I am planning on moving to Kunming in the next few weeks and am interested in studying Chinese. I studied it for a few years as an undergrad and am hoping it comes back to me once I return to China.
I was thinking that it makes sense to study in a classroom setting, possibly at YNNU or Kunming Summit school. Does anyone have any experience with either of these places or any advice on the best way to study Chinese in Kunming, whether at a school or with a private tutor, etc.
Getting Away: Six days hiking in Sichuan's Yading Nature Reserve, part IIPosted by
Great article Luke, and thank for the detailed write-up.
We actually did a different version of the Yading Kora (~80KM, beginning from Xianggelila Town) last month, and your article brought back fond memories. I would agree that the hike is beyond spectacular, but physically very challenging, especially for those that don't hire pack animals.
We found lots of evidence of that 200-person group on our hike, mostly in the form of garbage and discarded personal items. Sadly, the 'amphitheater' campsite was still a disgusting mess a month after the fact, and you were correct in suspecting that they had merely stashed unwanted items in the stone house and under rocks at the campsite beside wisdom lake. I took 10 completely unused cans of gas and stuff sack in great condtion with me. I found two brand new boots (not from the same pair, alas) along the hike and would have taken them with me if I could have found their counterparts...I think you were right to confront them, and would have done the same if I were in your position.
I have done a lot of hiking in western China, and have mixed feelings about the 景区化 of the wilderness here. On the one hand, I feel like it keeps the majority of tourists to the front-country, which minimizes the impact (and garbage!) in the back-country. On the other hand, it promotes the attitude that nature can only be experienced along paved footpaths and that there's no need to practice LNT ethics, because there will always be an army of peasants not far behind who will be paid to pick up ones trash.
As for the Yading Scenic area, frankly, I couldn't disagree more with your assessment. The fact that the Yading area is free of garbage has nothing to do with eduction and more to do with the army of Tibetan peasants which are paid to pick up and haul out bags of garbage continuously. We passed hundreds (if not more) tourists as we made our way back to civilization, and the majority of them had huge bags filled with instant noodles, disposable plastic bottles, disposable hand warmers, and multiple cans of oxygen, which would have been comical if it wasnt so pathetic. The amount of trash that is generated each day there is horrific.
As for the motivation of the development company that leases the park from the government, their motives are from benign. The sheep that you saw were introduced by them to make the area more appealing to tourists (under the pretense of promoting biodiversity). When we finished the hike, we were exhausted, and decided to just pay the extortionate 50yuan for the 6KM golf cart ride to the park entrance. We were told that we would have to also buy seats for our backpacks, at which point we just lauged and decided to walk. This 'trail' was a visually aweful and physically uncomfortable steel-grate platform that wouldn't have been out of place at a slaughtherhouse. My partner and I joked that it was a punishment for those that didn't want to fork over the 50CNY for the golf cart, because I couldn't imagine anyone "hiking" that section for pleasure. (Sure enough, we encountered noone). As for the gondola, rest assured that they would build one if it were practical or economically feasible, and I dont think it can be ruled out, given how much money they are pumping into tour group infrastructure.
I'm sorry to be so negative, because I think it distracts from the beauty of the area and your experience. I would highly recommend this hike to anyone looking for an adventure or an escape:)
Zen and the Chinese art of motorcycle drivingPosted by
Great article, thanks Colin. I think there are a couple of points worth making. First of all, traffic conditions in China are appalling, not just to foreigners, but to every sensible Chinese person as well. Second, having ridden with horrible drivers (in cars, trucks, and buses, etc.), I find that most, if not all, horrible drivers are not maliciously - or even intentionally - bad at driving. It is easy to ascribe malice or other negative motives to those (especially driving expensive cars), but more often than not, I find that their poor driving is probably a product of ignorance and stubbornness more than anything else. That certainly isn't an excuse, but I think should provide some context, and perhaps some cause for restraint. I have several years of personal experience driving in China, and have had my fair share of road rage revenge fantasies, but in the end, given that as individuals we are essentially powerless to change the driving culture of China, the most practical solution, as Colin pointed out, is probably to try to change our own attitudes.
Princeton students discover life in Chinese countrysidePosted by
Great article with a humanistic touch! Sounds like a more worthwhile study abroad experience than sitting in a classroom...
Getting Away: Hiking the Gaoligong MountainsPosted by
Actually, the bridge was built in 1789 and rebuilt in 1923. (My apologies for the typo). Extant records indicate that prior to that, caravans crossed the nujiang at that point on foot.
We completed the hike in 2 days from start to finish (with a night spent at a 农家乐); you could do it in 1 long day, or attempt to camp. Unfortunately, the only suitable campsite is at the top of the mountain, but that area is littered with garbage.
Getting Away: Hongtudi Scenic AreaPosted by
Looks like a good ride. What software program did you use to produce that map?