Last Build Date: Sat, 01 Oct 2016 15:28:17 +0800
Fri, 30 Sep 2016 10:35:00 +0800Saving the lives of children is tireless work. The surgical repair of complex congenital heart conditions is prohibitively expensive and children with these types of birth defects cannot be treated within Yunnan province. Many cases are simply chalked up as lost causes. However, for more than a decade, 73 year-old Dr Robert Detrano has crisscrossed provincial cities and countryside towns in search of infants and children with complex heart disease. Next month, he will set out on a 163-kilometer walk from Dali (大理) to Lijiang (丽江) to raise money and awareness for children suffering from these life-threatening ailments. Begining October 14, Detrano will embark on the journey, highlighting the situations of children such as Lu Yong — diagnosed at the age of two with severe cyanotic heart disease — who cannot receive adequate insurance reimbursements to cover the costs of his surgery. The hike will begin at Erhai Gate in Dali Old Town (大理古城洱海门) at 7am on October 14. Detrano will finish at Lijiang's Dayan Old Town (丽江古城大研古城). Detrano explains that the walk will be difficult, and for good reason, saying: [quote]I want it to be challenging and painful. Many of the kids have constant trouble breathing. They can't exercise. One little girl we've identified has a problem with her aorta, and as a result, her brain doesn't ever get enough oxygen to function properly. She constantly has severe headaches. I want the people walking with me, and anyone who hears about the walk, to get just a glimpse of how difficult and painful it often is for these kids to live.[/quote] China-California Heart Watch, the charitable organization founded by Detrano in 2006, has thus far helped fund and perform over five-hundred heart surgeries on children in Yunnan. Thirty of those cases were diagnosed as imminently fatal without medical intervention. Five children, including Lu Yong, now face similar situations. A typical surgery — which are generally too complicated to properly perform in Yunnan hospitals — costs between 60,000 and 100,000 yuan (US$9,000-15,000). For many years, the Kunming community has given generously to charities like Heart Watch through public charity events and private contributions. We hope it can again. The Have a Heart fundraiser, held last November, managed to raise more than 60,000 yuan for at-risk kids. And as far back as 2009, Detano's Yunnan-based NGO contributed stories explaining just how unaware Chinese urbanites are of inadequate rural cardiac healthcare conditions. His work continues to move forward today, one step and one child at a time. GoKunming urges the Kunming community, as well as those living abroad, to dig deep and help Dr Detrano raise as much money as possible for this vital cause. Donations can be made at the Walk for Hearts campaign via fundraising site YouCaring or by giving directly to the organization at ChinaCal. Detrano would also like people to join him for the walk. The more people involved, the more attention and media focus it can gather. People who would like to join in the walk — for one hour, one day, or one week — should leave a note in the comments section of the YouCaring page or contact ChinaCal directly. Corporate sponsorships are also available. Detrano will wear a company or organization's t-shirt when donations of more than 20,000 yuan (US$3,000) are received. In-person cash donations can also be made at Salvador's Coffee House and Slice of Heaven. If you know a company that is willing to become a sponsor or donate, please get in touch through the ChinaCal website or by sending a message with the subject heading "Detrano" to the GoKunming contact form.[...]
Wed, 28 Sep 2016 14:05:00 +0800The Kunming municipal government has experimented with green initiatives in the past. Such efforts have included huge re-greening campaigns and no-car days, the latter of which have sadly been discontinued. The newest endeavor, announced recently in all major metropolitan newspapers, involves putting some 45,000 public use bicycles on Spring City roads.
Mon, 26 Sep 2016 11:25:00 +0800China has so far avoided the massive losses of bees seen in the West, but the country's diverse range of native bees face their own set of growing threats. The authors of a new study, entitled Is China's unparalleled and understudied bee diversity at risk?, argue that these threats could have disastrous consequences for global food security and biodiversity. The alarming decline of bee populations in the United States and Europe has rightfully been drawing attention in recent years, as much of the food we eat would be impossible to produce without the hard work of bees and other insect pollinators. This is also true in Asia, where food production is almost wholly dependent on insect pollination, and where, as a result, any major decline in bee populations could severely disrupt the global food supply. The authors of the news article argue that urgent action is needed to ward off the risk of bee losses occurring in China, a country that is home to an amazing variety of bee diversity facing a unique set of threats. China's bees: Understudied and unappreciated? The new paper highlights the situation of pollinators in China — and how little research has been carried out in this area. Unlike in the West, the majority of Chinese bees are rarely transported across long distances in order to pollinate specific crops. Instead, the majority of hives are usually kept in the same place year-round. And where commercial farms in Europe and the United States largely rely on a single species — the western honeybee –- Chinese crops are often pollinated by a wide range of endemic species, which evidence suggests may be more resistant to pests and diseases. In fact, the diversity of Chinese bee species is unparalleled. The Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, for example, contains more bumblebee species than anywhere else in the world. Perhaps as a result of their great diversity, Chinese bees seem to have been spared the massive losses seen in the West. However, the study's lead author, Jonathan Teichroew of the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), points out that "research on threats to pollinators in China is extremely sparse, and the few studies that do exist point to alarming declines in wild bee populations in some areas of China. In some cases, bees have entirely disappeared: farmers in one county in Sichuan are now forced to pollinate their fruit crops by hand because natural pollinators have been wiped out." Wild bees under threat Why are China's wild pollinators under so much pressure? The answer, the study's authors say, lie in the massive changes undergone by China over the past few decades. Much of China's land has been transformed by massive infrastructure projects, open-pit mining, deforestation, and the spread of intensive agriculture. The scale of these land-use changes have drastically reduced the areas in which wild bee species can thrive. At the same time, the overuse of chemical pesticides has become commonplace among China's farmers: pesticide use in China is now at an all-time high, with application rates many times greater than those of most developed countries. As a result, farmers who depend on pollinators may unwittingly be poisoning their insect allies. Threats to China's bees should not only concern Chinese farmers. Not only would global food security be affected by further declines in Chinese bee populations, but China's extraordinary reservoir of bee biodiversity could be critical to fighting global pollinator diseases and pests in the future. The study's authors have therefore called for urgent action, and have suggested several ways in which China's bees could be protected. Four ways to conserve China's bees First, given the existing paucity of scientific studies on Chinese bees and the threats they face, far more China-specific research is needed. Second, China's huge government projects provide an opportunity to provide bee habitat at a large scale. China's policy of paying farmers and rural communities to plant and nurture trees has alrea[...]
Fri, 23 Sep 2016 12:40:00 +0800Fuxian (抚仙湖) is reputedly the cleanest lake in China, and also the deepest, containing an estimated ten percent of all the lake water in China. With the squalid Dianchi Lake (滇池) only 25 kilometers away, Fuxian is routinely showcased as a shining standard for environmental conservation in Yunnan. This elevated status is part of the reason three tourists are currently being eviscerated on Chinese social media.
Thu, 22 Sep 2016 17:35:00 +0800Late last year we felt something creeping up on us around the office, but no one could figure out what it was. Then, over a random lunch hour, someone asked when the website originally went online. The factual answer was 2005, when the domain GoKunming.com was originally registered and a very basic HTML listings site was born. But a fully functioning platform with a blog and updated functionality would have to wait until 2006 to get off the ground. It started with a completely ingenious post, and now, ten years on, here we all are. A decade online for any website, any business really, is reason for celebration. But the celebration is certainly not for the current motley GoKunming crew alone. When Chris Horton and Matthew Sills started building the website a decade ago, there were two primary concerns: offering up-to-date information about Kunming and Yunnan, and providing a place where people interested in the province could exchange ideas while hopefully growing tighter as a community. As we've looked back on the first ten years of the website's existence — with those two goals in mind — we were reminded for the millionth time that the longevity, utility and entertainment value of the site stem directly from the users themselves. It's a humbling thought. So thank you Kunming, and thank you to everyone who has ever posted in the forums, written an article, left a comment, sent a private message, emailed us with ideas or submitted a classified ad that led inextricably to marriage. Yep, that last one really happened. As we celebrate our tenth anniversary, we want to say "thank you" in a more tangible way. So on the evening of Friday, September 30 at the Dongfeng Dong Lu O'Reilly's Irish Pub, we'll look to do just that. With amazing assistance from the pub, we've lined up a night of food, music, drinks and giveaways. Party details The evening will begin with a 16-dish buffet featuring both Asian and Western dishes. The chefs at O'Reilly's are cooking up Beijing duck, chicken curry, fresh salads, barbecue pork ribs, two savory soups, spaghetti bolognese and ten other delectable offerings. The all-you-can-eat buffet will begin at 6:30 and run until the food is gone. It costs a mere 60 yuan per person. As a thank you to our users, outside on the O'Reilly's patio GoKunming employees will be giving away free pints of Vedette Blonde until the kegs run dry. Meanwhile, inside the bar, drinks will be priced the same as they were way back in 2006 when the website first went online. Beer Laos for ten yuan and standard mixed drinks for 15. There will also be fantabulous live music on the pub porch. First, Spasibo will take the stage playing their singular brand of Sino-Russian gypsy punk. They will be followed by the smooth and sultry sounds of Sandro on guitar and dulcet-voiced American Allison, together creating music like spicy peppered olive oil flowing gently over fettuccine. DJ Xiao Kris will keep the evening grooving, mixing up the finest in funk, hip hop and loungey grooves, with just a sprinkling of reggae thrown in for good measure. We'll toss in a short speech about the past, present and future of GoKunming before unveiling some updates to the website that we are quite excited about. As a final detail, we'll explain the rules for a contest that everyone can participate in, and hand out some sweet prizes a bit later in the evening. We hope to see you all there on Friday, September 30 at O'Reilly's. Thank you again Kunming. It's been ten years of madness, and we couldn't have done it without you![...]
Tue, 20 Sep 2016 18:40:00 +0800Southwest China's oldest and most comprehensive English-language website is partnering with one of Yunnan's most famous tourist attractions to commence a fully interactive online photography contest. GoKunming is proud to announce the start of the Stone Forest International Photography Competition 2016. At a press conference held September 19 in the Yunnan meeting room of the Sofitel Kunming, Wang Yongqiao (王永乔), vice president of the Stone Forest Scenic Area Administration, explained to reporters, VIPs and photographers, the thinking behind launching such an endeavor: [quote]The Stone Forest has been visited by millions of tourists because of its distinctively beautiful Karst rock formations and alluring Yi minority culture. In celebration of these two uniquely Yunnanese features, the Stone Forest International Photography Competition 2016 invites anyone, anywhere in the world with beautiful digital images of this destination to participate.[/quote] Contest introduction People interested in submitting photos to the contest can visit the official contest website here on GoKunming, and after a quick sign-up process — or by logging in to an existing account — upload up to ten of their best photos taken at the Stone Forest. The contest is designed to be fully interactive. Photographers can upload their photos and then anyone in the world can vote for their favorites. Then, both voters and entrants can share their actions on social media, thus encouraging more people to participate. "Our goal is to show the world what Yunnan and the Stone Forest are all about through the art of photography," said GoKunming CEO Yereth Jansen. "Hopefully, the contest will raise not only international awareness of the amazing people and places of Yunnan, but also allow local and foreign photographers to showcase their talent," he said. Jury The press conference announcing the Stone Forest International Photography Competition 2016 began with Yi minority performers staging a traditional dance. Following them was a short contest introduction by host Tindy Chen, with Jansen introducing the jury members. The panel of judges is comprised of professional photographers Ben Bohane, a photojournalist specializing in conflict zones and founder of Waka Photo Agency; Oliver Huang, director of the international marketing division of the Yunnan Tourism Development Committee; Jansen, photographer and CEO at CloudBridge Consulting International and GoKunming; Liu Zhimin, Chairman of the Yunnan Provincial Tourism Association Travel Photography Society; and Frits Meyst, a nature photographer and winner of the 'Zilveren Camera' Silver Camera Award. Prizes Anyone will be able to vote online to choose weekly winners, as well as best photos in the categories 'Nature', 'Culture', and 'People'. At competition's end, the jury of professional photographers will select the overall best picture, which will be announced at a photography exhibition featuring all of the contest winners in late November. The showcase will be staged in Sofitel Kunming and, and winning photos will be featured on GoKunming as well by national and international media partners. The victors in each category will not only have their photographs displayed at the exhibition, but will also receive awards. The contest's top jury prize is a DJI Inspire 1 V2.0 drone and camera package valued at US$1,999. Meanwhile, each category winner will be awarded a prize package consisting of an all-inclusive weekend stay for two at Sofitel Kunming, two VIP tickets to Yang Liping's dance drama Dynamic Yunnan, and two free passes for their next visit to the Stone Forest. All prize winners will also receive a gift package of mu'er (木耳), organically grown in the Stone Forest by Sunrise Manor (旭润庄园) and a box of natural energy bars provided by Dali Bars (达力巴). Contest logistics were expertly provided for by Wonders of Yunnan. The Stone Fore[...]
Tue, 20 Sep 2016 13:45:00 +0800Relentless rains sweeping across central Yunnan over the past week have triggered multiple landslides in Yunnan's Chuxiong Prefecture (楚雄彝族自治州). The largest of these buried passenger railway lines, engulfed homes and forced thousands of people to flee to higher ground. One person has reportedly gone missing, while several others suffered injuries.
Thu, 15 Sep 2016 06:00:00 +0800Nearly every culture in the world has a traditional celebration falling on or near the spring and fall solstices. China is no different, and this year will officially observe its annual harvest season holiday — known as Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋节) — on Thursday, September 15. The holiday culminates with festivities held under a full moon, which this year falls exactly one week before the Autumnal Equinox. Traditionally, Mid-Autumn Festival was held on the fifteenth day of the eighth month of China's lunar calendar. That changed slightly in 2008, when the Chinese government first recognized the celebration as a national holiday. The festival is no longer a one-day affair, and this year runs from the fifteenth to the seventeenth of September, with an obligatory work and school make-up day for many, annoyingly scheduled on Sunday the eighteenth. A bit of history There is no hard and fast evidence of when people in China began celebrating Mid-Autumn Festival. Some scholars believe the tradition dates back to the Shang Dynasty three millennia ago. The term 'mid-autumn' made its first appearance in the Chinese literary canon during the Western Zhou Dynasty, finding its way into a compendium of then-current court rituals. Regardless of its provenance, the festival is associated with the end of summer, the beginning of fall, and the final harvest of the year. Because ancient China's calendar was a lunar one, many of the customs surrounding Mid-Autumn Festival revolve around the moon. In Daoism, the Goddess of the Moon is named Chang'e (嫦娥), an immortal who lives on the moon accompanied by her companion, the potion-brewing Jade Rabbit (玉兔). Traditionally during Mid-Autumn Festival, people would make offerings of food and drink to Chang'e, often from outdoor alters open to the night sky. The full moon plays a major part in all aspects of the holiday. The moon's roundness represents the cyclical nature of life and the agricultural growing seasons, as well as the concepts of family unity, togetherness and inclusion. Unlike many other Chinese holidays, where people go to great lengths to venerate and even placate the dead, Mid-Autumn Festival is primarily concerned with the living. Today, just as hundreds of years ago, as Mid-Autumn Festival approached, separated family members would, if at all possible, make their way home to be with their relatives. There, they would enjoy communal meals and spend time together gazing at the moon. Those who could not return to their ancestral villages sought solace in the fact that if they looked to the moon, they would at least knew their distant loved ones were doing the same. Down through the generations, because so many people invariably did not have chances to visit their relatives, Mid-Autumn Festival became tinged with feelings of longing and nostalgia. This is perhaps best epitomized by the verse A Sentimental Night (静夜思), written 1,300 years ago by one of China's greatest poets, and noted drinker, Li Bai (李白): 床前明月光, 疑是地上霜 举头望明月, 低头思故乡 Translating ancient Chinese poetry into another language is a difficult endeavor even for scholars. Cadence, rhyme, implied movement and emotion can all easily become lost. We will spare you our efforts. However, the general outline of A Sentimental Night is that of a man, far from his family, who looks down at the moonlight shining on the foot of his bed and imagines it to be frost. He then looks up at the moon before resting his head in his hands and thinking of home. Modern day traditions In many senses, Mid-Autumn Festival is much less formal than other holidays. Observance does not necessitate a ritual trip to a temple or a graveyard. Families gather, as on all Chinese festival days, and eat. In fact, the most important act a family can perform during Mid-Autumn Festival may be eat[...]
Wed, 14 Sep 2016 12:15:00 +0800Colin Flahive, co-owner of Salvador's Coffee House and natural food company Dali Bars recently took a business trip to Dehong Prefecture (德宏州). One of the least-visited parts of Yunnan due to a general lack of infrastructure, the area — like many once-inaccessible parts of Yunnan — is undergoing a bit of a construction boom. Flahive's trip centered around a factory producing Dali Bars, but ended up doubling as a comfy tour of the surrounding hills and valleys. Husa Achang Township (户撒阿昌族乡) is a few hours' drive north of the province's former wild west outpost, Ruili (瑞丽). The lush green valley is home to the largest Achang minority population in Yunnan. Only about 29,000 Achang live in all of China, making them one of the least populous of the country's 56 official minority groups. The Achang are of Burmese decent and thought to be some of the earliest permanent settlers in western Yunnan. They are predominantly Theravada Buddhists — the most prevalent form of the religion in much of Myanmar, Laos, Thailand and Sri Lanka — and their language, grouped within the Tibeto-Burman family, lacks a written form. The area around Husa is mountainous, poor and almost entirely agrarian. However, the locals have made a name for themselves as growers of quality cardamom, and also as experts at making handmade rice noodles. Finely-crafted Achang knives — called husadao (户撒刀) — are also quite well-known to collectors across China. Lisu, Dai and Jingpo villages dot the valley too, but everything seems to be under construction as the new road has brought new wealth and opportunity to this sleepy hamlet. White brick and gold stupas predominate across the Husa region, much like they do just across the border in Myanmar. We visited a factory while there, and owner took me for a short day trip to nearby Huangge Temple (皇阁寺). He kept calling the six-hundred year-old structure the "F-U" Temple, which I found very confusing until I met the dour guardian deities at the entrance. "Taking drugs is suicide, selling drugs is murder" is painted on walls along village walkways, a reminder of the lingering cross-border drug problems in the area. I initially went to Husa to oversee the factory's new production line in addition to testing two new Dali Bar flavors. I was surprised to see that ongoing unrest across the border has created a flood of Burmese refugees pouring into Yunnan seeking better lives. I had assumed that the factory owner chose Husa for financial reasons, but after spending a few days there it was clear that it was more a quality of life choice. Clean air, clean water, fertile soil and vibrant local culture turned out to be reason enough. Images: Colin Flahive[...]
Mon, 12 Sep 2016 18:00:00 +0800The major Kunming thoroughfare of Xuefu Lu (学府路) is a bit disordered these days. Shops have been shuttered or torn down entirely, bus stops have moved or are missing, and work crews are busy digging ditches and ripping out trees. So, as GoKunming user Ocean asked late last week, what exactly is going on?