Sustainability Practicum Weekly Reflection 3

This is the last week we are spending in lovely Xizhou. Aren’t you feeling a little bit sad, having to leave behind all the connections you’ve made and not being able to see the amazing sunset on the mountain again after transitioning to Kunming?

For this week’s reflection, please think of your favorite place/person/phenomenon in Dali that you consider having some strong sustainability implications. Discuss why in specifics. And look into the future weeks in Kunming, what are your expectations for whether you will be able to find something similar, or comparable, in the big city?

Post your essay as a comment to this post by Thursday, July 5th, at 11:55 pm (Beijing time).

24 Comments

  1. Kalina Harden says:

    Being here in Xi Zhou, I have seen, tasted, and experienced so many novel and wonderful things that it is very difficult for me to pick a favorite.
    However, today Kwame and I went biking along Lake Erhai and we noticed some lovely paths and gardens that have sprung up along the lake. Vibrant and abundant, there were flowers of every color among which frolicked many people, including a multitude of young couples in full wedding attire. I, myself, must admit to being one of the frolickers; I had a great time wandering down the paths and whipping out my camera to capture pretty shots.
    Such tourism brings in a lot of money to the town and it seems like the locals are trying very hard to cater to this growing demand. While this might mean comfier hotels and springy bridges for us, I did wonder what this meant for the future of Xi Zhou. If I come back in ten years, will this still be the cute rural town that I’m starting to love, or will it be just one large manufactured park?
    As I learned from a woman at a peach stand the other day, peaches were brought into this area and planted because they wanted to appeal to tourists. How many more species have and will be transported into Xi Zhou to please a nonnative population? Will these become invasive as so many plants and animals have done in other regions when humans brought them there?
    Tourism presents other sustainability as well. While Lake Erhai might be perfectly able to support the modest population of the town, the hotels, restaurants, and other things that tourists require might place too much of a demand on the already polluted lake.
    In Kunming, I expect to find much more of a city environment. The Dian Shi Lake there is already heavily polluted, so I doubt that its much of a tourist attraction. However, I’m sure there will be public gardens, restaurants that serve nonnative food, and probably hundreds of shops meant to lure in the errant tourist. In some ways, I expect Kunming to be a snapshot of what Xi Zhou could be in the future if appropriate action is not taken. There, I hope to discover how it got to be the city that it is, what ramifications this has had for the people and wildlife, and what is being done to make the city more sustainable.

  2. Reed Hutton says:

    Over the past three weeks, I have enjoyed being able to use the bikes we have at our disposal here at Yangzhuoran. Most afternoons after class, I clear my head and get some exercise by hopping on one of the bikes, either alone or with friends, and heading out for a ride. Over the course of our time here in Xizhou, I have gone on rides to many different places, but my favorite has been riding up into the mountains and through some of the higher elevation villages that surround Xizhou to the west.
    My absolute favorite ride is to head west from Yangzhuoran, go past both the prefectural and provincial highways, and head straight up the nearest canyon, directly west of Xizhou. After biking through a short corn field, I reach a small bridge over the river, cross the bridge, and keep going uphill through the small village. I stay right at the many different forks in the road, and on the last split in the road, I continue right and bike through a second corn field, heading north. After a short, bumpy ride, I exit the field onto a small dirt road running west to east. I turn west, and work uphill all the way until the road levels off and bends back right, heading north.

    Here, I stop.

    I don’t just stop to take a break (even though I am usually out of breath and sweaty at this point). I stop here mainly because of the view to the east. From here, I can see the entire Dali valley, from the tall buildings in the New City, across Lake Erhai, and north to the wetlands. The corn fields sway in the breeze as wind travels up the valley and cools me down. Water bubbles and gurgles from the mountains through the irrigation ditches, providing water to the crops before eventually making it to the lake below. The mountains seemingly rise straight out of the ground behind me, and, if it’s the right time of day, the sun casts a brilliant glow across the entire valley.
    This has become an extremely special spot for me. It is a place to clear my head and escape the close living quarters of Yangzhuoran. Even more, I think it is a special place for Dali. The corn field, to me, is more than just an economic resource for the farmer. It seems to act like a type of buffer between the bustling valley and the tranquil mountains. From this spot along the dirt road, I can hear the cars honking in the distance and the general rumble of the valley. Behind me, in the mountains, birds fly overhead and the trees sway gently in the breeze. While the corn field might not be a “natural space,” it certainly provides the area with space which separates natural and urban areas. It’s one of the only places I have been able to find where I truly feel alone, even if it’s only for just five minutes.
    Lately, I’ve been thinking what Kunming will provide me. Our days here in Xizhou are numbered, and I may never return to special spot atop the corn fields. Will there be a place that’s easy to access where I can escape the bustling of the city? Is there any buffer between the city and natural spaces? These questions fill up my mind as I think about our upcoming transition. Maybe it will take the form of a downtown park, or the local lake. Either way, I look forward to finding out in the next few days.

  3. Samuel Kamau says:

    Mr Liang sits outside the antique shop, a pipe in hand, smoking and staring off into the sunset. Immediately he sees me, his face brightens. His wrinkles are momentarily obscured from view as he smiles brightly, revealing a set of perfect set of teeth. Standing up in his green combat uniform, he welcomes me into the store with a wave of his hand. I smile. “Back to the war zone,” I think to myself. As I pass by, I notice that today he does not have the cap he normally dons with his combat outfit. No sooner does this thought come into my mind than he picks up a hat from one of the countertops and puts it on. At its front, skillfully emblazoned in red, sits the face of the father of the Chinese Communist Party. He waves me to one side of the counter, where he has put in a few new antiquities. As my mind looks at these objects, I smile. I am impressed by the number of unique objects I see. “Now we’re really into the war zone,” I think to myself. This has been a little game I have been playing in my head after my second time visiting Mr Liang’s store and noticing him donning another combat uniform and military boots. Having fancied myself as a somewhat hard bargainer, it was interesting to note how during my first two visits to the shop I had left with the objects just around 10-20 RMB below the marked price – a dismal defeat coming from this over 60-year-old man who always offered me cigarettes as a show of friendship each time I visited his store. He was the seasoned veteran on familiar ground, and I was the incoming talented rookie- unaware of all the potential loopholes and tricks to the bargaining trade.
    Since then, his antique store had become the war zone and some of the objects that were on sale had become my targets. When I spotted an object that I really liked, I tried to get it out of the war zone at the least cost possible. However, Mr Liang was not a man who let go so easily. He knew how old everything in the store was, what each object was made of and best (or worst of all for me), he even refashioned some of the objects he sold himself: explaining the painstaking process he had gone through to acquire the old materials from homes in both local and far-off villages and then refashion them to look a bit more attractive or include more uses for buyers. Unlike conventional wars, however, ours were not of weapons but of words and gestures. I would set the scene by pointing out a few objects that I liked and arching my brow as I inspected the intricacy of the designs. Finding rust or scratches instantly reduced the markup value of an item, and I knew I could easily get to the higher ground from there for bargaining purposes. Additionally, I had to consistently keep my poker face up, purposefully exhibiting a nonchalant, somewhat disinterested aura as I looked over each sculpture, teapot, pipe, necklace or bracelet. One miscalculated gleam in my eyes and Mr Liang would read the excitement off my visage like an open book. The result? An object marked up to more than twice its price and a non-budging Mr Liang.
    With his sharp memory, he would never forget the initial price he had offered me even if I left the store and seemingly returned a few days later and accidentally stumbled onto the object again to initiate another bargain. Purposeful, relaxed and always smiling calmly, I could always judge whether an object was going to be on the expensive or more-expensive side of things based on how he told me the price. For the moderately expensive objects, he would talk about its age (if it was older than a century), and then proceed to explain the materials that went into making it. This would often include silver, jade and red or white wood. Sometimes, they included bone or some less conventional materials such as antelope horn. If he began his answer to the question “How much is this?” with a story, however, I came to learn there was no way I could afford it without leaving behind an amount that could put me through part of my elementary school education. One time, he had talked about a pipe that had been carved out by monks from antelope horn and that had been adorned with silver and other intricate patterns. He told me of how he had had to travel hundreds of miles to acquire this one piece, concluding with a price that brought a slight sag to my shoulders.
    His stories of how Xizhou was always changing were captivating. He talked about how over a decade ago, he had moved from Dali Old Town to Xizhou because he liked the ambience here. He told me about how a few years ago, the local government had begun renovations and had put up stone-paved roads on the streets to give the town an older look to attract more tourists. He even told me about the fact that he had now switched the metallic doors on his store for wooden ones in a concentrated effort by the town to look older. Although I expressed worry over the security of his store, he was confident that it was safe since he lived on the floor above it. What concerned him more, however, were some of the older structures being renovated to have newer spaces. For example, he told me about a place that had once been a store similar to his but had been refashioned into a restaurant. I then thought about what these new businesses and the construction work meant to the eco-system, especially after learning from my Soundscape Ecology class on how human noise negatively affects biodiversity. I thought about how beautiful the sunset was from the Linden Center, and how it would look different without all the egrets flying around and how the old protected tree in town would no longer have tourists flocking around it for pictures if the work was done unsustainably, without considering the birds or scenery that they could be changing. However, I remembered the fact the town members themselves had previously stopped the construction of numerous hotels around Xizhou, and that they had the ability to come together again in case they began worrying about the sustainability of the place they lived and the futures of their loved ones. Although Kunming is much larger than Xizhou, I still expect to see some antique stores, and perhaps some tourist-lined streets that I can compare to Xizhou’s roads and sites. I expect to see the same hardworking people, and hopefully receive an even warmer welcome.
    The last time I was at his store, Mr Liang offered me a bracelet at a deliberately-reduced price as a semi-gift; saying that if I were not a friend of his, the price would be close to three times the price he was currently offering me. I realized I had transitioned from the point of a customer to a familiar face and now to the point where he called me friend. The passion he had for each object in his store and the stories he told me about them always made the trips to his store worth it. Having lived in Yunnan for over 50 years, Mr Liang’s adventures and occasional jokes had made walks through Xizhou a wonderful experience and had brought me a new view of this place. I learned a lot about his home and got to meet his family more than once. Perhaps most directly, I also got to buy more than a few objects from him and his stories will now stay with me forever.

  4. kwame Mukasa says:

    Reflecting on my time in Xizhou, I think I have appreciated so many different aspects of what is unique to this place. Of all the experiences I have had, I think the food has left a resounding memory on my time in Xizhou. After long days of work in the field or an early start to the day getting back to steamed rice, chicken stew, and succulent cucumbers drenched in balsamic sauce would completely transform my hungry state of being into, energy and joy. I just want to say “thank you to the Ayes for the incredible food.”
    The home-based had the food that brought comfort and it was part of what made my stay feel like home, but it was accompanied by the opportunities to eat in some of the areas many restaurants and homes.

    Food is my guilty pleasure, but there is something about how a table of food generates satisfies the body and soul. The communal style dish sharing in all the restaurants reminded me of sitting at home. Sitting with friends and professors, the conversation and sharing stories as we sit over a table and explore an integral part of the culture of this part of Yunnan. Xizhou baba (baaaaabababababa) was this catchy snack that seemed to be at every roadside and alleyway. With families who have been making the dish for generations, the is baba a cuisine that is as much an identifier of the culture as the clothing and the lifestyle. I think the prevalence of the unique cuisine in Xizhou has helped employ countless members of society through locally owned businesses. In addition, local business is being supported by the agricultural production of the nearby areas. Because agriculture still makes a major part of the local economy it only makes sense that the freshness and quality of food stay at a high standard.

    The Bai cheese preparation process was a glance into the lifestyle of a small section of society that sourced food from milk. She explained that she was capable of making about 100 pieces of cheese in one day. Our efforts to replicate her skills were impressive and made the mozzarella type cheese. I just wish I could have found out more about what it means to be a Muslim Bai family living in Xizhou. Right after the cheese making, we visited a restaurant where some of the students opted to try donkey meat. I wasn’t interested in exploring such that kind of meat, but I openly waited for people’s thoughts on how the meat tasted.

    I am extremely grateful for the food we have had and I think it’s safe to say we as the SOE have been treated to an experience of Bai flavoured food that we will remember distinctly. I am not sure what to expect, but I get the feeling the food in Kunming will be very different. Even if it doesn’t quite match the flavour and localness of the food that arrives on the plate I understand that each place has its own unique aspects because cuisine, like culture, is a dynamic entity that is adapted to a specific place and their people. I think a larger city means more mouths to feed and because of its larger demand for food, it will perhaps lack the localness of the food in Xizhou. Whether or not the food in Kunming matches the high standard set by Xizhou, I will keep an open mind and give the food a chance to make an impression on my experience.

  5. kwame Mukasa says:

    Reflecting on my time in Xizhou, I think I have appreciated so many different aspects of what is unique to this place. Of all the experiences I have had, I think the food has left a resounding memory on my time in Xizhou. After long days of work in the field or an early start to the day getting back to steamed rice, chicken stew, and succulent cucumbers drenched in balsamic sauce would completely transform my hungry state of being into, energy and joy. I just want to say “thank you Ayes for the incredible food.”
    The home-based had the food that brought comfort and it was part of what made my stay feel like home, but it was accompanied by the opportunities to eat in some of the areas many restaurants and homes.

    Food is my guilty pleasure, but there is something about how a table of food generates satisfies the body and soul. The communal style dish sharing in all the restaurants reminded me of sitting at home. Sitting with friends and professors, the conversation and sharing stories as we sit over a table and explore an integral part of the culture of this part of Yunnan. Xizhou baba (baaaaabababababa) was this catchy snack that seemed to be at every roadside and alleyway. With families who have been making the dish for generations, the is baba a cuisine that is as much an identifier of the culture as the clothing and the lifestyle. I think the prevalence of the unique cuisine in Xizhou has helped employ countless members of society through locally owned businesses. In addition, local business is being supported by the agricultural production of the nearby areas. Because agriculture still makes a major part of the local economy it only makes sense that the freshness and quality of food stays at a high standard.

    The Bai cheese preparation process was a glance into the lifestyle of a small section of society that sourced food from milk. She explained that she was capable of making about 100 pieces of cheese in one day. Our efforts to replicate her skills were impressive and made the mozzarella type cheese. I just wish I could have found out more about what it means to be a Muslim Bai family living in Xizhou. Right after the cheese making, we visited a restaurant where some of the students opted to try donkey meat. I wasn’t interested in exploring such that kind of meat, but I openly waited for people’s thoughts on how the meat tasted.

    I am extremely grateful for the food we have had and I think it’s safe to say we as the SOE have been treated to an experience of Bai flavoured food that we will remember distinctly. I am not sure what to expect, but I get the feeling the food in Kunming will be very different. Even if it doesn’t quite match the flavour and localness of the food that arrives on the plate I understand that each place has its own unique aspects because cuisine like culture is a dynamic entity that is adapted to a specific place and their people. With more mouths to feed, Kunming’s demand for food is definitely higher and I wonder if the quality of this food is diminished by the need to produce so much. Whether or not the food in Kunming matches the high standard set by Xizhou, I will keep an open mind and give the food a chance to make an impression on my experience.

  6. Caroline says:

    I expected the shops in Dali to be filled with touristy trinkets with some local flare, but I was pleasantly surprised at the unique intricacy of many of the crafts here. My favourite is the indigo tie-dye; there is something incredibly soothing about the colour and texture of the fabric, and the way it flows in the wind. I was lucky enough to try making it for myself this week— and was even luckier that my piece came out okay! It was awesome to see the plants used to make the dye up-close and learn about that process. Depending on the colour and intensity, it can take 2-3 years to make the final product! I left with a heightened appreciation for the work and resources that are involved in making clothing. I already knew that producing a pair of jeans requires hundreds of litres of water, but had not thought about the chemical dyes. Looking down at my bright turquoise t-shirt I was wearing that day, I wondered what kind of chemicals I was also wearing.

    The appreciation for a product created by natural resources and processes is refreshing compared to the typical approach to shopping, which is blind to environmental externalities. In terms of sustainability, small-scale traditional tie-dye certainly avoids these damages. But given the amount of time it requires, I doubt this practice could match demand and fulfill current needs for clothing, which is an important part of sustainability. Even without a time constraint, it would require producing plants used for dye at a much larger scale, which has environmental implications as well. Finally, this type of production is expensive so not everyone would be able to afford it. Overall, tie-dye is environmentally conscious but may not be able to meet other aspects of the sustainability definition. However, it definitely provides some inspiration for how we can improve our production practices and as informed consumers, purchase sustainable clothing.

    In Kunming, I don’t expect to see as much local craftsmanship with people making their products in-store. However, I think I’ll be able to find similar indigo tie-dye in touristy areas since it is a popular plant in Yunnan and probably sells well to tourists. Overall, I think there will be less handmade items and more manufactured goods, but that there will be pockets of local crafts in touristy areas.

  7. Rahmel Pacheco says:

    I never thought that I would have ever stayed in the rural area of Xi Zhou. Xi Zhou is a beautiful place that is transforming into a popular area. It’s amazing how this little place is attracting so many people and attention from people around the world. The way that Xi Zhou is a hotspot for those that wish to immerse themselves in culture is amazing. I believe that one of the reasons for this popularity and new found love for the rural area is due to the activities of the Linden center. The Linden Center is one of my favorite places and movement due to its mission to sustain, promote, and teach about the culture that surrounds Xi Zhou. What the Lindens have created is something that I will take with me forever. The Linden center has created a doorway for students and others that wish to learn about Xi Zhou and Chinese culture. Besides what they have done to promote culture and learning, I believe that they have accomplished the mission of making their guests feel welcomed and at home. I’ll remember the cozy beds, hot showers, delicious food and playing soccer with my new friends in YZR. I know that I can do all of these things anywhere but the Lindens have made my residence at YZR feel just at home. I’ll miss the lectures and workshops here and of course the view from the Terrance overlooking the ricefields. I do hope to one day visit Xi Zhou and see what the and how the Lindens change Xi Zhou for the better. I have been to Kunming already but I know it will be different this time. This time I will be exploring the city with people that I am comfortable with and meeting more college and international students. I know these next three weeks will be busy but I look forward to the end where we all come together and talk about what we have learned.

  8. Grace Carter says:

    Blog #3

    I have met so many lovely teashop owners. It’s a large industry where you can’t swing a cat without hitting a shop with disks of Pu’er out front. So far every teashop that I’ve been to has served us water from the Wanhuaxi River. This is the river that my “History Flows like a River” class studied in depth. The people I’ve spoken to say that the quality of tea needs to be matched with the quality of water, and the water from the river is the cleanest – other than bottled water. The people who live here are more likely to trust the water from the stream verses the water from the taps.
    Traveling around Xi Zhou was hard at first. I still can’t speak the language, I don’t dress like a local and my hair is some vivid color or another. Getting lost was a nightmare and coming from “the city that never sleeps” to a rural town that is asleep by 8pm. The kids in our complex do no such thing (especially when there’s a soccer game to watch :))
    Whenever I go places my friends like to tease me, because I “make friends” with the people I talk to. I’ve noticed that around Xi Zhou – the shops that I frequent know me. People go out of their way to say hi – even if that’s the only thing I can say in Chinese and hello is the only thing they know in English. The people in Xi Zhou have been nothing but helpful and kind – which is much appreciated when I’m trying to buy something or just have a conversation. The woman who runs “The Dimple” has my favorite wine in Xi Zhou, and she was so concerned when I went back and bought 2 bottles of her wine. She asked me if I was feeling ok or if I needed someone to talk to. I just laughed and told her that I was stocking up because I might not come to Xi Zhou again (even though I really want to). We both got sad for a moment because even if our relationship is solely based on buying her products it gives me time to practice the few words I know in Chinese and her to impress me with her beautiful English. She has two beautiful dogs that always run out of the shop to see me and then we “dance” they jump up and I grab their paws and sway with them to the French music that’s always playing in her store.
    We speak about place so often in MSoE it’s kind of remarkable how easy it is to adjust to a new place in only 3 weeks. I have favorite shops for noodles, tea, wine, coffee, and fried eggs with jasmine. I don’t get lost anymore and I can easily show you some amazing places to eat. An interview that I conducted today told me that people in china readily believe in climate change but the younger generations are more likely to care about sustainability. The hardest culture thing to deal with was the insane overuse of plastic that happens in china. Even the things that don’t need very much packaging are covered in at least 2 layers of plastic. Something that I’m soon will quickly change as plastic builds up in landfills.

  9. Pele Voncujovi says:

    I actually love going the Shijeibei bar in Xizhou. It might seem like a ridiculous topic to focus on, and I might sound like an alcoholic but that’s besides the point. Tuesday night marked a sort of transformative shift in my thinking about China and Chinese people. It was by far one of the rowdiest and most enjoyable night I’ve had this year. A couple students gathered at the bar to watch the Sweden vs Switzerland game, but none of us really cared about any of those teams. We were mostly there to enjoy the vibe and have a little farewell drinkup for Danjie. Out of nowhere, the coolest 43-year-old man we we had met at the bar a couple times offered to pay for all our drinks. How Dopeee! After one round, he invited Sam and I to join him and his boys on his table and we began engaging in countless rounds of “Cheers and Gambeii”. It might sound absurd but I think we said cheers at least 60 times each over the span of an hour. You’re probably wondering why the hell we said cheers almost every minute. My explanation, we couldn’t really verbally communicate. Our love for Corona, soccer and new cultural experiences bound us, our enthusiasm to meet and enjoy each others company kept us engaged and our mutual curiosity about each others cultures kept the mood exciting. ‘Big brother’, as I now refer to him, occasionally scratched his head as he tried extremely hard to express himself in English, but every now and then Sam was able to translate what they were saying and they’d congratulate him on how amazing his Junguo Hua was. I also played my part and did my very best to comprehend as much as possible with the little survival Chinese I know. I felt that we both shared a strong mutual desire to understand and learn about each other. One might argue that there’s no substance to such drunken interactions but I had never felt so in touch with people in XIzhou. As much as I tried not to experience Xizhou from the veranda, I feel I did not stray very far from it. Although we run around asking people a bunch of questions for our classes I never really felt like I connected with anyone. The language barrier played a big role in my sense of disconnection to the place, and that is why this interaction was so special to me. When spoken language failed, we just said cheers and hugged each other smiling from cheek to cheek.

    I believe I’ll remember this experience for a long time because it transformed me quite a bit. To contextualize this experience I’d like to share a bit of my background. I grew up surrounded by Ghanaians who were not necessarily the biggest fans of the Chinese. Over the last couple years, I’ve witnessed a rising animosity against Chinese people due to their environmentally destructive operations ranging from deforestation and overfishing to illegal gold mining. The Chinese play prominent roles in environmental destruction all across Africa and to be quite honest, it made me detest China quite a bit. To add to all this, the Japanese community I grew up around never spoke well about China, so my very upbringing always exemplified elements of anti-Chinese sentiment. That is why I find it quite ironic that I was able to experience such a meaningful human connection with a bunch of middle-aged Chinese men at the most anti-Japanese bar I could find. (Since Japan qualified to the knockout stage of the world cup, the flag was burnt even more).

    In my eyes, ‘Big brother’ doesn’t look any different from the Chinese I see in Ghana conducting illegal deforestation and gold-mining operations. He completely fits the criteria. He’s a middle-aged Chinese man. My interaction with Big brother superseded all subconscious stereotypes and superficial presumptions I had about Chinese people. I felt a love for him and a genuine interest to know more about him. I feel this human element was missing in my upbringing. I’ve come to believe that having a genuine human connection and appreciation that transcends all cultures and stereotypes is an important step towards charting a sustainable future. I felt they cared for us as much as we cared for them. Dehumanizing a people and thinking of them predominantly in negative terms only divides us further and doesn’t allow us to truly communicate and have effective and important dialogue. It also helped me create a split between national policies and nationals. Obviously we did not have any deep conversations about sino-African relationships, but I believe being invested in each other and being willing to listen and learn from each others concerns, joys and aspirations is an important precondition to sustainable relationships. I was having so much fun that I was high-key in the mood to break curphew. But when the time came, Big brother pat our shoulders and told us to ‘Go home and don’t be late’.

  10. kwame Mukasa says:

    Reflecting on my time in Xizhou, I think I have appreciated so many different aspects of what is unique to this place. Of all the experiences I have had, I think the food has left a resounding memory on my time in Xizhou. After long days of work in the field or an early start to the day getting back to steamed rice, chicken stew, and succulent cucumbers drenched in balsamic sauce would completely transform my hungry state of being into, energy and joy. I just want to say “thank you Aye for the food.”
    The home-based had the food that brought comfort and it was part of what made my stay feel like home, but it was accompanied by the opportunities to eat in some of the areas many restaurants and homes.

    Food is my guilty pleasure, but there is something about how a table of food generates satisfies the body and soul. The communal style dish sharing in all the restaurants reminded me of sitting at home. Sitting with friends and professors, the conversation and sharing stories as we sit over a table and explore an integral part of the culture of this part of Yunnan. Xizhou baba (baaaaabababababa) was this catchy snack that seemed to be at every roadside and alleyway. With families who have been making the dish for generations, the is baba a cuisine that is as much an identifier of the culture as the clothing and the lifestyle. I think the prevalence of the unique cuisine in Xizhou has helped employ countless members of society through locally owned businesses. In addition, local business is being supported by the agricultural production of the nearby areas. Because agriculture still makes a major part of the local economy it only makes sense that the freshness and quality of food stays at a high standard.

    The Bai cheese preparation process was a glance into the lifestyle of a small section of society that sourced food from milk. She explained that she was capable of making about 100 pieces of cheese in one day. Our efforts to replicate her skills were impressive and made the mozzarella type cheese. I just wish I could have found out more about what it means to be a Muslim Bai family living in Xizhou. Right after the cheese making, we visited a restaurant where some of the students opted to try donkey meat. I wasn’t interested in exploring such that kind of meat, but I openly waited for people’s thoughts on how the meat tasted.

    I am extremely grateful for the food we have had and I think it’s safe to say we as the SOE have been treated to an experience of Bai flavoured food that we will remember distinctly. I am not sure what to expect, but I get the feeling the food in Kunming will be very different. Even if it doesn’t quite match the flavour and localness of the food that arrives on the plate I understand that each place has its own unique aspects because cuisine like culture is a dynamic entity that is adapted to a specific place and their people. Whether or not the food in Kunming matches the high standard set by Xizhou, I will keep an open mind and give the food a chance to make an impression on my experience.

  11. Molly Welsh says:

    In the short time I’ve spent in Xi Zhou there is an immense number of people and places I hold close to my heart. One experience that I have reflected on was a hike Holly, Jason, Michael, his two friends and I took up to an illegal marble mine. I say illegal only because as of two years ago all mining is illegal; however, it is still very much in use. The hike up was quite the adventure. Just the day before a few people from SOE had taken a treacherous hike to Jinding Temple without the help of a cable car. After that I absolutely 100% knew that was physically the most difficult thing I have ever done… until just one day later. The hike started on switchbacks which as easy and we were all very light hearted about it and after about an hour and a half it took a turn. I mean this literally is figuratively; a turn off the gravel trail and literally climbing up a dirty path. When I say climb I mean, catapulting yourself up with roots and branches; arms and legs involved. This continued and was intermitted with walking up an unstable rocky muddy path for another two and half hours. Yet, the top was magnificent, worth every step of the way. Just before we got to the mine, the entrance revealed a plethora of marble clasts leading up to where the mining took place. At the top there were tools of all sorts; fire pits and tea pots left presented groups spending long hours in this place. Holes in the boulders told the story of miners using drills and sticking dynamite in the cliff face to break apart the rock. There is a sense of danger, thrill, exhaustion and joy all in the same space at the same time. Dalishi is highly valued internationally, and rightfully so, it’s not an easy task to get to these areas, the excavation, the cutting and polishing and also the artistic eye needed to choose a rock face to reveal a beautiful painting. As with most things, there is a negative impact on the environment after exploiting the earth. The excavation process causes slope instability in the area which leads to further impacts. The quickest result from slope instability is landslides; this can be anything from minor landslides you see on the sides of the trail to a complete catastrophe, smothering wildlife, homes and humans. Another potential impact occurs when there is a near by water source. Erosion from unstable slope sources an increase in turbidity which causes fish kills and contaminated the water supply. It is difficult to find answers to these complex issues, on one hand humans rely on mining to make a decent living and on the other we rely on water. As previously mentioned, Dalishi is valued around the world and sold internationally. There is a huge retail for it in areas near Dali as well such as a city as big as Kunming. I am very curious to see the “dreamstone” Kunming has to offer and the mark up, if any, on this precious stone.

  12. Nikki says:

    I have heard about tie-dye before I came to Xizhou, but I have never got any chance to witness this, experience this, or get to know this culture. When I arrived Xizhou and walked around in this historical and cultural place, I found there are different kinds of tie-dye places here. When I walked into all these tie-dye stores, the theme of the store is always plain blue and pure white, and the store usually has a modern and delicate design. The one tie-dye place we went to was quite different — it doesn’t have any of the characteristics of the above. This place is called Duanliping tie dye place, and this place is quite big, almost takes the whole yard as well as some inside rooms for all tie-dye processes and tie-dye products. The theme of this tie dye place is dark blue, and one thing is very different is that the tie-dye products there have different colors other than blue. I talked to my taxi driver on my way to the tie-dye place what makes this tie dye place so unique from others. The cloth people use there is called Ma, but it is a kind of thin Ma. Also, people use the most natural dye to color cloths, and people only add some modern colors to create more expressions on clothes. A man who was coloring the cloth said that they use a plant to extract this dark blue, which is called isatis root. I cannot stay there for too long because the smell makes me feel awful, but I know that is the natural smell from this plant, and the smell will remain in my product for a while.
    The taxi driver also said to me that people in other places buy dyes from somewhere else that is not smelly for the sake of customers. And a man in one of the tie-dye places told me that some people will even put some fragrant stuff into dyes to make the final product more attractive in terms of smell. In addition, men are more dominated in Bai culture, and there is usually a competition between women, and men usually compare women to women that who has the best hand-making skills. Fortunately, there are only Bai women in the traditional tie-dye place to preserve tie-dye techniques. But I appreciate that there is no barrier between genders in modern tie-dye places, and everyone who is interested in doing tie-dye is all welcomed to experience it.
    When I walked into these modern tie-dye places for the second time, they told me that some of them are not local people, and they came here a couple years ago and accidentally got a chance to know tie-dye more. After they learned the whole process of making various tie-dye products, they decided to stay here and open a tie-dye business in Dali. A man in the store told me that he combined his own idea to make tie-dye, which is that the original tie-dye products usually have regular and symmetric patterns, but he likes making unsymmetrical and more random patterns on products. Under the influence of Bai culture, more people get a chance to know tie-dye, witness tie-dye, and experience tie-dye. However, do customers really know tie-dye? Do customers experience are the real and traditional tie-dye? How could people balance business and tradition? These questions have remained in my mind for a while without any answers. I’m thankful that it seems there is no threat to the fade away of tie-dye culture recently, and more people are willing to pursue this cultural heritage and share to more people about this historical and cultural Bai technique to others around the world.
    In the bigger city of Kunming, I’m excited to see whether there are still people who are still clinging on doing traditional products or pursuing on traditional culture instead of affecting by rapid economic growth in the urban area.

  13. Sarah Haedrich says:

    Our second day here after class, a group of five of us hopped on bikes and rode down to the lake. Ever since, five o’clock means it’s time to go for a bike ride. I might be a bias since I love biking when I’m in the United States, but biking here has been absolutely favorite part. Not only just the bikes from Yanzhouran, but also watching the locals use bikes for various purposes. Biking has allowed me to get beyond the walking radius of Xizhou on my own time. I’ve biked down to the lake and watched pairs of Chinese workers in boats harvesting wads of weeds from the lake then slowly paddling to shore, where even more Chinese workers were gathered to sort the wads. I’ve seen up close all the deserted waterfront hotels that surround the lake, which we’ve mentioned in class. I’ve biked through the road by the flower farm, squeezing through Chinese tourists packed onto the street (I was a tourist to the Chinese tourists, how meta). I biked up to the town that sits on the slope leading up to the mountains after dinnertime and watched multiple generations of Chinese families standing in the street enjoying their social hour. The bikes allow me to see beyond the scope of familiar Xizhou while allowing me to still soak up the smells, sounds, and feelings that are lost when riding a bus. On a bike, I can follow my impulse to go down the back alleys and through the paths in the cornfields.
    This was my experience on a bike. The locals have a different experience. I’ve seen multiple locals carrying wood on a mini trailer hitched to the back of their bike, using the bike as a work tool. I’ve also seen parents holding their child on a tandem bike, using the bike for transportation. I’ve seen trails of Bai women in the morning with trailers on their bike heading to the market in the morning. I’ve seen a guard biking perusing through a rice paddy so slowly that I was running faster than he was biking. No matter what myself or others were using the bike for, we were all moving in a sustainable way (I don’t know the environmental impact of the production of the bike though).
    The bike for me is a beautiful instrument that allows a person to remain connected to their environment while riding, and has multiple uses for work and leisure. In the United States, we designed our cities for cars. Only recently, we pushed back the use of cars and encouraged the use of bikes by building bike lanes and promoting biking as a way to cut down carbon footprints. I wonder if China will phase out bikes and transition to completely electric bikes as they modernize. Or will they start campaigning for people to keep biking as part of their environmental movement? As China develops, will biking become a recreational sport? In Kunming, I hope there are bikes so we can go exploring, although I doubt the biking will be as easy going as here. I’m guessing that public transportation will play a big role in moving people around the city. I will miss the bikes here, but public transportation is another environmental initiative that I’m excited to experience.

  14. Charlotte Massey says:

    There are so many aspects I love about Dali. I am already scheming how I can come back to Xizhou someday. I love how friendly the people are, the gorgeous views and rich culture of artisans. The phenomenon I’ll miss the most might just be the incredible and fresh local cuisine.

    The food in Dali is fresh and clearly prepared quickly after harvest. The market is full of people selling produce that still looks very plump and firm. Much of the farming happens outside of Xizhou and we saw farms on our excursion to Jinding temple and on the drive to Old Town Dali. One group from my Understanding Place class visited the market at the end of the lake, and that may be where much of the food that ends up in Xizhou comes from. It’s not exactly farm-to-table, but there isn’t much distance between the fields and your plate.
    The easy accessibility of fresh vegetables clearly influences local cuisine. I love the fresh sautéed veggies we have with every meal and I love getting fresh spinach and lichen and jasmine flowers in my food. Eating lichen salad on the hike down from Jinding temple with Lena was pretty special, and the variety and freshness of the mushrooms here is phenominal.
    In Kunming, the distance between our table and the fields will be much further. This means vegetables are likely to be more expensive and less fresh. We might not see as wide of a variety at every random restaurant and there may be fewer people with vegetables laid out on the street, selling what they’ve grown in their yards or gathered on the mountain. Sanitation may be a larger concern because the vegetables are exposed to more transport time and the produce may be stored longer.
    I’m interested to see whether this separation from where the food is grown changes people’s perspective on food waste or sustainability. My observation in the United States has been that the closer people are to the preparation of their food, the less likely they are to waste it. If you raised a chicken yourself, gather the eggs every day and then kill it for a special dinner, you won’t want to waste any of it. If you grow and harvest a salad yourself or if you cook a pie from scratch, you cherish every bite. However, if you see food as simply a monetary transaction and lose touch with the ground where it grew and the resources that went into its production, it’s much easier to toss out your leftovers. Obviously this is a waste of resources and has sustainability implications. We waste horrendous amounts of food in the United States, and it seems that a fair amount is wasted here as well.
    I’m also interested in whether I’ll be able to find delicious fresh veggie dishes in Kunming. Alex says there are many good restaurants, but you have to look for them. You can’t just wander into any restaurant and get a delicious meal like you can in Dali.

  15. kwame Mukasa says:

    Reflecting on my time in Xizhou, I think I have appreciated so many different aspects of what is unique to this place. Of all the experiences I have had, I think the food has left a resounding memory on my time in Xizhou. After long days of work in the field or an early start to the day getting back to steamed rice, chicken stew, and succulent cucumbers drenched in balsamic sauce would completely transform my hungry state of being into, energy and joy. I just want to say “thank you Aye for the food.”
    The home-based had the food that brought comfort and it was part of what made my stay feel like home, but it was accompanied by the opportunities to eat in some of the areas many restaurants and homes.

    Food is my guilty pleasure, but there is something about how a table of food generates satisfies the body and soul. The communal style dish sharing in all the restaurants reminded me of sitting at home. Sitting with friends and professors, the conversation and sharing stories as we sit over a table and explore an integral part of the culture of this part of Yunnan. Xizhou baba (baaaaabababababa) was this catchy snack that seemed to be at every roadside and alleyway. With families who have been making the dish for generations, the is baba a cuisine that is as much an identifier of the culture as the clothing and the lifestyle. I think the prevalence of the unique cuisine in Xizhou has helped employ countless members of society through locally owned businesses. In addition, local business is being supported by the agricultural production of the nearby areas. Because agriculture still makes a major part of the local economy it only makes sense that the freshness and quality of food stays at a high standard.

    The Bai cheese preparation process was a glance into the lifestyle of a small section of society that sourced food from milk. She explained that she was capable of making about 100 pieces of cheese in one day. Our efforts to replicate her skills were impressive and made the mozzarella type cheese. I just wish I could have found out more about what it means to be a Muslim Bai family living in Xizhou. Right after the cheese making, we visited a restaurant where some of the students opted to try donkey meat. I wasn’t interested in exploring such that kind of meat, but I openly waited for people’s thoughts on how the meat tasted.

    I am extremely grateful for the food we have had and I think it’s safe to say we as the SOE have been treated to an experience of Bai flavoured food that we will remember distinctly. I am not sure what to expect, but I get the feeling the food in Kunming will be very different. Even if it doesn’t quite match the flavour and localness of the food that arrives on the plate I understand that each place has its own unique aspects because cuisine like culture is a dynamic entity that is adapted to a specific place and their people. I think with more mouths to feed the higher quantity of food may happen at the expense of quality. Whether or not the food in Kunming matches the high standard set by Xizhou, I will keep an open mind and give the food a chance to make an impression on my experience.

  16. Hellen Li says:

    I never expected to care so deeply about the people and the culture of Dali. Being here has really changed me in positive ways from my newfound confidence of exploring alone, being more comfortable putting myself in new situations, and being more willingly to speak Chinese to new people. It is so hard to leave Dali and all the wonderful people I have met along the way, but I am excited to start the next chapter in Kunming.

    After hearing Brian Linden speak about his collection of different antique items around the Linden Center, I quickly became fascinated by the items and the rich history each has. He mentioned purchasing a local God currently resting in the TV room (I think?) from a temple that was about to burn it. Brian blindfolded this God so that he will never know he left his original resting place. Upon hearing this, I had some many different questions about antiques and why people would just throw beautiful, history filled items away. There are multiple antique stores in XiZhou and other stores that use antiques to decorate their shops. The art of collecting and selling these antiques are sustainable. Instead of letting them be burned, thrown away, or destroyed, people are starting to recognize the value in these ancient artifacts and its story.

    Today I went to one of the more “Westernized” teashops where the owner said she caters mostly to foreigners who are going after what they perceive as authentic Yunnan – locals do not think her shop is authentic – by decorating her shop with antiques and ceramics that merely look old. She told me she collected her table top from someone in the mountains for a cheap price and converted it into a tea table, a beautiful character filled wooden wall full of different stories with each panel, and handmade incense burns. The rising phenomenon of looking and appreciating antiques is sustainable as it preserves history and prevents handmade items from going to waste. For example, the tea owner’s tea table was made for wood. If it was thrown out just because it was considered an old invaluable antique, that would have been multiple trees wasted. Instead, she found a way to convert it and use it.

    A big city such as Kunming should have antique shops, but I do not think it will be as abundant as in Dali in the sense of antique shops per square feet. Personally, I think people tend to go to more rural places to antique items to grasp its origins better and really interact with the sellers, learning from their love of their pieces. I am curious to see if there will be different types of antiques in Kunming; hopefully there will be some antique paintings or Chinese poem calligraphy from past dynasties.

  17. kwame Mukasa says:

    Reflecting on my time in Xizhou, I think I have appreciated so many different aspects of what is unique to this place. Of all the experiences I have had, I think the food has left a resounding memory on my time in Xizhou. After long days of work in the field or an early start to the day getting back to steamed rice, chicken stew, and succulent cucumbers drenched in balsamic sauce would completely transform my hungry state of being into, energy and joy. I just want to say thank you to the Ayes for the incredible food.
    The home-based had the food that brought comfort and it was part of what made my stay feel like home, but it was accompanied by the opportunities to eat in some of the areas many restaurants and homes.

    Food is my guilty pleasure, but there is something about how a table of food generates satisfies the body and soul. The communal style dish sharing in all the restaurants reminded me of sitting at home. Sitting with friends and professors, the conversation and sharing stories as we sit over a table and explore an integral part of the culture of this part of Yunnan. Xizhou baba (baaaaabababababa) was this catchy snack that seemed to be at every roadside and alleyway. With families who have been making the dish for generations, the is baba a cuisine that is as much an identifier of the culture as the clothing and the lifestyle. I think the prevalence of the unique cuisine in Xizhou has helped employ countless members of society through locally owned businesses. In addition, local business is being supported by the agricultural production of the nearby areas. Because agriculture still makes a major part of the local economy it only makes sense that the freshness and quality of food stays at a high standard.

    The Bai cheese preparation process was a glance into the lifestyle of a small section of society that sourced food from milk. She explained that she was capable of making about 100 pieces of cheese in one day. Our efforts to replicate her skills were impressive and made the mozzarella type cheese. I just wish I could have found out more about what it means to be a Muslim Bai family living in Xizhou. Right after the cheese making, we visited a restaurant where some of the students opted to try donkey meat. I wasn’t interested in exploring such that kind of meat, but I openly waited for people’s thoughts on how the meat tasted.

    I am extremely grateful for the food we have had and I think it’s safe to say we as the SOE have been treated to an experience of Bai flavoured food that we will remember distinctly. I am not sure what to expect, but I get the feeling the food in Kunming will be very different. Even if it doesn’t quite match the flavour and localness of the food that arrives on the plate I understand that each place has its own unique aspects because cuisine like culture is a dynamic entity that is adapted to a specific place and their people. with more mouths to feed I think the increased quantity of food may come at the expense of quality. Whether or not the food in Kunming matches the high standard set by Xizhou, I will keep an open mind and give the food a chance to make an impression on my experience.

  18. Raquel says:

    Hello everyone. I’m definitely feeling a bit sad that we are leaving in a couple of days!

    My favorite phenomenon in lovely Xizhou, and the thing that I will miss the most, is the sunset. The sunset in Xizhou is probably one of the most beautiful I’ve seen in my entire life, partially because of the capricious clouds over the mountains, but also because of the low buildings and little development around us.

    When I look at the sunset on the upstairs terrace of Yang Zhao Ran, I can see dozens of egrets flying low over the roofs of Xizhou. I can see swallows and sparrows flying back home, and I can feel the breeze and the sun touching my skin. The peace and the quietness make me feel comfortable and happy.

    My expectations for Kunming are completely different. From my experience living in cities, I don’t think I will see any egrets flying over the tall buildings, and barely any swallows and sparrows flying low. I don’t think I will be able to see the sunset the same way I can see it in Xizhou, with taller buildings covering the view and layers of air pollution and light pollution covering the horizon.

    Development and urbanization are two of the factors that we have seen in the past weeks with the strongest sustainability implications, and they are also the main reasons why I don’t expect to see very good sunsets in Kunming. However, urbanization goes much further than just missing out on a sunset or not being able to see the birds.

    Half of the global populations are currently living in cities, with two thirds of the population expected to live in cities by 2050. The very concentrated energy use in big cities such as Kunming leads to greater air pollution with big impacts on human health, and the exhaust of cars and different means of transportation produces elevated lead levels. Uncollected waste, floods caused by impervious surfaces, loss of urban tree cover, and the loss of habitats are some more effects of the increase in urbanization, but they are only a small part of the situation.

    One of the things that excite me about going to Kunming is discovering a bit more about the way the government is dealing with all of these issues in the city, or maybe the way it’s NOT dealing with them. I want to learn about the different uses and sources of energy in Kunming, about transportation, waste disposal, housing strategies, and green spaces. Despite not being in beautiful Xizhou anymore and not being able to see the unforgettable sunsets, I’m hoping to learn a lot and live an experience that changes the way I see China in terms of urbanization and population growth.

  19. Alex Haver says:

    SOLAR WATER HEATERS <3

    Some of my favorite things are light switches, tvs, microwaves and running water. What do those all have in common? ENTROPY! They all turn order into disorder.
    How?
    Dinosaurs!
    Not exactly, but as old biotic material decomposes, they gets pushed and pressed and heated and pressed some more, over hundreds of thousands of years, until these old biotic materials are in tight little organized pockets of carbon, tucked away underneath the earth. But what do we do with these organized pockets of carbon? We take these perfectly organized things and disperse them around the air we breath…like… spilling a jar of jelly beans on the ground, then having someone trip on them. But why do we do it? Spilling jelly beans makes our lights turn on and our water run. But when we burn fossil fuels, we pollute the air. It is a fact that burning fossil fuels puts carbon in the air. Unfortunately, with more carbon in the air, less infrared radiation is reflected off of the earth, and then our earth gets too hot, which is bad. So why don't we stop? Cause light switches and running water are the best. Is there a way to make the lights turn on and the water run with out spilling the beans? Well as it just so happens, there is. Just a few hundred miles above us, there is a very large jar of jelly beans, creating disorder on a scale unimaginable by the laws the define our earth. Turning fuel into heat and light, spreading all over space. Yes, its the sun.
    As it just so happened, we can actually use the energy created by the sun. We can use wind, gravity or little photons, all created by the sun, to make our lights turn on. What is so magical about XiZhou? Its ability to use that big jar of jelly beans up in the sky to power this town, through hydroelectric damns and solar water heaters.
    Solar water heaters are the best. Why do they have them all across XiZhou? To make sure the hydroelectric plant can support the whole town, people get solar water heaters. They are so amazing because they are cheap ways to heat water, and they are extremely practical and efficient. In Kunming, I hope to find more things powered by the sun, and more solar water heaters!

  20. Benjy Renton says:

    It’s hard to believe that our time in Xizhou is coming to an end. After our trip to the wetlands in Heqing and Lijiang Old Town on Friday, we will take the new bullet train to Kunming, speeding through China’s countryside into the city in under two hours. For the next three weeks, we will trade in our views of rice paddies and Cangshan for traffic, skyscrapers and shopping malls. The urban-rural contrast in China is huge, and many of the objects and places where we have been researching for the past few weeks will simply not be present in Kunming. One of such items is the thousands of 亩 (a Chinese unit of area) of rice fields surrounding Xizhou.

    Since Xizhou has as history as a predominantly agricultural village, rice fields have been a major part of the city. On an expedition with Kwame where we visited a old Soviet-style pump from Erhai lake and farmland adjacent to it, we interviewed some local farmers. Combining this interview with some thoughts from Brian Linden, we learned that in order to increase grain production during the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution, a lot of the farmland was converted into cash crops to sustain a population. Now, due to the Protect Erhai project, cash crops have been banned and the area has turned into corn fields. This got me thinking about sustainability and how this area will be in the future. In this example, I see three forms of sustainability: economic, cultural and environmental. Economic: will this area be able to support people in the future and allow farmers to make a living? Cultural: will this farming culture be preserved for generations to come? Environmental: what is the effect of the Protect Erhai project on these farmers and what can we expect in the future?

    When we travel to Kunming, we will be met with a whole new city landscape and will most likely be confronted with new environmental challenges (especially around Dianchi). I think the rice fields, in addition to being a cultural symbol of China, serve as an example of sustainability in the area. During the restoration of the Linden Centre, Brian planted the rice fields near the property, ensuring that the local ecosystems can be preserved. While in Kunming, I am sure we will find other ways to look at the urban landscape and contrast it with our rural setting in Xizhou.

  21. Yoshinari Fukuzawa says:

    Having been on this Earth for 19 years already, I have never met someone as nice as a tea shop owner I met in Xizhou. I have mentioned him already several times in the previous blog posts, but he is really someone who has made my experience here in Xizhou so much more interesting and fun. He is the owner of a tea shop called 下关沱茶 (Xiaguan tuocha). Every time I go there, I learn something new about tea from him. Today, I went to his shop for the third time, and besides his generous gift of 糯米饭 (glutinous rice?) in a pineapple, he also brought his friend who started telling us all about tea. Drinking around 20 cups of tea and conversing for two and a half hours, I have learned so much from him.

    At one point in the conversation, I told him different types of tea I drink at home. He then suggested me to drink Pu’er tea and black tea, explaining that Pu’er tea and some more expensive black tea come from old trees. According to him, there are two types of plants that can produce tea—shrubs and trees. Even in trees, there are different types, and within these classifications, the most valued type of tree is 古树, or old trees. Tea leaves from old trees are extremely valued because they are not sprayed with pesticides. Because they are grown without any human interference, the environment around them is mostly pristine. In other words, old trees do not need to be sprayed with pesticides because they already have a very well-established ecosystem in place where enough pests are eaten by natural predators. On the contrary, shrubs are more easily grown and shorter. Since these plants are younger in an ecological timescale, they mostly do not have a very well-established ecosystem in place. As a result, pesticides are used on most shrubs.

    Assuming that what he told me was true, I have never heard anything of the sort. Yet, this makes me think about the environmental and health implications of tea production and consumption. I would like to do some research on this to see if his statement is actually true, but I wonder if I will ever find an answer anywhere. Since tea is now such a huge economy in China, I do not think there will be an actual data or information that tells the truth about the amount of pesticides used on various tea plants. I believe that this piece of information that I got today is something that only an inner circle of tea experts knows about.

    I wonder what would happen if this piece of information is widely shared among consumers. I believe the outcome can go two ways. First, if the consumers demand more for pesticide-free tea, tea plantations may actually listen and meet the demand of these consumers by actually moving toward an organic tea plantation. I believe that this process will take a very long time, and in a place where not all information is available to the public, it is quite hard to achieve. I believe the second outcome is more likely, and that is, tea plantations will meet the consumer demand by covering up the truth. I hope this will never happen as this only aggravates the environment that is already chocked with pesticides. I wonder how tea economy will be like in the next several years.

    In Kunming, when I interview tea shop owners, I would like to test if they are aware of anything like this. I am excited to see if there is another tea shop owner who is as expert as the tea shop owner I found in Xizhou. I really hope I can find one. Talking to a tea expert is an entirely different world that I have never experienced before, and I am learning a lot from it. I look forward to be in Kunming!

  22. Jay Mahato says:

    My stay at Xi Zhou has provided me with wide varieties of natural and cultural impressions which are beautifully imprinted in my head. Whether it was to visit the early market at Xi Zhou or to hike two hours to get the famous Cloud Path of Dali region and enjoy its breathtaking mystic views.
    There are more memories than just the market and the hike. One of them is a visit to the fishing island: Jinsou in Lake Erhai. It is a fishing village where fishermen are not allowed to fish except for 15 days in a year. As the Lake Erhai was getting polluted, as a measure to reduce the pollution, fishing was slowly banned and by the end of 2017, it completely banned except the 15 days in a year mentioned above. After the fishing ban in the Lake Erhai, people lost their major source of income: fishing. There were no in the beginning. So, the people started migrating to other places to seek job opportunities to earn sufficient amount of money to operate their family smoothly. According to Martin, the guy from the island with whom we had some Q & A at the end of the day on the island, “at the moment, tourism is filling the gaps of unemployment”. A lot of local people doesn’t have to leave the island giving the example of our tour guide who was a local Bai female. He added the main attraction of the island: Dragon Cave has created a lot of employment opportunities. Nonetheless, a huge hotel right opposite of island on the mainland concerns me because the whole hill is turned into a hotel which is not even 10 t0 15 meters away from the lake. More other grand hotels are being constructed near the lake which further raises how these big hotels are allowed to build on the shores of the lake? How sustainable is it to have such infrastructures very near to the lake? On a different note, as the fishing is banned will not the number of fishes will go very high in the lake and that might create an imbalance in the lake’s natural ecological interactions?
    Another scene, I vividly remember is also related to water but with river water and its purification. As to clean and improve the water quality in the Lake Erahai, river water is directly taken from the mountains to the lake. All the rivers’ banks from Old Town Dali to Xi Zhou are concrete walls. Even the riverbeds are concrete. Wanhauxi river: nearest to Xi Zhou is an example of it in which we did our discharge measurement for our environmental analysis class at different points: near the mountains, near the national highway and near the lake. It is fascinating to me because the natural environment of the river is replaced by man-made structures. So, I wonder to what extent, these artificial structures can keep water clean in long run than the natural environment of the rivers could have done?
    Xi Zhou has given me a lot of things to think about and contemplate about.
    While moving to Kunming is making me excited as well as nervous. I am looking forward to what Kunming has to offer me: new lifestyle, culture, and artifacts. At the same time, I am a little worried how the university dining hall’s food will be? How bad or good the quality of the air will be? How the Kunming’s hospitality will be because I remember one of the street vendor guys in Xi Zhou took his scooter and showed us the way to the Benzhu Temple when my friend and I asked him just for the direction. I hope Kunming will show me the same level of hospitality yet in its own unique way.

  23. Lina Beron Echavarria says:

    Xi Zhou food has been spicy, bitter, tangy, and sweet, but above all, Xi Zhou food has been plentiful and extremely fresh. No matter when or where, food here tastes like the soil that birthed it. The lichens from my ultimate favorite restaurant in Xi Zhou, Yuan Kou Zi, are as crisp as the ones I ate hiking down Ji Zi mountain. Chinese cabbage, white fava beans, and goat cheese: dishes so fresh that they pop up in my mind like fresh memories. Is this the nature of the countryside, or will we be able to find this kind of food in Kunming?

    Freshness is one thing, and I love it. It shows that despite the hectares and hectares of repetitive corn-fields, there is a wide variety of goodies in people’s backyards. Here, variety is commonplace, but it is also appreciated. However, with deliciousness and freshness of food comes surplus. We’ve often been given so much food that it ends up hanging out on the same plates it came in, awaiting to be devoured. I thought it could be us, unfamiliar to Yunnan dishes and quantities, but I’ve noticed it on other tables. Plates brimming with fried fish and Ma Po tofu despite big round full bellies. Is food waste as much of an issue here as it is in the U.S.? Is the food that is left behind “wasted”? If so, is it related in any way to its quality of freshness? Does China’s 12% increase in agricultural productivity play a role in this issue?

    These are all questions that I hope to answer during my time in Kunming. Perhaps things will change significantly when we start swiping our cards in Yunnan University’s cafeteria to get a college student’s meal. Perhaps then, as I gobble up my rice, will I think back at Xi Zhou and the egrets land that on its rice paddies in the most symbiotic of relationships. Perhaps this is precisely why Xi Zhou’s rice tastes like pockets of tasty rain drops: I’ve been able to participate in its making. I’ve witnessed the paddy’s visitors, all dressed up in white gowns; I’ve heard the green stalks move by means of farmhand and wind; and I’ve gotten sniffs of unknown waters that congregate in a pleasant dampness. Will we approach the food that fills our bellies in the same way as we distance form its source? We’re about to find out!

  24. Jay Mahato says:

    My stay at Xi Zhou has provided me with wide varieties of natural and cultural impressions which are beautifully imprinted in my head. Whether it was to visit the early market at Xi Zhou or to hike two hours to get the famous Cloud Path of Dali region and enjoy its breathtaking mystic views.
    There are more memories than just the market and the hike. One of them is a visit to the fishing island: Jinsou in Lake Erhai. It is a fishing village where fishermen are not allowed to fish except for 15 days in a year. As the Lake Erhai was getting polluted, as a measure to reduce the pollution, fishing was slowly banned and by the end of 2017, it completely banned except the 15 days in a year mentioned above. After the fishing ban in the Lake Erhai, people lost their major source of income: fishing. There were no in the beginning. So, the people started migrating to other places to seek job opportunities to earn sufficient amount of money to operate their family smoothly. According to Martin, the guy from the island with whom we had some Q & A at the end of the day on the island, “at the moment, tourism is filling the gaps of unemployment”. A lot of local people doesn’t have to leave the island giving the example of our tour guide who was a local Bai female. He added the main attraction of the island: Dragon Cave has created a lot of employment opportunities. Nonetheless, a huge hotel right opposite of island on the mainland concerns me because the whole hill is turned into a hotel which is not even 10 t0 15 meters away from the lake. More other grand hotels are being constructed near the lake which further raises how these big hotels are allowed to build on the shores of the lake? How sustainable is it to have such infrastructures very near to the lake? On a different note, as the fishing is banned will not the number of fishes will go very high in the lake and that might create an imbalance in the lake’s natural ecological interactions?
    Another scene, I vividly remember is also related to water but with river water and its purification. As to clean and improve the water quality in the Lake Erahai, river water is directly taken from the mountains to the lake. All the rivers’ banks from Old Town Dali to Xi Zhou are concrete walls. Even the riverbeds are concrete. Wanhauxi river: nearest to Xi Zhou is an example of it in which we did our discharge measurement for our environmental analysis class at different points: near the mountains, near the national highway and near the lake. It is fascinating to me because the natural environment of the river is replaced by man-made structures. So, I wonder to what extent, these artificial structures can keep water clean in long run than the natural environment of the rivers could have done?
    Xi Zhou has given me a lot of things to think about and contemplate about.
    While moving to Kunming is making me excited as well as nervous. I am looking forward to what Kunming has to offer me: new lifestyle, culture, and artifacts. At the same time, I am little worried how the university dining hall’s food will be? How bad or good the quality of the air will be? How the Kunming’s hospitality will be because I remember one of the street vendor guys in Xi Zhou took his scooter and showed us the way to the Benzhu Temple when my friend and I asked him just for the direction. I hope Kunming will show me the same level of hospitality yet in its own unique way.

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