Geography

Ah The Famous Great Wall....

No I am not talking about the bricks and mortar thing built on the northern border to keep out the invading hordes on horseback, but the the virtual wall built to keep resident citizens from accessing Google, or Yahoo, or Facebook or YouTube (or more than two thousand other websites).

It took me a couple of days to figure out how to beat it but it hasn't been easy, especially since I am changing hotels daily and on the road dawn to dusk visiting far flung sites with a bunch of friends and colleagues from the hort trade. (I have also absorbed quite a bit of Chinese culture and cultural history!)

It has only been two days in country, but a lot of has happened, and a lot of ground covered...and I'll try to catch up on it after dinner tonight. I did manage to get my photos from the camera to the laptop and that should add a little fun to it -- especially the Lek shi farmers market this morning -- just a block from our hotel, the four star Xin Peng!

 

 


Out In The Country Again

Sudden change of plans this morning. I was up late last night and early this morning prepping for a 9 am presentation to the Academy and was closing down on it at 7:30 when I went over to the main building for breakfast.

As I was leaving the breakfast room, the desk man (who speaks no English) flagged me down with the telephone and it was my host, Mr. Ma, the editor of the Southwest China Forestry Journal.

He informed me that the president of the Academy wanted him to take me to visit one of their rural stations about 100 km ESE of Kunming, and that we would leave after lunch. Goodbye window shrine!! The room, while not central to Kunming, had been peaceful and quiet...

Presentation and lunch at the Academy done we walked down to the East Section of the Kunming Botanical Garden (famous for their camelias)...stopped at the PO so I could get some Chinese stamps for my old friend Monica Hathaway, and Ma could sweet talk the Postmistress into getting us comps for the garden. I didn't have my camera with me or I would post some shots.

We launched around 3pm, through rush hour (why that was not considered I cannot understand).

We drove out past the famous "Stone Forest" which I had assumed to be right in Kunming from all I'd read but it was actually 75 km away in the town of Shilin. I got a few pix of the karst near the Expressway, and hope we might stop back, but time was (apparently) short even after having whiled away the mid-day.

  Phalli Valley

We made a stop along the way (apparently for my benefit) at an ancient Chinese warlord's mountain fortress about 10-15k SW of the main expressway and walked around there for an hour or so. I may post a photo gallery of it at some point as it was reminiscent of Canyon de Chelly. Here is one pic.

Mountain Fortress 1

We arrived in Lu Liang, which bills itself for crafts (on the highway signs) but is clearly a stone cutter's town. Amazing stuff glimpsed from the expressway, but impossible to photograph that way.

All around the town were hundreds of acres of high tunnels. Not like ours; these are intense and a total way of life for the farmers that tend them.

High Tunnels Yunnan 1

We arrived around 6:30 pm (I had gotten up at 5:00 am) and went immediately to dinner. As we pulled through the gate to what I thought was going to be the hotel, the two gate guards in olive camo fatigues stood and saluted.

We decamped and walked across a courtyard full of vehicles with roof light, through a portal, and across a classic urban enclosed space, with a basketball court and cadets playing two on two. We entered a spartan dining hall where more cadets were stocking the tables.

As the guest (the first American) I was given the first-feng-shui position, back to the wall, facing the door we had come in. I had to sit while everyone else prepared...and could do nothing for myself.

The Chinese have a ritual toasting ceremony that I will have to describe at some point (but I am too tired now at 10:30pm). I will leave it with a picture of the table (notice the turntable for grazing the dishes and the little toasting glasses and carafes of liquor).

Dinner-Lu_Liang

 

 


Street Market, Lu Liang, Qujing, China

Was having breakfast this morning at the Sheng Bang Hotel in Lu Liang  (very nice place) when I noticed out the window that there was a street market just across the main thoroughfare. We were scheduled to leave for a trip up to a small town in the mountains (6600 ft) where the Forestry Academy is consulting with the county foresters on new crops for economic development.

So I slurped down the rest of my rice noodle soup and ran across the street. I shot all these pictures (according to the digital time stamps) in nine minutes. As with the earlier gallery, I concentrated on things you would not see in our markets, and will identify those I don't know (and there are plenty) as I can...

Help me Rongna! <G>

Link to Photo Gallery of Street Food Gallery in Lu Liang Qujiong, Yunnan, China  9-16-15


It's Smoking In Yunnan!

I had heard when I was in Sichuan that Yunnan produces some of the best tobacco in Asia, and I decided then that I would bring back some cigarettes for my SheTown friends that enjoy that mildly intoxicating smoke.

Yesterday, I got to see first hand their tobacco production.

Tobacco In Field

It took me a few minutes (passing the fields in the car) to realize that I had reached the actual production area -- it is in the highlands, around 6600 ft, where temperatures annually range from the mid 20s to the mid 80s -- because these plants don't look like the ones I remember from my days at UMass Amherst, which was, at that time, in the middle of a large tobacco production region.

One of the unique aspects of the Pioneer Valley  viewshed is the tobacco barns that dot the landscape. Here in Yunnan, the tobacco is dried in small, hermetically sealed sheds, and as soon as I saw one with open doors and realized what they were, I started noticing them everywhere.

Tobacco Shed

And if you want to talk about a local ag product produced and consumed locally -- I know you would prefer it was food, but that is produced and consumed locally, too -- tobacco fits the bill.

Just check out my new friend and colleague is stoking up the cig-bong.

Cig-Bong

It turns out I was wrong in my earlier Facebook post to think it was his bong...around here, public  gathering places have cig-bongs available for general use.

Anyway, here is a pic of the (almost) finished product. I'll be bringing some home for those who care,

Tobacco Dried