Friday, April 6, 2012

An Average Day In Yunnan.

Greetings everybody.

Today I just want to share some of the things I do day to day here in Yunnan.

First off as part of my internship I am making a map of the Lashihai area. Right now we are focusing on the Horse Guide Tourism. We have traveld to the 24 different horse corrals around the lake to map out their location as well conduct a survey about waste management (horse poo-poo) It took a few days to make it to each corral, and luckily for us, that week was a gorgeous one to bike around the lake. It was also a great way to understand some of the locals views on environmental issues, how they feel the horse guide industry is affecting the Lashihai ecology, and their general trust and willingness to answer possibly sensitive question asked by two foreigners.

View from the southern bank of Lashi lake.

Horse corral worker taking my bike for a spin. Afterwards he
declared it was no good. The saddle of my bike would only
破蛋 "break your balls" whereas the saddle of one of his horses
is like getting a massage...

We often have visitors come take tours of the Green Education Center. Last week Brandon and I led tours for some Canadian and Italians visiting from Shanghai. Usually our boss will lead tours for Chinese speakers, but we'll chime in in Chinese in case he forgot anything. During the tour we explain about Lashihai's ecosystems, the use of Biogas (gas created by fermenting feces in an anaerobic digester then used to cook food) and sustainable living in rural China. 

We also invite local villagers to come by and see a demonstration of our efficient trash burning stove. It is unfortunate and counter-intuitive for Brandon and I to burn trash (not too mention terribly unsustainable), but the sad fact is, in a rural village like ours there is no other alternative to deal with your garbage. What makes it worse is trash burning pit used by most of our village is not very good. Its walls are low with on open top, so much of the trash gets blown out of the pit and lands in the stream directly next to it, and flows into the lake. On average only half of the trash gets burned properly. After people throw in the garbage and light a fire, they leave and don't make sure it all gets thoroughly burned. The half burned stuff is also kicked out by the wind. Lastly, EVERYTHING (plastic, batteries, light bulbs, pesticide bottle...)  is burned, and so people too close the pit breath tons of terrible gases. Our new trash stove is enclosed with a chimney reaching fifteen feet into the air. Although all the terrible gases are still released into the air at least people aren't breathing it in. It also burns all the trash very thoroughly and in much less time, and so less wood is needed for fuel. Again it is a very sad reality for us that burning trash is the only way to deal with it, but at least we can try to do it as efficiently as possible with the least amount of impact to people and environment..... : /

While we are not working at the GEC we also volunteer once a week teaching English at the local middle school. The kids are great fun. It gives them a chance to get up out of their chairs and act silly for a bit while at the same time learning some English from native speakers instead of their teachers, who all speak English fairly well, but with thick Chinese accents. So we are the kiddos only pronunciation coaches. We also bring in the guitar and teach them songs. It’s a good break from the normal daily routine.

Also with free time we do plenty of hiking in the local mountains, plenty of biking around the countryside and beyond, taking in the beautiful scenery, learning to relax and quite my mind, writing and playing music, filming bees, wood carving, studying Ancient Chinese and Daoism, meeting with CoushSurfers who travel through the Lijiang/Lashihai area, plenty of reading [Jack Kerouac is great while traveling] learning to cook Chinese food….

Once a week we will make dumplings or baozi. I was surprised out how very easy it is to do and I am glad I am learning it now so I can take it with me back to the States and make delicious dumplings for folks when I return.

kneading dough
Steaming Dumplings

filming bee hive for Flying Pigeon video
teaching at the middle school

Today we had a nice surprise. A middle school student whose family is good friends with the GEC stopped by with a bag full of fish he, his father and grandfather caught this morning in the lake. He taught Brandon and I how to clean and gut the fish. It was the first time I’ve ever done it, and it feels good to have the new knowledge. It leads to another interesting aspect of life in rural China, we know exactly where all of our meat comes from. When we have pork its from the piggies that GEC

That's basically my life here in Lashihai, Yunnan, China. It is a simple yet fulfilling life, and one that gives me perspective and insight on the life I live in the States.

14 year old Muyi teaching me how to clean and gut fish.
Our three little pigs. Have no doubts about their fate.


  1. You've really never gutted a fish before? crazy! Will you teach/make me some hot steamy buns?

  2. Now we can go fishing! Cleaning isn't as bad as it sounds. Sorta.

  3. Yum! Those dumplings look so good. I love shu mai.