5/24

Day 2: Santa Fe, NM

I do not know what my feeling is after seeing this sign in the Santa Fe Plaza. I hope the people who run this store know the meaning behind Eye of Horus, or I will never recognize it as a local symbol. Being the capital of New Mexico, Santa Fe is a very large tourist attraction with history of Native Americans and unique culture and art, but the large tourism capacity makes me think of the local people in here. Would they totally accept the large tourism, or would they willing to be somebody who sits in a hallway selling handcrafted products that little people interest in? I do not know.

The situation reminds me some of those “cultural tourist attraction” in Beijing, China. As the capital of China for more than six hundred years, Beijing is a place full of histories and heritages from the older generations, and for the tourism, however, some of old streets and buildings are well-preserved and reconstructed. Nanluoguxiang (南锣鼓巷), as a small part of this large historical and cultural tourism attraction, was a historical street located near the center of Beijing. The street has existed for more than 7 hundred years, and this street filled with lots of historical relics, buildings and residencies of famous people, and former officials of Chinese governments in different time period. The street was preserved and reconstructed in a decade ago as a “historical site”, but lots of people found the business potential by utilizing the old houses for stores and small museums, and turned this “historical site” into a “small business site”. I do not know whether this is a good thing or not, but the resent news suggested that Nanluoguxiang actively retired the title “3-star tourist attraction” and decreased the amount of tourist per day due to the concerns from the residents near Nanluoguxiang. As a man who has lived in Beijing for nearly 20 years, I have been in Nanluoguxiang several times with my friends or by myself, and I am ambiguous about whether the coffee shops or French bakeries are considered as “historical heritage”. It is true that there are lots of antique stores and cultural merchandises in Nanluoguxiang, but the product they sell can be found in different other Beijing tourism attractions with the same price and same quality. Also, the some of those products are overpriced because of the place Nanluoguxing: in some supermarkets, a Chinese fan is about $3 equivalent; but the same Chinese fan with same size and craftsmanship will cost about $6 equivalent in Nanluoguxiang. The overpriced fan is good for tourist business, but is it good for cultural sustainability and heritage?

I wonder if I have thought too much.