Luo Jiamei: Guardian of Dong culture

Zhang Xingjian( | Updated: 2016-09-08 09:54

Luo Jiamei: Guardian of Dong culture

Luo Jiamei does interviews with reporters on her career creation. [Photo provided to]

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To many Singaporeans, her name is not that strange. Playing the pipa, or Chinese lute, while performing traditional dance and wearing Dong-style clothes, she likes to keep her traditional lifestyle even outside her hometown.

And she is proud to do so.

Her name is Luo Jiamei, a standard post-80 overseas returnee living in Zhaoxing within Qiandongnan Miao and Dong autonomous prefecture in Southwest China's Guizhou province.

Three years ago, she gave up a decent job in Singapore and decided to go back home and created a business there.

She honed in on the chance of commercial use of Guiyang-Guangzhou High-speed Railway on December 26, 2014 and rented a 60- square-meter house near the Zhaoxing Drum Tower, a popular scenic spot in her hometown.

She rebuilt the house into a hotel, integrating leisure and residence titled Cape of Good Hope Post and put it into operation in June, 2014.

At first, the business did not run as smoothly as she expected. She devoted much of her time and energy to her career but gained little, leading to a slack business. She once wanted to quit but persisted in her business.

After careful thought, she decided to make her post become more special. Under the theme of turning a post into a Dong culture museum, she hopes to make visitors experience Dong culture in all aspects from tasting food, performing embroidery to learning dialect and singing songs.

This time she is right. Many people have come to her post after online promotion or word of mouth. Now, people have to order in advance before living in her post. The turnover of her post reached more than 150,000 yuan ($2,225) in 2015.

"I love Dong culture and this is my hometown. Since I can make a pretty good business just in my hometown, why should I keep working at abroad," Luo said in face of doubt and puzzle from others.

"I am confident about Li culture and will tap more related cultural resources in the future. China has entered the era of mass tourism. Therefore, I will take the advantage of the golden opportunity to make money on one hand, and to promote Dong culture on the other."

As a matter of fact, Luo is not the only one. Many Chinese young people with well-educated backgrounds decide to start their businesses in their hometowns.

Chinese premier Li Keqiang has said on many occasions he encourages people to start their own businesses and to make innovations, which will not only create more jobs and increase personal incomes, but also improve social mobility and social equity and justice.

Luo is just the epitome of Liping. In recent years, Liping grasps the red and folk culture to boost its tourism industry.

By the end of 2015, more than 140 village hotels had been built in Zhaoxing. And as the infrastructure of the whole county had changed with each passing day, hotels here can accommodate more than 500 people a day.

According to the latest government report, during the Twelfth Five Year Plan (2011- 2015) period, the overall GDP in Liping increased from 3.16 billion to 6.73 billion yuan, with an average annual growth rate of 16.3 percent; tourist arrivals increased by 26.2 percent year-on-year, from 1.28 million to 2.63 million.

Also, it is worthwhile noting that tourism has gained considerable momentum in the first half of this year, increasing 43.9 percent in tourist receipts over the same period last year.

Liping, the first leg of Red Army Guizhou tour, is taking action to turn cultural resources into economic development. And more stories will come. Let's just watch and see.

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