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The China Folk Culture Villages (zhongguo Minzu Wenhua Cun)
The China Folk Culture Villages covers an area of 2.38 square kilometres and opened in August 1991 to present the architecture, folk arts (music, dancing, craft work) and culture of 23 of the ethnic minorities. It contains features such as houses and other buildings of the Bouyei people, the Dong, the Jingpo, the Miao, the Yao, the Yi, and the Zhuang minorities, a Tibetan house and lamasery, yurts from Inner Mongolia and Kazakstan, the Tuija over-water market of Xianju, Buddhist pagodas from Nanfeng and the Dai autonomous region, a mosque from Uighur, and many other attractions. In its first full year of operations, 1992, almost 4.3 million visitors (of whom 790,000 were from overseas and Hong Kong) toured the park (China Travel International Investment Ltd Prospectus 1993).

Several of the dwellings have been transported from their original sites and re-erected, authentic in origin but now of course located in a composite village of 23 other nationalities rather than in their original homogenous cultural setting. Other buildings are replicas which closely follow traditional architecture, construction methods and materials such as the Uighur house and the thatched-roofed Hani compound. Artefacts within the buildings are usually the genuine (authentic) article and are positioned as they would be in their source home; but they may be displayed under neon lights with a waterproof concrete floor underfoot - such as the fittings and floor coverings inside the camel-felt yurt of the nomadic Kazaks.

The ¡®actors¡® in the Folk Culture Villages theme park are all of the appropriate ethnicity. An important criterion for selection is that they should not have been out of their villages before being employed in Shenzhen, in order to portray authentic behaviour unpolluted by external influences. They demonstrate traditional skills such as the manufacture of artefacts according to traditional methods utilising traditional materials, sing traditional songs in their own languages, play a wide range of traditional musical instruments, dance and present other aspects of folklore (camel riding, acrobatics, cooking local dishes, and so on). These, according to the management, "faithfully portray the life, customs and conditions of different nationalities in the villages" (Shenzhen Splendid China Development Ltd Report 1994). However, all the actors are aged from 18-25 years, and may be described as vibrant and beautiful. Middle-aged and elderly people are conspicuous by their absence. Some of the activities (eg. dances and ceremonies) have been modified for presentation to tourists, most obviously in the evening Grand Parade involving all of the ethnic minorities, so that much of the original form and meaning is lost. It is also assumed that the craft and other skills accumulated through years of practice are absent in most of the young people. The quality of the presentations must therefore be interpreted in this context as well as whether any trivialization has occurred. The end result is a mix of the authentic and the artificial.

Meridian View Center

Meridian View Center, the window of Shenzhen, is located on the 69th floor of the Diwang Mansion (Shun Hing Square). With a height of about 384 meters (1,260 feet), this building is the highest one in Shenzhen and can be divided into three parts: the Office Area, the Shopping Area and the Business Apartments.

Meridian View Center comprises 15 entertainment areas. Standing on the top of the Diwang Mansion, tourists can have a bird¡®s eye view of Shenzhen and Hong Kong through the telescopes. Cars and people on the streets in Shenzhen flow like a stream. Shenzhen River looks like a green ribbon connecting Shenzhen with Hong Kong. The appealing panoramic cityscape of Hong Kong can be seen clearly from the top of the building.

Meridian View Center displays the development of Hong Kong and Shenzhen. A long picture scroll shows how Shenzhen developed from a small fishing village to an international metropolis with the support of China¡®s policies of reform and opening. With the application of stereo hi-fis, some historic documentaries are shown there. Scenes are presented to the tourists vividly, such as the Cession of Hong Kong to Britain, the Return of Hong Kong, the Establishment of the Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Take-Off of Hong Kong¡®s Economy. Lifelike waxworks of Deng Xiaoping and Margaret Thatcher are also displayed there. Deng (1904-1997) was one of the greatest leaders of PRC and the designer of China¡®s socialism reform and modernization. Mrs. Thatcher (born in 1925), the ¡®Iron Lady¡®, was the first female Prime Minister of Britain. Those two great leaders are having a friendly conversation with a big picture of Tian¡®anmen Square and Central Hong Kong Island serving as the background.

Entering the multidimensional cinema, visitors can enjoy the three dimensional motion picture Legendary Pirates which is made by Disneyland Company and is performed by some famous actors and actresses in Hong Kong. It will bring the audience a wonderful audio-visual experience. In addition, tourists can play some computer games for free, including piloting the planes. Children will be happy to play with the intelligent robot.

After visiting the attractions, tourists can go to the coffee house named Lan Gui Fang to have some delicious food and drinks. The layout of the shopping area imitates the Chung Ying Street, the most renowned shopping street in Shenzhen. There some souvenirs are prepared for tourists, including the distinctive ornaments and the postcards. They can give best wishes to their friends and relatives by sending the cards from ¡®the highest post office¡® in China on ¡®Chung Ying Street¡®.

Meridian View Center welcomes tourists all over the world. It is a must when you pay a visit to Shenzhen.

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