The end of it all

Hi friends,
sorry I’ve been MIA for a week or so. My readership dropped drastically in the last week as I’m now back home in Vancouver and my family and friends stopped reading this blog.
Nonetheless, I figure I should write a little conclusion post to end this blog. First of all, I didn’t want to be one of those people who leave their blog un-updated for no published reason (its frustrating if you follow a blog, and the author just stops posting for no reason). And secondly, I wanted to reflect a little on my experiences as a whole, now that I’m home and all.

Well, first of all, I’ve been home for a week now and all I’ve done is spend time with my family and friends, enjoying the remainder of Vancouver’s gorgeous summer time! With no specific structure in my life, my sleeping schedule is completely thrown off.
Now that I’m back home in the city, I appreciate things about home that I never used to think about before. I missed carpeted floors terribly in Asia. It is so hot there that no homes would have carpet, and I really missed the feeling of my bare feet on carpet. Strange, isn’t it?
At the same time, part of me thinks about the slow provincial life that I had in the garden. Back there, I would wake up, take a 5 minute shuttle to the office, walk to the cafeteria for lunch, and then a 5 minute shuttle to the dorms at the end of the day. The walk into town was 15 minutes across a suspension bridge, and there are two supermarkets to buy everything I needed. It was simple, but the lack of options made things very easy and uncomplicated.
I know I have some tough times during my trip, and the hardest part was being alone all the time. But at the end of the day, I could honestly say that it was a positive experience for me, and even the tough times were necessary for me to learn about myself and grow as a person.

Now, what to do with this blog…. I will definitely leave it up for however long I can. I think it would be nice for me to go back and read my blogposts later. My blog was my way of showing my family and friends what a different world rural China (Yunnan province) was like. However, a secondary purpose that I never wrote about on here was to show other people interested in the area regarding life in this part of the world. When I found out I was going to Xishuangbanna, I could hardly find any information online about the daily life in this area. Not a lot of information is put online about this area of China and I spent hours on google to try and find out more information. Thus, I hope the next person looking to visit this area could come across this and be a little more informed about it!

Anyways, I’d like to leave this blog post with one of my favourite pictures that didn’t make it onto the blog! Here is a picture of me right after finishing the 28 Bends while hiking Tiger Leaping Gorge! The views are fantastic and looking at that picture, I feel so alive after accomplishing such an amazing feat!


Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

A Summer of Flights

Hi friends,
Sorry for the lack of posts this week! I was taking a much needed vacation from the digital world during this week in Taiwan. It helps when both your supervisors are attending one of the biggest botanical conferences in Australia at the same time, so no work emails from them!
This past week in Taiwan was spent seeing family and friends that I haven’t seen since my last visit to Taiwan 11 years ago! Taipei was also ridiculously hot, so most of our time was spent indoors where a/c was always on!
Right now, I’m sitting at Taipei Taoyuan international airport, waiting for m flight. I only have two more flights before I land in beautiful Vancouver!
This summer, I definitely took my share of flights! It doesn’t help that Jinghong is such a small place that it took us 4 flights just to get there from Vancouver. Also, if you count the little side trips I took this summer, I have taken something like 20 flights this summer!
Look at my stash of boarding passes!

Over this summer, I’ve even developed a small fear of flying. I have always taken relatively big intercontinental flights, but taking small airplanes in China that last for 50 minutes can be very turbulenty! Before every flight, I still have to read “how to overcome fear of turbulence” online before I can board! Its silly but I can’t help it! Especially in tiny Chinese airplanes!
Anyways, two more flights before I am finally home! Can’t wait to see my family, friends and sleep in my own bed…

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Last Days in Kunming

Hi friends,
Sorry for the lack of posts. I’ve been pretty busy finishing sorting my samples and packing and doing last minute souvenir shopping! I have just one more full day left in Kunming tomorrow before I depart for Taiwan! Part of me is excited to leave, but part of me have been in this part of China for so long that I don’t know if I will be able to adjust back to my previous life!
Anyways, I am sure I will write a longer reflective post about my experience later! I am meeting some of my lab mates tonight for one last bbq in China! (I don’t know if you can tell, but I LOVE bbq in China! They are not very healthy but are oh-so-delicious!)
Anyways, I paid a visit to Green Lake Park a few days ago in my spare time in Kunming and took some photos! I wanted to show a little comparison photo! The photo on the left was taken on May 1, 2011 when I first visited Kunming! And the photo on the right was taken this past Monday July 18th, 2011. Look at the difference! I’m a little darker (from my sunburnt in Dali) and a whole lot happier and self confident (after completing the hike up Tiger Leaping Gorge!)

I also found it very funny that I happened to wear exactly the same colour combination! It was completely unplanned, I promise!

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Battle Scar

Hi friends,
I can’t believe that only one week ago I was hiking Tiger Leaping Gorge and having one of the most memorable experiences of my life!
Well, that accomplishment was not achieved without any battle scars!
It was toward the end of our hike and we were walking down a meadow part except the dirt was very very compact, which made it very slippery!
I had a small fall, and I don’t think quite understand what happened. I know I fell toward my left and landed on the outside of my knee, yet I have this gigantic bruise on the inside of my knee.
Look! I took this just now – so this bruise is nearly a week old!

It hurts and looks bad, but it’s a testament to finishing an amazing hike!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Karaoke in China

Hi friends,
my friend Daisy just left China and I’m all by myself again! The good news is that in exactly a week, I will be flying out of China and into Taiwan to spend some quality time with family members!
To celebrate the end of our epic Yunnan trip, we decided to go sing karaoke! We sang for 5 hours STRAIGHT!!
It was so much fun and they had a great selection!
I even found Josh Groban’s new song “Hidden Away” there and I sang to my heart’s content!
Look here’s proof:

Yay Josh Groban!
That is all.


Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Ganden Sumtseling Gompa 松贊林寺

Hi friends,
Today we visited one of the most important Tibetan monasteries in southwest China!
Its called Songtsam Monastery and it’s a 300 year –old Tibetan monastery complex with about 600 monks. It was built around 1679 by the fifth Dalai Lama, and the monks still live in the houses within the complex!
Its great because we happened to stay in a hotel right behind the monastery, which meant we had fantastic views of the complex, as well as free admission to see the monastery.
Here it is:

Here is Daisy giving the Tibetan prayer wheels a spin:

Some of the young monks hanging out! The monks were all very friendly, even with all the tourists swarming their religious temple!

And here are all the incense that people have left behind after saying their prayers!

Here is the entry for one of the bigger temples:

and then we did some REALLY touristy things, and rented Tibetan costumes!
Here is Daisy looking lovely in front of the monastery!

and here am I – looking slightly more ridiculous!

haha and one more of the two of us! We felt pretty ridiculous but when would we ever be able to wear traditional Tibetan costumes again?

Anyways, I’m writing this post as we are waiting at the Shangri-la airport, and will post this when we get to Kunming!
We have a few days in Kunming together before Daisy leaves for Canada! Shangri-la was certainly very memorable, but the city is still developing and it shows. It was nice that we got to appreciate and learn about Tibetan culture without actually going into Tibet!
We certainly have experienced a lot of minority cultures in these three cities we visited! They say that Yunnan province has 50% of China’s minority groups! We learned about the Bai minority in Dali, met lovely Naxi people in Lijiang, and appreciated Tibetan minority in Shangri-la!
What a well-rounded experience!

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

A random day in Shangri-la

Hi friends,
We had a very random day exploring Shangri-la today! The experiences certainly were interesting and different!
So a bit about Shangri-la. It was originally named Zhongdian, but was renamed Shangri-la by the Chinese tourism people as they rapidly try to expand this place for tourists! It has a very large Tibetan community and given that foreigners cannot enter actual Tibet for the month of June and July, this was the closest we got to Tibetan culture!
Anyways, we first went to ride a yak boat! It is literally a boat covered in yak skin and fur that has been blessed by the local monastery!
It looks pretty ridiculous!

Here are Daisy and I on this boat! We floated down a local river (which the Tibetans still use for water burials) while two boatmen punted us! It was actually very peaceful!

And look, our boatman even sang a local song for us! It was certainly very organic, having someone serenade you down the river! And the melody is very nice:

And we came across lots of Tibetan prayer flags all over!

During lunch, we even tried Yak Butter Tea! Or 酥油茶in Chinese. Yak Butter tea is made using (unsurprisingly) yak butter, tea and salt! Tibetans drink cups of these every day – its good for cold winter days and high altitude areas!

and yeah – I did not like the drink. The first few sips were alright – but the aftertaste is odd and its just strange drink to me!
Anyways, after stopping at our hotel for some needed downtime, we attended a Tibetan family music and dance show!
Here are Daisy and I!

and some of the singing! We loved their costumes and enthusiasm!

and some of the dancing!

It was nice to get a taste of Tibetan culture, even though our plans were sporadic and random! Tomorrow, we have a lot more structure and are planning to visit one of the largest Tibetan monasteries outside Tibet!
For now, its bed time!

Posted in shangri-la, tibetan, travel, yak butter tea, Yunnan | 1 Comment