Chasing Mirages

Quickies

Back in Sipsongpanna

by on Jun.22, 2014, under Quickies

Back in 2012, I ended a southeast Asia trip by crossing overland from Laos into Sipsongpanna.  As you might remember, this southernmost area of Yunnan left some deep impressions in my mind, and it’s a joy to be here again.

I’m now here taking a month-long field course in the Sipsongpanna Tropical Botanical Garden, one of the largest botanical gardens in China and an active research institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.  It’s a precious opportunity to become more familiar with one of my favorite places in this country.

This wouldn’t be chasingmirages without an environmental tragedy.  Here, the most visible destruction is the wholesale conversion of native tropical forest into rubber tree plantations.  More to come on this important issue.  For now, please try to identify the species of dragonfly in my latest macro shot (taken in the Sipsongpanna Tropical Botanical Garden) by leaving a comment below.  Another lame reward for the first person to correctly identify it!

Note: click on the image for the full-size file.  Check out those compound eyes!

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The Wonderful World of Macro Photography

by on Jun.18, 2014, under Quickies

A friend of mine recently convinced me to buy a legacy fully manual macro lens over the critically acclaimed newfangled Olympus 60mm f/2.8 macro lens.  The cost of the legacy lens was less than a quarter of the price of a new Olympus, and I’ve been having a lot of fun with it.  Above is one of my favorite shots so far.

A reward for the first person to correctly identify the species by leaving a reply below.  Hint: the photo was taken in Berkeley, California.

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Wall to Nowhere

by on Jun.17, 2014, under Quickies

Oh God. It’s been the longest hiatus ever.

I’m back in China for the summer, no more excuses.  Last week I visited the crumbling Great Wall near the village of Long Quan Yu (龍泉峪).  There’s an awesome B&B with cabins built on the mountainside from which we enjoyed panoramic views and stargazing through floor-to-ceiling windows.

The best part of it was, the running water came from mountain springs.  It’s the first time I’ve drunk straight from the faucet in China.  The only notable consequence was five full days of simultaneous projectile vomiting and incendiary diarrhea.  On the bright side, I lost five kilos and regained a six-pack.

Just kidding, the water was really damn good.

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Possibly the worst Chinese name ever, but also the most fitting

by on Dec.11, 2013, under Quickies

According to this sign placed by the government agency in charge of permitting rare earth metal extraction, the name of the person in charge of this particular mining operation is 鐘賤林.  The first character, 鐘, is zhong1 in pinyin and means “clock”.  It’s not meaningful here because it’s a surname.  The second character, however, is very rarely seen in Chinese names because of its overwhelmingly negative meaning and connotation.  (jian4) means despicable or cheap, and is often used in the epithet “賤人” which means “slut” or just a real piece of shit.  The last character, 林 (lin2), means forest.  So this guy’s name means “despicable forest”.  Fitting for a government official responsible for supervising a rare earth mine.

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A curious child

by on Jun.28, 2013, under Quickies

A few baby langurs were born this year despite the instability of the family group.  This one’s about a month old.  Note that its face is not as dark as its mother’s, but also not as pale as a newborn’s would be.

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