Stephan Larose's Wudang Shan photo diary: Local life pt. 2

Culture | by Stephan Larose
Posted: May 31st, 2010 | Updated: October 24th, 2010 | Comments
Aspiring author, videographer, and editor Stephan Larose is currently traveling in Wudang Shan, China, documenting the whilrwind of change that is re-orientation the local economy towards tourism, as well as the effects these changes are having on local traditions--those forming the core of some of China's greatest heritage. While on the road producing a documentary film and two books on the area, Stephan is keeping us posted on what he sees and learns while there.
Continued from part 1.

A man enjoys a good read sitting in the chair of his mobile bookstore.

Circular saws shriek the cries of development as raw logs are chopped, future beams and brackets the city temple now under restoration. Away from the noise of construction, vendors go about their day hawking pork, vegetables, breads and a host of other products. Seniors who've seen it all make the perfectly flat pavestones of the city's pedestrian-only main strip their new gathering place. It's the perfect spot for watching the daily parade of new and old stream by: Foreign kung fu students chatting on their way to lunch, children racing around on their new-fangled toys, locals visiting new stores displaying modern fashions, farmers with their produce on their push-carts.

As I move around the city, I learn more and more about their perspective, moving further and further from the ethno-centric shock almost any foreigner experiences when they see gentrification in action, and start to appreciate the hope I see in their eyes. No more days toiling the earth with their bare hands, scratching a living out of the ground while their children miss out on schools too far to attend. The swarm of local activity and the din of city life engulf me. As I struggle to free myself of my own pre-formed opinions, I take the lens cap off the camera, exposing the lens to lives in flux, and new perspectives.

Local women help each other de-pod peas in the farmers' market.

An elderly man croons for the crowd in the square fronting the Wudang Museum of China.

Locals particiapate in a huge line dance in front of the Wudang Museum of China.

Locals reproduce music from ancient Chinese operas for the crowds' pleasure.

Not so shy anymore. These two little girls took every opportunity to pose and view their pictures as we wandered around the square. Hundreds gather there on evenings when the weather is nice to dance, socialize and enjoy evening strolls.

Men enjoy a game of cards on the sidewalk. The stakes aren't high, but if you look closely you'll see that there's money on this game.

Another perk of development. The prolifieration of massage parlors. The Wudang Foot Care Center offers massages for less than US$10.

Lovely little gardens outside the Wudang Kung Fu Hall.

Even inventive, local Wudang Shan children make a castle of a farmer's push cart.

Go back: Stephan Larose's Wudang Shan photo diary: Local life, part 1 Continue: Stephan Larose's Wudang Shan photo diary: Local life, part 3 All pictures by Stephan Larose.
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