June 21, 2019 / 12:10 PM / 3 months ago

Picture perfect: Chinese tourists flock to lake to recreate viral photos

DALI, China (Reuters) - Chinese tourists are flocking to a lake in southwest Yunnan province to recreate photos that have gone viral on social media, the country’s latest selfie craze.

Tourists pose for photos on a mirror platform at a photo booth near Erhai Lake in Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan province, China June 15, 2019. Picture taken June 15, 2019. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang

Visitors to Erhai lake say photography sets offering everything from rare animals to fields of brightly-coloured flowers are essential to creating their Kodak moment.

“A lot of my friends have come here to take their photos, so I thought I would try it too,” said Zeng Xinyue, 18, a recent high school graduate.

She decided to visit after seeing videos and photos of Erhai lake on Douyin, a video platform owned by startup ByteDance Technology.

Erhai is one of China’s biggest freshwater lakes and a backdrop to the city of Dali, which drew 47 million visitors last year, more than triple the number in 2010.

Hotels and homestays have sprung up along a 50-km (31-mile) stretch of lakeside road to accommodate tourists. But officials ordered some hotels demolished after President Xi Jinping during a 2015 visit called for the lake to be protected.

The selfie seekers can take a picture with wooly alpacas imported from South America’s Andes Mountains. Others can take a picture sitting in a hanging bubble chair or on a mirror-covered platform.

A package of 35 photos costs 199 yuan ($29), said Zhang Hongtao, who manages a photo stall.

Yan Mengjie, a tourist from Shanghai, wore a sequinned dress with a mermaid tail as she struck a pose in a bubble chair. She was surprised by the half-demolished buildings nearby.

“I did feel a little disappointed, because it didn’t look like the pictures,” Yan said, referring to images she had seen on social media.

“But I can photoshop it,” she said.

($1 = 6.8728 Chinese yuan renminbi)

Reporting by Tingshu Wang; Writing by Huizhong Wu; Editing by Ryan Woo and Darren Schuettler

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