October 14, 2006

Cover Me

This month I have to say goodbye to a lovely little girl in China, but soon she'll be seen all over the world.

I don't acutally know her name although we have met twice. I took her photo on my first visit to Ping'An, a small town in the Longji Rice Terraces about two hours north west of Guilin. She is the daughter of a Zhuong family, one of the ethnic groups that populate the cool climes of these hills and grow rice.

She's important to me because I picked her smiling face and happy wave to represent my photography tours. It has been her face that graced our website and helped show potential travellers what joys awaits them in China should they join us on a photo tour.

On my second visit to Ping'An we saw her again, and gave her a copy of this photo. It was a special moment and the shy little girl was very surprised. Her mother was delighted however and we took a few more photos of the family so we have something to give them on our next trip.

But this lovely little girl can no longer appear on my photography website, and cannot be used in my travel writing. I have sold her to Travel Indochina for their next China brochure. While I will miss seeing her face when I visit my website, it seems likely that a great deal more people will be blessed with her smile once the new brochure comes out.

It's a great policy to make return trips and share the photos from our previous students, but in this instance their is a little more joy to share. The plan is to visit the school and ask about what they might benefit from. The Zhuong people are different to the neighbouring Yao, for they freely offer themselves to photographers. The Yao harass tourists for photos in exchange for money and are frankly annoying to excess. I am keen to reward the people of Ping'An for their kindness and demonstrate a direct benefit.

The little girl on the Travel Indochina brcohure will live on my bookshelf alongside a Cheetah mother in the Masai Mara (Peregrine Africa brochure), a golden Buddhist statue from Hanoi (Peregrine Asia brochure), and the Samburu people of northern Kenya (Geckos worldwide brochure).

And in case you're wondering, my photography tour website will be enhanced by a photo of the Great Wall of China. It's a lovely photo, but second to our young friend in the rice terraces.

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