Traditional village in Yunnan reopens to tourists after a devastating fire

"We are finally back!" Xiao said.

Early on Wednesday, Xiao Qunfeng, 68, put on his ethnic costume and began working on the observation deck of Wengding, a village consisting of people from the same small ethnic group, the Wa, in southwest China's Yunnan Province.

Xiao boiled water and made tea for the visiting guests and told them about the local customs and stories.

Wengding is in the Awa Mountains near the China-Myanmar border. The village used slash-and-burn cultivation before 1949 and transformed itself into a contemporary society after the founding of the People's Republic of China.

In the Wa language, "Wengding" means a place where clouds are floating. Mist is common throughout the year and often cloaks the mountains and cottages in this area.

Located in a remote mountainous area, Wengding was long disconnected from the outside world – tourism has since transformed village's fortunes. However, a fire broke out in the village and reduced about 100 traditional Wa thatched cottages to ashes on February 14, 2021.

Reconstruction and upgrading work at the original site was then undertaken, with support from various parties. A village gate, a wooden drum house, a granary and so on, had to be built and the project ended up lasting over a year, before the village could be readied for reopening.

"We are finally back!" Xiao said. Xiao and his family contributed to the rebuilding whenever they had time, and he could not conceal his excitement at seeing the village gradually returning to its original look.

Since the reconstruction, the government of Cangyuan County, which administers Wengding, has actively explored new ways of protection, inheritance and development, and sped up infrastructure upgrading, based on the advantages and attractions of the Wa ethnic culture.

The villagers have also actively participated in the reconstruction, hoping to present a better Wengding to tourists.

The new village of Wengding, where more than 490 people live in 113 households, will be built into a modern living space with multiple tourism service functions and business forms, which will encourage villagers to work nearby and expand channels of income, according to Xiao Wenjun, Party secretary of the village.

Special Reports