Nevertheless, I was able to use my connection to her family members still in Yunnan to tour Dehong state in southwestern Yunnan for over a week. I first went to the Yingjiang county seat to stay with the family of her aunt, who works as a Burmese language interpreter for the county government.
From there I proceeded to Kachang township, which is located along the mountainous border with northeastern Burma. In Kachang I was taken on a motorcycle tour of the area by a friend who works for the township government, though we had to slog the vehicle through mudslides blocking the road.
Even in such a remote area, the signs of China’s efforts to integrate the nation through infrastructure and communication links are everywhere. Almost all parts of the area now have full cell phone coverage, hydroelectricity, and especially important, roads of a high enough quality for freight shipping. All along the roads towards Burma are massive sawmills, supplied by trucks carrying in what is frequently timber from old growth forests across the border, such as is depicted below: