THE DRUNG VALLEY
Located at the foothills of the Himalaya mountains on the border of Northern Myanmar and Northwestern Yunnan province in Southwestern China, the Drung valley is one of the wildest and most remote valley's in China. This region has been classified by UNESCO as a biosphere reserve as well as a world heritage site. The Drung valley is home to a rich biosphere, rare indigenous species of plants and animals. There are three kinds of snakes that can kill you. The Drung minority has a total population of approximately 6000 individuals. Drung women born before 1949 have their entire face tattooed. I was told by my host that this practice, which was banned by Mao ZeDong in 1949, aimed to protect women from other tribes. There were 18 of these women still alive when I visited the mountain village in the summer of 2012. They are considered national treasures by the Chinese government. A road was built to access the valley in 1998, and until the building of a new highway in 2014, the valley was closed off for part of the year during the winter season. During my travels to the Drung valley in 2012, I was told by my host that about 50 foreigners a year had travelled to the valley since 2009. I was one of the first 200 travellers to visit the Drung valley.