Friday, September 07, 2012

Commerce At A World Heritage Site

One of the truly fun, quirky experiences when visiting tourist sites in China that are located out in the countryside is bumping into money-making schemes that locals pursue inside park boundaries.

Imagine walking onto the grounds at Mt. Vernon and running a gauntlet of free-lance tour guides, carnival-style games, animal rides, and trinket stands, none of which are part of the official operation. Imagine walking through fields of corn, not grown in homage to George Washington, but rather as a means of sustenance and income for people living nearby (inside the grounds, in fact).

The Eastern Qing Tombs may be a World Heritage Site, but they certainly come across as a hodge-podge blend of imperial history and contemporary life as a peasant. I'm still trying to figure out which of these two aspects is more fascinating to my Western eyes...



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