in the town, lads of Huayao Dai often have motor races on the road. They make up a special scene of Jiasa, which represents the vigor of this small town. Jiasa girls wear colorful dresses, with exaggerated headgears, smiling friendly to the strangers. Cold drink store is a part of Jiasa people’s life. The stores are usually very small, but they strech their space to the pavement. Most of the cold drink shops and cafes offer tables and chairs on the street, which provides a direct way for the visitors from different places to get involved in the local life.
Flower Street is a different street in Jiasa. Old-fashoined houses along the road, newly planted willows waving in the wind, tranquil pond murmured with underground spring, delicate statues built as decorations. It took more than 12 million yuan to build this street, but what we saw was like a destructive place. Houses were made for shops and stores, but almost all of them were empty. Some sports facilities near the street were built for local people, but we couldn’t even find a soul. A place which meant to be booming and prosperous, which meant to attract visitors with flourish business, which meant to be an entertaiment place for local people, was as quiet as any other road in countryside. We chatted with the owner of a handwork store on the Flower Street. He told us the rent for the shop was quite cheap, but the business was always in a tough situation. No visitors, no business opportunities. He prepared to rent or sell his shop, cos there seems no hope in the future. His words made me sad, as the goods in his shop were really attractive. Huayao Dai’s costume, colorful paintings on the stones, simple pottery pot and other local handicraft. I picked a bracelet and a painted stone, they had fair price. The shop owner was talented, he painted the stones and those kettles by himself and provided a good bargain. He sent us to the door, from his hospitality I knew we were one of the small amount of buyers of his pretty stuff.

This was an embarrassed and sad situation. The government of Jiasa kept a good purpose but got a failed result. They tried to imitate Lijiang, with shops and stream along the street to attractive visitors. But Lijiang gained enormous success, while Flower Street was proved to be a waste of money and resources. Jiasa should have its own way to develop its tourism. The special culture of Huayao Dai, Ailao Mountain’s bounterous plant and animal resources, the gorgeous view of Yuanjiang River and the boundless green in spring are all the highlights of Jiasa. A Flower Street means nothing. It cannot bring affluence, it cannot catch attention of travelers.

When sitting outside of a cold drink shop at the deep night of Jiasa, I felt sorry for this small town. It owns so much great potentialities. It has special ethnic culture, distinguished scenery, outstanding position in the ancieny history, but not many people know it. Jiasa neendn't imitation. What Jiasa really needs is to be aware of its unique beauty, and propagates them.

This hidden green town should be found.

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