I stated in my first post from Jinghong that this city feels a heck of a lot more like Southeast Asia than it does China and that is, in large part, because Buddhism has quite a large presence here that the rest of the China I’ve seen lacks (think of a period in China’s history between, say, 1966 and 1976 that involved the words “Cultural” and “Revolution” and you’ll realize why).
When I say Jinghong is Buddhist, I mean it flat out hits you the second you step off that bus. Sculptures of people dancing on traditional serpent-shaped boats line the sidewalks and parks, arches stand firmly over the streets in the center of town and building display Wat-stylized entrances and sculptures. Heck even the street signs get in on the act!
Of course, there’s also your friendly neighborhood Wat (which was hosting a bit of a dance performance when I passed earlier today).
All of this is a bit of a shock having spent the past few weeks further into China!
But I’ve also noticed something interesting as I’ve wandered off from the main streets to the less, let’s say busy, parts of town. Destitution, homelessness and empty lots filled with nothing but scraps of what once was.
These are seemingly un-Buddhist characteristics (which is not to say it doesn’t exist in Southeast Asian countries, because it does). And its not to say that it doesn’t happen in the rest of “red” China, because it does (I’ll save the social commentary for when I’m out of the country).
Just my two cents as I prepare to head south toward Laos, which I anticipate I will arrive in either Saturday or Sunday.