The Fenghuang trip, part 2: ancient Fenghuang

JISHOU, HUNAN — Following our odyssey to the Miao village, we returned to our hotel in Fenghuang to rest up for the bonfire party. Now, I had the impression it would be a participatory event: a group of people gathered around a big bonfire having a party. Seems reasonable, right? Way wrong. The Bonfire Party is a performance in an amphitheatre near to the Golden Phoenix International Hotel, featuring local dancers, drummers and musicians. Included in the festivities were an auction of three pieces of art, the local tourist gimmick of “put on the Miao girl’s costume” on stage, and a long conga line at the end. Don’t get the idea I disliked the experience. On the contrary, the dancing and music were wonderful, although it would have helped if I had had the libretto, and costumes dazzling. The photos I took unfortunately do the colors no justice. The girls did a good job explaining to me what was happening on stage — depictions of various aspects of Miao history and customs — but the details eluded me. Kentuckians are probably familiar with “The Stephen Foster Story,” that perennial outdoor dramatization of the musician’s life and work in Bardstown. It ...
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