Last Build Date: Tue, 25 Oct 2016 06:28:18 +0800
Mon, 24 Oct 2016 15:00:00 +0800Paleontologists working near the city of Qujing (曲靖) recently uncovered what they believe to be a major piece of the evolutionary puzzle concerning the earliest development of jaws. A report first published in the journal Science outlines the analysis of Qilinyu rostrata, a fish living in the primordial seas more than 400 million years ago.
Fri, 21 Oct 2016 16:10:00 +0800The enormous spaceship-shaped Kunming Dianchi International Convention Center (昆明滇池国际会展中心) is typically a venue for staid and serious-minded events such as trade fairs and high-minded government functions. Not so last weekend.
Thu, 20 Oct 2016 16:10:00 +0800Taboo to some, an insignificant afterthought to others grieving over the recent death of a loved one, organ transplants have never been common in Yunnan. However, the apprehension and stigma surrounding the practice appears to be dissipating to some extent, with donations in Yunnan, and commensurate surgeries, on the rise.
Wed, 19 Oct 2016 18:35:00 +0800Over the past decade, recreational and outdoor sports have become immensely popular in China, especially those of an endurance bent. The upsurge in interest has propelled once obscure sports into the national conscious, while also spawning all manner of new competitions. One such contest, the ninth annual Red Bull 24-Hour Cross Challenge is about to get underway in Yunnan, and organizers are looking for fit and interested athletes to join. First held in 2006, the Cross Challenge is a multidisciplinary sporting event held on one of the province's more beautiful peaks, Jiaozi Snow Mountain (轿子雪山). The massif is a rocky, craggy spire rising to a point 4,247 meters above sea level in central Yunnan's Luquan County (禄劝县). Much of the mountain is a protected scenic area, and it is there that the Cross Challenge will be held. Red Bull 24-Hour Cross Challenge details The race is 100 kilometers long in total. Teams of three — one woman and two men — are required to complete the course in under 24 hours, with one mandatory seven-hour break, while otherwise budgeting time for meals and the completion of different athletic heats on their own. The total purse for the 2016 Cross Challenge is 100,000 yuan. Each team must find and pass through more than a dozen checkpoints along the course. At each stop, teams must check in and follow health protocols while replenishing water and other vital supplies. During the race, all participants will complete a cycling section, which includes both tarmac and off-road portions. Cross country trail running, orienteering, kayaking and inline skating — or more running/walking if participants cannot skate — portions are also included. Over some sections of the race, competitors must also navigate rope bridges and abseiling — or rappelling — elements. In an added twist to this year's event, teams must also complete a mysterious puzzle while in the midst of the competition. The winning team will receive 30,000 yuan, while the second and third place finishers will earn 22,000 and 18,000 respectively. All teams finishing in the top 12 will get cash prizes. Race organizers will provide the necessary equipment for the individual heats. The course is on a mountain beginning at around 2,000 meters above sea level and topping out at 4,200. Therefore, all entrants must provide their passports and an electrocardiogram no more than three months old when applying. Weather conditions may be unpredictable, so interested parties are also expected to have a high fitness level and bring clothing for all meteorological conditions. Official schedule Details and November 4 registration deadline Participation in the Red Bull 24-Hour Cross Challenge is free and open to teams registering before the final deadline on November 4. Because of the international nature of the competition, registration is currently open for entirely foreign teams only. Up to 35 teams are allowed to participate and, as of this writing, several groups from China have already enrolled. All transportation, room and board are provided without charge by competition organizers. Teams are expected to bring their own one-liter water bottles, flashlights, compasses, sleeping bags, moisture-proof pads, and two 60-80 liter bags per team are recommended as well. However, each team is required to pay a 1,000 yuan refundable deposit fee. If you think you have what it takes and would like to register a team, and would like to receive updates on similar future events, fill out the Registration Form at the bottom of this article. You can also call race registrar Quentin — who is bilingual — at 15308808367. Orientation day: November 11 • Check-in and orientation from 9am-4pm at the Kunming Mountaineering Expedition Association, including equipment allocation • Travel by bus to Jiaozi Snow Mountain from 7-9:30pm. Buses depart from Kunming Mountaineering Expedition Association Race days: November 12-13 • Check-in, orientation and rac[...]
Tue, 18 Oct 2016 18:45:00 +0800China is in the midst of an outdoor sports boom. The amount of people exercising, and specifically running, is growing exponentially. A country that 20 years ago had only a handful of distance running competitions now hosts at least 100 annually. Jumping into this ever-increasing tumult of marathons and ultra races is the 2016 China-ASEAN Mountain Marathon, which will be held November 6 in Guangxi province.
Sat, 15 Oct 2016 11:20:00 +0800A group of Australian and American pilots and engineers are in the process of recreating one of the great Allied World War II aviation triumphs. Seventy-one years after the close of hostilities, they are flying an original but lovingly refurbished 1944 Douglas C-47 Skytrain aircraft back over 'The Hump' — an iconic air supply route used during the war to send desperately needed men and materiel into southwestern China. While not recreating the exact path taken by pilots flying in the war, the team of Dale Mueller (pilot, USA), Alan Searle (pilot, AUS), Larry Jobe (pilot, USA), Tom Claytor (pilot, USA) and Barry Arlow (engineer, AUS) are flying a plane christened 'Buzz Buggy' "to honor those men who served to bring victory and peace, and to the friendships between nations today that are charged with keeping [that] peace". Their flight began in August from Bathurst Airport in New South Wales. The planned schedule included stops at Australian airfields Longreach and Darwin before heading to Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar and finally China. However, while flying from Bali to Jahor, Malaysia, catastrophe nearly ended the endeavor entirely. In the words of the crew: [quote]One hour and 30 minutes into the flight, smoke appeared coming from the left engine. After 15 seconds, the engine started to vibrate severely, then fire appeared. We shut down the engine and diverted to Surabaya, 25 minutes away. Indonesian air traffic control was very helpful and we landed safely.[/quote] Finding replacement parts — of an engine no less — for a seven-decade old plane was no small feat. Nor is navigating the storm of red tape involved in securing permission to take off and land in half-a-dozen countries with sometimes tenuous political ties. Nonetheless, new parts secured and installed, Buzz Buggy's crew have once again taken to the skies and are approaching Kunming, expecting to land at Changshui International Airport on the afternoon of October 15. A stop in the Spring City is a necessity, as Yunnan's capital received a huge share of the 650,000 tons of materiel flown over The Hump during the war. Those airlifts involved the United States Army Air Forces, the joint British-Indian Army, Commonwealth Forces, and the nascent China National Aviation Corporation (CNAC), all of which were augmented by Burmese and Chinese military and civilian workers. Losses during the airlift — which was carried out in one form or another and with varying participation from Allied forces between April 1942 and August 1945 — were immense. More than 1,659 Allied forces were killed or went missing during the mission, and 594 aircraft were shot down, damaged beyond repair or otherwise lost. Despite the crucial role The Hump airlift played in pulling China and parts of Southeast Asia away from the abyss of complete collapse, the mission remains less well-known than other major East Asian war fronts. And this fact is one of the main reasons the crew of Buzz Buggy have persevered. Now, their final destination — Guilin (桂林) — is finally in sight after weeks of delays. Once the crew reach Guilin, Buzz Buggy will take up permanent residence at the city's Flying Tiger Heritage Park and Museum where General Claire Chennault once maintained a base of operations. There, the aircraft will be repainted, with "China-Burma-India markings on one side and CNAC markings on the other," according to the flight's website. Editor's note: Rebuilding Buzz Buggy's engine was costly, and flight sponsor the Flying Tigers Organization is looking for donations to cover the US$60,000 endeavor. If you would like to donate, please visit the crowd-sourcing page at GoFundMe. Special thanks to historian Philip Van Zandt, who has kept the team at GoKunming up-to-date through every stage of the flight. Top image: Claytor.com Second image: AOPA Third image: European Center of Military History Bottom image: Ramsburyatwar[...]
Fri, 14 Oct 2016 11:35:00 +0800The southwest Chinese province of Yunnan can boast of a greater geographical variety than anywhere else in the country. Ecological zones range from the tropics of Xishuangbanna in the south, to the slopes of the towering snow-clad mountains in the northwest, and everything in between. It only lacks a true desert and a seaside. Even so, it has a few rain-shadow areas that all but qualify as desert, with hills and cliffs carved by erosion into various fascinating shapes, as well as Fuxian Lake, the northern part of which has a beach just like those in southernmost China. Other physical attractions of the province include mountains, rock formations, waterfalls, lakes, gorges, caves, geysers and hot springs that, of course, a traveler also finds in other parts of the country. The sole Yunnan phenomenon that is unique to China — and exists at this size in very few corners of the globe — is Yunnan's Baishuitai (白水台), a set of natural white stone terraces in Shangri-la County (香格里拉县). The county is known for its Tibetan villages, temples and architecture, but around Baishuitai the people are Naxi (纳西), the same minority nationality living across the Jinsha River in Lijiang (丽江). Though it's possible to walk there in two days from Daju (大具), in Lijiang County, most journeys begin from Shangri-la, where a bus makes the five or six hour journey to Sanba (三坝), the largest of the Naxi villages. The road runs southeast, passing out of the Tibetan area after an hour or so and entering an area of heavily forested hills scattered with Yi villages. Haba Snow Mountain (哈巴雪山) is barely visible from the pass over the last ridge before the descent to Sanba. Baishuitai — Chinese for 'white water platform' — is first espied after winding down the hill several kilometers. It looks like a great white blob of a rock, roughly 150 meters wide, lying on the slope of a hill a few hundred meters above the road. About one kilometer before this hill is the first of the villages, with Sanba five kilometers further on. A closer inspection of Baishuitai reveals that the rock is full of terraces, pools and a shallow but constant flow of water. The local Naxi claim that the terraces were built by their gods as replicas of the rice terraces in heaven. The Naxi thus learned to make terraced fields themselves for their own rice, wheat, corn and barley. The basic white color, as well as the terrace formations, are due to deposits left by the waters of the spring above them, which punches through the soil at a cluster of holes just below the forest line. As the water flowed over the slope for millennia, it left behind carbonate of lime, which gradually built up and created little walled basins that trapped the water. Everything on the ground is swathed in lime, even plants and the trunks of bushes and trees. Although from a distance the creamy white base color stands out — particularly against the dark green of the forests — on closer inspection it is rather the streaks and runnels and the differences of hues over various sections of the rock that catch the eye. At the top the water flows into a large pond with inkblot-shaped islands. It then it spills out over a spacious flat section while the flow on the upper right section passes through several shallow turquoise pools with gray and white walls. This latter water flows down the entire right side of the rock, where the terraces are usually a pale shade of green. On the left side of the rock they are bluer, with streaks of yellow. From the flat top one can see the whole valley — even past Sanba — to villages perched on the hills on the other side of the Jinsha River. Terraced farms surround the settlements, some of which cling to the slopes, while others lie on the tops of small hills. Looking down on the rock itself one sees lines of mauve, green, purple and ocher wiggling across t[...]
Wed, 12 Oct 2016 13:00:00 +0800The relationship between China's only herds of wild elephants and the people who inhabit the same regions is sometimes tenuous and occasionally deadly. Such was not the case this week, as dozens of police and local volunteers in Xishuangbanna banded together to free three elephants trapped in a mountainside cistern for nearly 48 hours. The pachyderm trio — comprised of two adults and an infant — was discovered stuck in a small uncovered storage pond on October 9. They had presumably waded into the water to bathe, not knowing the concrete structure was four meters deep. Once inside, vertical walls trapped the animals while at least 17 other members of their herd milled helplessly around the pond. The sheer number of elephants in the area initially hampered the rescue efforts of nearly 100 forestry police and locals. Together, the would-be rescuers decided to drop sandbags into the cistern from a helicopter in hopes of creating a ramp the trapped animals could use to escape. Efforts were rushed because the baby elephant was forced to tread water or be supported by the two adults to keep its head and trunk above water. Officials located a helicopter in Jinghong (景洪) and, once requisitioned, flew it 200 kilometers northeast to the village of Mengwang (勐旺), itself only a short distance from the stranded elephants. Unfortunately, the plan had to be scrapped after several hours, as noise from the helicopter disturbed the gathered pachyderms. Forestry police also worried a misplaced sandbag accidentally dropped on an animal could provoke a stampede. A second plan was hatched, and the platoon of rescuers brought in a backhoe. When 14 of the elephants departed to forage in the nearby forest, police set off boxes of firecrackers to scare away the remaining three onlookers. The backhoe operator then dug a chute into the hillside, while police kept curious elephants at bay with sporadic rounds of fireworks and water was drained out of the reservoir. Once the cistern wall was exposed, it was torn down. The three captive animals ambled out of their prison after nearly two days and rejoined the herd. Within minutes, according to police reports, the entire collection of animals had disappeared back into the forest. Yunnan is the only province in China still home to indigenous Asian elephants, a local point of pride and focus of some national support for the past six years. In 2009, a 54,700-hectare, cross-border nature reserve was established in Xishuangbanna and Laos in hopes that herds could move about unmolested. More recently, the government of Pu'er spent 2.6 million yuan (US$420,000) to establish an 'elephant feeding ground' to keep the wild animals away from cropland. Yunnan's elephant population hovers around 300 individuals and is thought to be growing. The rise in numbers comes despite decades of habitat loss, periodic poaching and the occasional clash with farmers. The rise is something officials in Xishuangbanna and neighboring Pu'er credit to conservation and educational efforts in rural areas frequented by elephants. Images: WXYD[...]
Mon, 10 Oct 2016 12:25:00 +0800Two years after first running afoul of President Xi Jinping's anti-corruption steamroller, the former Party secretary of Yunnan was sentenced to death over the National Day holiday. The ruling in the case of Bai Enpei (白恩培) — who served as the province's top cadre from 2001 to 2011 — was immediately suspended for two years, indicating the former politician will likely spend the rest of his life in prison. The verdict and sentence were handed down by the Anyang Intermediate People's Court in Henan. Why Bai was tried there, instead of in either the provinces of Qinghai or Yunnan where he committed his crimes, remains unclear. Suspension of the death penalty resulted, according to a court announcement, because Bai admitted his guilt and nearly all of the money and property he embezzled or otherwise misappropriated has been recovered. While avoiding death, Bai will never be eligible for parole because of national sentencing laws enacted last year. Online magazine Caixin explains officials were once allowed chances at shortened or commuted sentences based on good behavior in prison, [quote]...but in October 2015, the national legislature amended the country's penal code to allow a court to rule against the shortening of a jail term in a bribery case in which a large sum of money was involved or if the offender had caused grave damage to state or individual interests.[/quote] Bai was found guilty of accepting bribes and gifts totaling 246,764,511 yuan (US$36.85 million). This represents the largest amount of money siphoned off by any political figure implicated during China's four-year crackdown on corruption. Bai primarily benefitted from arranging sweetheart real estate and mining deals over an 13-year period beginning in 2000. The final three years of this time were spent as a member of the National People's Congress (NPC) — China's top law-making body — as deputy director of the Environment and Resources Protection Committee Bai's troubles began in 2014 when he was implicated in the trial of mining tycoon Liu Han. Liu, head of Sichuan Hanlong, was eventually sentenced to death along with his brother for murder, gun-running and controlling an organized criminal ring. Bai and China's top security czar at the time, Zhou Yongkang (周永康), were both said by prosecutors to have ties to Liu during the latter's trial. Considering his final position within the NPC, Bai's time in Yunnan will perhaps be remembered ironically. He was most widely known for his unflagging support for damming the Nu River. Educated as an engineer, Bai pushed for such projects up and down Asia's longest undammed waterway as a means of economic development. Championing hydropower over tourism and other development options, he once rather indelicately told reporters, "You cannot expect the people of the Nu River to keep wearing animal skins and bring in everyone to have a look in the name of ecotourism." Top image: Beijing Time Bottom image: Shanghai Daily[...]
Thu, 06 Oct 2016 12:25:00 +0800One of China's largest touring music festivals is preparing to descend on Yunnan the weekend after the National Day holiday. The 2016 Strawberry Music Festival (草莓音乐节) has fall dates across China, and will rumble into Kunming for two days of musical bliss on October 15 and 16. It features a jam-packed staged devoted to international electronic music sponsored by Danish-owned Tuborg Beer. Known for putting on monstrous shows in some of the country's largest cities, festival organizers at Modern Sky Laboratories and Tuborg have chosen the shores of Dianchi Lake for this year's Kunming version. An ambitious line-up of 26 bands and solo acts will grace two separate stages over the course of the two-day event. As a special addition, the festival also features the DJ and electronic music stage organized and sponsored by Tuborg. In total 13 DJs and MCs will spin hip-hop, rap, trance and everything in between. Billed as a "call for people to unrestrainedly join the electronic music tribe", the Tuborg Beer Release Electronica Stage will feature performances by the UK's Conrank, Beijing-based Coco Van Kleef, Kunming's own Maxxi and many others. This year's Strawberry Music Festival will take place at the Kunming Dianchi International Convention Center (昆明滇池国际会展中心), an enormous facility normally reserved for for trade shows and large government functions. The festival will take place outdoors at the complex's main square, an area replete with fountains, reflecting pools surrounded by multi-story decks from which to overlook all the goings on. In addition to live music ranging from grunge to punk to folk to psytrance, the festival will feature several user friendly tents as well. Among these are a tribal face painting and group photography area, a spray painting and graffiti wall, an audience-wide beer shotgunning contest sponsored by Tuborg, and various food and beverage stalls. Strawberry Music Festival scheduled line-up October 15 Strawberry Stage (草莓舞台) 13:30-14:00 Magic Pony (魔术小马驹) 14:30-15:00 Mayuan Poets (麻园诗人) 15:40-16:20 Glow Curve (发光曲线) 17:00-17:45 Askar Grey Wolf (艾斯卡尔·灰狼) 18:30-19:15 Longshendao (龙神道) 20:00-20:50 Julian Chen (陈志朋) 21:30-22:30 New Pants (新裤子) Dance Stage (爱舞台) 14:00-14:30 For Fun(宿舍之星) 15:00-15:40 Cui Yuewen (崔跃文) 16:20-17:00 Rolling Bowling (旋转保龄) 17:45-18:30 Low Wormwood (低苦艾) 19:15-20:00 Mr Chelonian (海龟先生) 20:50-21:30 Xie Tianxiao (谢天笑) Tuborg Electronic Stage (乐堡啤酒·RELEASE电子舞台) 15:00-16:00 Louie Louie 16:00-17:00 Rhymi 17:00-18:00 Maxxi 18:00-19:00 Conrank (UK) 19:00-20:00 Gretta (RU) 20:00-21:00 Jason Dalee October 16 Strawberry Stage (草莓舞台) 13:30-14:00 Blue Guy (跳大海) 14:30-15:00 Big Lottery (大乐透) 15:30-16:00 Zhou Fengling (周凤岭) 16:30-17:10 Da Bang 17:50-18:30 Yaksa (夜叉) 19:30-20:30 Madi (马頔) 21:30-22:30 Miserable Faith (痛仰) Dance Stage (爱舞台) 14:00-14:30 Mr Hai (海先生) (宿舍之星) 15:00-15:30 The Fallacy (疯医) 16:00-16:30 Casino Demon (赌鬼) 17:10-17:50 Hang Tian (杭天) 18:30-19:30 Peng Tan (彭坦) 20:30-21:30 Su Yunying (苏运莹) Tuborg Electronic Stage (乐堡啤酒·RELEASE电子舞台) 14:00-15:00 Stoner 15:00-16:00 Tuland 16:00-17:00 Bass Guo 17:00-18:00 Coco Van Kleef 18:00-19:00 Shen Yue 19:00-20:00 Greg Katona (HU) 20:00-21:00 Giftback Ticketing and travel details Advance single day tickets to the 2016 Strawberry Music Festival cost 120 yuan for those with a student identification card and 150 for everyone else. Two-day passes run 260 yuan. Both types of tickets can be purchased online at Damai. The festival will be held from 1-10:30pm both days. The Kunming Dianchi International Convention Center sits[...]