A Shared Smoke

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On the road to Dulong, part of China’s Yunnan Province bordering the Tibet Autonomous Region and Kachin State (Myanmar), construction workers are building a tunnel through the Gaoligongshan range to make the valley accessible year-round. These images were taken in 2015; coming back last year, the tunnel was open and the workers gone.

Dulong, once one of the most out-of-the-way places in the People’s Republic has received much attention over the past decade. Socialist New Villages and all-weather roads put an end to the valley’s isolation. Chinese tourists have started flocking in, stopping at the designated “scenic spots” to photograph themselves in front of the spectacular jungle of the Gaoligongshan National Nature Reserve. We stop as well, sharing a cigarette with one of the tourists and a few construction workers.

The work of iron and concrete has carved a dedicated line through the jungle that is now a protected forest, taming it and rendering it accessible as a resource for tourism. Just across the border in Kachin State, however, the 1989 ceasefire between Myanmar government and rebel groups led to extensive logging. Scenic spots along black tarmac here, muddy logging roads into the jungle there – separated by nothing but an invisible border line.


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