"Menglun" Menglun by mke1963
Menglun Travel Guide: 8 reviews and 14 photos
Menglun is around 60km east of Galanba and about 80km south-east of Jinghong. Two different roads mean that a circular route from Jinghong is possible, and several good - but very small - hotels in Menglun create possibilities for seeing more of this fascinating area.
Menglun itself is a non-descript town resting uneasily at the confluence of the Luosuo Jiang and the Mekong.
It is a country of big rubber plantations and more original forest on the steeper hills.
One of the main attractions of the town, and a reason for staying longer is the huge Botanical Gardens that are a significant global resource for understanding the botany of Yunnan. Considering that a very large majority of the temperate world's horticultural plants originated in Xishuangbanna, this should come as no surprise.
Menglun is a Han town, and is largely devoid of interesting buildings but it is a friendly place. The ethnic minorities tend to live in the hills or in smaller villages around the town, and some of them are starting to assert their own priorities in developing tourist income. This is a sensitive issue in many parts of Yunnan, and especially with some of the smaller groups who live in this area. The whole concept of what constitutes a minority is, itself, sensitive, and their are groups here that are classified as being from one minority, but with sufficient differences to be considered a unique minority.
I would urge visitors to read up about the history of this area, through the eyes of the various eighteenth French and English explorers, but also to understand the subtle differences between the groups living in this corner of Yunnan.
Having spoken to some visitors who complained of the poverty of the area and the predominance of the Han in the bigger towns, it is clear that some come with a "minority is good, Han is bad" attitude which is both unfair and untrue. This area has seen migration constantly for millennia, as it lies between the fertile plains of Myanmar, Thailand and central China. The Han are themselves often from specific areas, migrating from economic pressure, just as the Dai and Miao did earlier. Each evolves and adapts to its surroundings as best it can, and even with the urban Han in Menglun and Jinghong, the perceptive can see the differences.
It is also important to see beyond the buildings and the built landscape to see society more clearly: what looks like a village in poverty is *often* actually a place living in harmony with a demanding landscape, farming and living sustainably far more competently than you or I can. This applies as much to the Han as to the minorities.
- Pros:A tranquil corner of Yunnan, but with some comforts
- Cons:Occasional coachloads of tourists
The 60km drive from Galanba on the Mekong River passes through an ordinary, but stunningly beautiful pastoral landscape.... more travel advice
The rainforest reserve at Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Gardens is very small - just 90 hectares - but has been well... more travel advice
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