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justso
Bakerton, WV
I am the Marketing Manager for ICT Organics, and an Advisory Board member for Modern Farmer magazine.
Interests: travel, agriculture, global warming, photography, books, poetry, climate change, seeds, organic gardening, vegetables
Recent Activity
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It's been a long and interesting time here in the ancient kingdom...and I had a hard time keeping up with this blog, both because of how busy my hosts kept me in the early parts, and connectivity and computer problems at the end, BUT: I wouldn't have passed it up for the world. I am just getting ready to crash for the night at the airport hotel in Chengdu. I fly out at 9 am tomorrow and will get back to DC at 7 pm "tomorrow." I will be glad to be back even though I have had a great... Continue reading
Posted Sep 22, 2015 at China Blog
Here is a gallery of photos taken at the Kunming fresh food market the morning of September 18th. There are plenty of green grocers and butchers around town (I have discovered) but this is the home of the most basic vendors, and there were a lot more crops (and mushrooms) there than I had seen previously. My favorite mushroom (to hear about, not to eat!) is one treasured by the Yunnanese, called "See You Tomorrow." You'll find it in a number of dishes and in tomorrow's "evacuation" as, despite its culinary delicacy, it is indigestible, and passes right through the... Continue reading
Posted Sep 18, 2015 at China Blog
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Just got off on my own yesterday, and I am staying at a funky hostel right downtown by Green Lake. This is the place I have been yearning for...fantastic location and surroundings, diverse mix of people from all over the world...lots of places to walk and things to see. My first cheeseburger in three weeks...and it was a good one! And I got a great book at a funky little bookstore that I am enjoying muchly (next to the burger). And coffee! Yes, coffee! BUT... On the way here my laptop's display went crazy and it was totally unreadable. I... Continue reading
Posted Sep 17, 2015 at China Blog
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I had heard when I was in Sichuan that Yunnan produces some of the best tobacco in Asia, and I decided then that I would bring back some cigarettes for my SheTown friends that enjoy that mildly intoxicating smoke. Yesterday, I got to see first hand their tobacco production. It took me a few minutes (passing the fields in the car) to realize that I had reached the actual production area -- it is in the highlands, around 6600 ft, where temperatures annually range from the mid 20s to the mid 80s -- because these plants don't look like the... Continue reading
Posted Sep 16, 2015 at China Blog
Saturday morning my translator Sherry and I visited the Wenshu Monastery and then wandered the streets surrounding, buying gifts and talking. We happened upon this street market, which had an incredible array of mushrooms as well as other items. Check it out. Photo gallery of Chengdu street market, September 12, 2015. Continue reading
Posted Sep 16, 2015 at China Blog
Was having breakfast this morning at the Sheng Bang Hotel in Lu Liang (very nice place) when I noticed out the window that there was a street market just across the main thoroughfare. We were scheduled to leave for a trip up to a small town in the mountains (6600 ft) where the Forestry Academy is consulting with the county foresters on new crops for economic development. So I slurped down the rest of my rice noodle soup and ran across the street. I shot all these pictures (according to the digital time stamps) in nine minutes. As with the... Continue reading
Posted Sep 16, 2015 at China Blog
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Sudden change of plans this morning. I was up late last night and early this morning prepping for a 9 am presentation to the Academy and was closing down on it at 7:30 when I went over to the main building for breakfast. As I was leaving the breakfast room, the desk man (who speaks no English) flagged me down with the telephone and it was my host, Mr. Ma, the editor of the Southwest China Forestry Journal. He informed me that the president of the Academy wanted him to take me to visit one of their rural stations about... Continue reading
Posted Sep 15, 2015 at China Blog
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The extent to which China (or at least Sichuan and Yunnan) are committed to recycling and energy efficiency is impressive. Unlike India, or Thailand, or Vietnam -- all of which have similar transport systems, the Chinese seem to have embraced a quieter, more electrified future. It is quieter than Costa Rica, even quieter than Bakerton (out my hotel window right now, despite the occasional pedestrian or car, it is quiet enough to hear the monks chanting in the shrine across the way. Yes, a lot of this electricity comes from coal, which they have. This was used to cook our... Continue reading
Posted Sep 14, 2015 at China Blog
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When I walked back to the satellite building of the hotel where I am staying last night, I passed this van / bus in the twilight. Today I had extensive conversations with my (new) colleagues at the Yunnan Academy of Forestry about the growth of organic both in the USA and in China. Tonight, I noticed that there was an open garage door right in front of the bus, with two Isuzu cabovers backed up to it, loading goods. There was also another, smaller van, with a similar paint job (branding?) parked nearby. I think I may have landed in... Continue reading
Posted Sep 14, 2015 at China Blog
Here is a link to the photo gallery of products for sale at the Lek Shi downtown farmers market (one of many I am sure). The pix are mostly of things you won't see in the States, and I have tried to identify them where I can... Photo Gallery of Lek Shi Market in Lek Shi, Sichuan, China. Continue reading
Posted Sep 13, 2015 at China Blog
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At this hotel you have to closely examine everything before you touch, due to hidden price tags (not really hidden, but a number surrounded by Chinese characters). This bathroom rack is the classic: We have your shaving kit (15), we have your bamboo fiber towel (15), your men's underwear (18), your ladies panties (18), your condoms (30) and your nail care kit (15)...what else could the happy couple need...oh, but we're not a couple...DAMN! I think we can tell, by the relative pricing -- underwear costs more than a shaving kit? -- what people really value when they are staying... Continue reading
Posted Sep 13, 2015 at China Blog
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Made it to the hotel in Kunming by lunchtime. There was a little mixup in that my host took me to this really flashy marble and mirror place where they did not seem to have my name on the list. In the end it turned out that the "hotel complex" included this new international posh-posh and its older brethren across the way a couple of hundred yards, which is where I ended up. Truth be told I am happier over here. It is a classic mild climate place, a ring of three stories (no elevator) around a central courtyard full... Continue reading
Posted Sep 13, 2015 at China Blog
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Made it to airport without incident, and check in was no problem once I figured out the Chinese menu on the ticket machine. Just as quick and easy as the States. And the security line was not more than 10-15 minutes despite the enormous crowds here on a Sunday morning. The metal in my ankle still does not seem to set off any of these machines (I have been through a dozen or so since the surgery). Oddly, they did not ask me to take off my (money) belt, but they did want to scan my wallet. And they put... Continue reading
Posted Sep 13, 2015 at China Blog
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Am scrambling to make the 7:00 am airport shuttle. Had about 10 minutes for breakfast: boiled egg, some potatoes (!) plus some green beans and pickled cucumber with garlic (not to mention the requisite melon). Had to pass on the coffee, as it was the same as at the Chengdu Hotel, which is to say a fifty-fifty mix of Nescafe instant and powdered milk. The tea was good though. I also decided to pass on the “Cold Pig Ears” as they seemed a bit heavy early in the morning. Now maybe a pig foot .THAT I could do! Continue reading
Posted Sep 13, 2015 at China Blog
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The food court at the Asia Mall, such as it was, had a wide variety of choices including deep fried octopus (with head up and tentacles splayed in a perfect star pattern). I passed on that, but my eye was caught by the shrimps...and next to them the rabbit heads (it was Sherry that identified them for me). Ummm, boy! Later in the day, after visiting the Wenshu Monastery, we cruised the surrounding streets and came upon a sort of farmers market that had an incredible and unusual lineup. More on that in another post, and I hope to put... Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2015 at China Blog
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It's been just under a week, but it seems I have my chops back (sticks that is). Spent the last couple of hours at the big family dinner for my friend Rongna Liang, who was the inspiration -- and the sparkplug -- for this whole trip. Check out this spread: Its all what I have come to know as the social round table. That is the most striking difference I have noticed about China versus the US: they are very social people while we are very isolated people (this is aside from the fact that it seems they will eat... Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2015 at China Blog
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Even today was totally consumed, but that was because of the graciousness of my hosts. Even though I switched from "foreign expert" to "tourist" this morning (and shot off my Modern Farmer article that was promised a week ago) my handler Sherry was with me all day. It was a shopping day, getting presents for all the home folk (more to do in Kunming where I land tomorrow) and she saved me immense amounts of Yuan by haggling in the home language. Most of the stuff was bought at the Asia Mall, a touristy place near the Tibetan neighborhood I... Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2015 at China Blog
No I am not talking about the bricks and mortar thing built on the northern border to keep out the invading hordes on horseback, but the the virtual wall built to keep resident citizens from accessing Google, or Yahoo, or Facebook or YouTube (or more than two thousand other websites). It took me a couple of days to figure out how to beat it but it hasn't been easy, especially since I am changing hotels daily and on the road dawn to dusk visiting far flung sites with a bunch of friends and colleagues from the hort trade. (I have... Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2015 at China Blog
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I am now in Chengdu...24 hours after leaving DC. The flight(s) were uneventful, though there was a delay in SF and so I arrived shortly after the scheduled time. Ms Sun, who has been my contact and will be my translator, was waiting at the airport and all went smoothly. We start the program tomorrow at 9 am local time. Unfortunately I cannot log in to my Gmail account (Great Firewall?) so I cannot communicate directly with my particulars, and I apologize; I am looking into VPNs or perhaps creating a new and temporary email account to stay in touch.... Continue reading
Posted Sep 6, 2015 at China Blog
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Do hate getting up at 5 am, though. Fantastic sleeping weather...rooster crowing, etc., etc. But launch we must! On to Dulles, On to San Fran, Off to Chengdu, Donner & Blitzen... Continue reading
Posted Sep 5, 2015 at China Blog
A friend from Shepherdstown posted this hilarious clip of The Donald: YouTube video of The Donald chanting his China Mantra. I think I will put it on my cell phone in case he calls...then I will know it is him ...<G> Continue reading
Posted Sep 3, 2015 at China Blog
justso has shared their blog Music Of The Spheres
Sep 3, 2015
justso has shared their blog Facing The Crowd
Sep 3, 2015
justso has shared their blog Black and White Universe
Sep 3, 2015
Coming down to the wire...have the visa finally (a ten year visa!) after a trip into DC, and the plane tickets. The seats are terrible, but then I have a lot of work to do anyway, preparing additional lectures. Down now to the stage we always go through when preparing for significant travel: the TO DO List and the TO BUY list. The TO DO of course includes things like call the bank so they don't decline my Credit/ATM cards; make sure all the bills that come do while I am gone are paid; water the house plants and make... Continue reading
Posted Sep 3, 2015 at China Blog