Special report: Travel to Lincang by bullet train

At 10:00 a.m. on December 30, 2020, a D8128 Hexie bullet train carrying 690 passengers slowly pulled out of the Lincang Station, putting into operation the Dali-Lincang Railway. 

The Dali Railway starts from Dali City, the capital of Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture. All the way south, it passes through Weishan County and Nanjian County in the prefecture, crosses the Lancang River and enters Lincang City via Yun County. With a design speed of 160 kilometers per hour, the line is 201 kilometers in length. Following the opening, the Lincang-Dali tour is shortened to one hour and 37 minutes, with Lincang-Kunming tour to 3 hours and 37 minutes.

Named after the nearby Lancang River, Lincang abounds in cultural-tourist resources. It is home to the Wengding Wa village, the Cangyuan rock painting and the misty Wa mountains among other tourist attractions. Lincang has won the titles of National Forest City, Chinese City of Eternal Spring, Home to the Yunnan Black Tea, Worlds Town of Wa Ethnic Group. Also, Lincang is a major producer of the Puer Tea and Chinas top base for black-tea production. 

Restricted by poor transport facilities, Lincang was visited by less tourist groups. Now, the Dali-Lincang Railway has formed a new access, allowing more tourists to see the exotic sights and customs in the city. In the past, tourists would give up trying at the thought of Lincangs poor transport conditions, even if they had planned a Lingcang tour, said Hu Liping, deputy director of the Linccang Bureau of Culture and Tourism. Now that the railway is put into service, a Lincang-Kunming tour is cut to a matter of a little over three hours, allowing more people to visit the Lincang area. 

Wengding village: A mysterious Wa settlement 

The blue sky and white clouds over the village reminds us of the oil paintings by Vincent van Gogh. Across Wengding, none of the houses is built out of bricks or tiles, and all the rooms are well-ventilated. Arrays of thatched houses form a spectacular sight. The Wa girls are running stalls outside homes or dipping themselves into music, while lovely kids are having fun playing together. Such picturesque scenes are quite visible in the Wengding village, Lincangs Cangyuan County. 

In the Wa ethnic language, Wengding means a mist-shrouded place. And built on a mountain slope, the Wa settlement is surrounded by thick forest. Wandering around the misty village, visitors would catch sight of the century-old Village Gate and a towering Banyan tree, both reminders of the mysterious Wa village with a history of hundreds of years. 

Among other things, the bull skulls hanging on the Banyan tree and the gate pillars are the most impressive, give off a looming sense of mysteriousness. Entering the gate, we came to a square where stood a few stumps with bull skulls. Then, we were greeted by the imposing thatched houses in the mist. 

The grandest house in the village is residence of the Wa King, where the chief of Wengding lives. As the most respected in the village, the chief came into being via an old hereditary system. Walking along the trails, we came across Wa houses in differed types, of which the wood and bamboo-rail house is dotted by bull skulls both inside and outside. In general, the thatched houses in Wengding are beautiful for you could never sense their shabbiness. Here, the thatch is sort of a decoration, and taken from any perspective, it gives off an air of plainness and naturalness. 

In Wengding, houses fall into two categories: one-storey houses and two-storey ones. The one-storey houses are for singles such as the unmarried adults or the widows/widowers, while the two-storey ones are more common, with the family living upstairs and livestock downstairs. In addition, each Wa family has a grain-storage room somewhere near the village. 

In welcoming visitors, the pretty Wa girls swing their hair warmly when singing and dancing, and they also offer wine or tea to the visitors after the hair dance. On certain occasions, visitors could join the Wa Lamu drum activity. According to Li Hua, head of the Wengding Villagers Committee, the Lamu-drum event is a key folk custom of Wa ethnic group. As a Wa symbol, the drum is something holy for the folks. During Lamu-drum event, folks cut a tree in the forest outside, pulled it into the village, and make a new drum to replace the old one. Interestingly, the divide the wooden drums into the male ones and the female ones. The male drums sound short and low, while the female drums features a longer and higher pitch. The wooden drums can only be played on grand festivities like offering a tribute, and each village has a designated room to store the drums.