It's a scenic jewel, a hamlet of hill-hugging chalets, elegant church spires, and ancient inns all reflected in the deep still waters of an Alpine lake in Austria. Hallstatt's beauty has earned it a listing as a UNESCO World Heritage site, but some villagers are less happy about a more recent distinction—plans to copy their hamlet in China. After taking photos and collecting other data on the village while mingling with the tourists, a Chinese firm has started to rebuild the hamlet in faraway Guandong.
"I don't like the idea of knowing that a team was present here for years measuring, and photographing and studying us," said one local hotel owner. "I would have expected them to approach us directly—the whole thing reminds of a bit of Big Brother is watching." But a souvenir shop owner has a different take: "We're happy they find it beautiful enough to copy." (Read more China stories.)