Tag: environmental awareness
The land crossing from Laos into China gave me a bit of a sphincter workout. The border official saw that I had repeatedly gone in and out of China in the last few years and asked me a bunch of questions. First, he just wanted to get to know me. He even asked me who my father is, and what does he do. Then he called his boss, who immediately started bragging about their new learning computers, with neural net processors, designed to sniff out miscreants like me. In an unexpectedly friendly turn, he offered me a box of donuts. As I reached for one, his stern expression returned. If I wasn’t being completely honest, he threatened, I’d better leave enough room for his fist, because he was looking forward to ramming into my stomach. I felt like puking all over his pig face at that point, but as a show of good faith, I stuffed the whole donut in my mouth and wolfed it down, doing my best to smile brightly the whole time.
For what seemed like hours, I sat there waiting with my ass clenched so tight you couldn’t squeeze a greased bb up there. Finally, he came back with a grin and handed me my passport. As I stood up, finally relaxing my butt cheeks and inadvertently expelling a huge air biscuit, he gave me a hearty smack between my shoulder blades. ”Welcome to China, Mr. ___.”
By the time I got through, the bus had left and I had to hire a motorcycle to catch up to it. Fortunately, everything worked out and I arrived safely in Mengla, a town in southern Yunnan province.
A few kilometers from downtown Mengla is a well-designed little nature reserve and park called Skytree, or 望天樹. It features a protected area of primary rainforest which is home to the endangered Parashorea chinensis Wang Hsie, a tropical tree endemic to this region.
As clean as Singapore is, I don’t get the feeling that its government and citizens are enthusiastic about environmental issues. Bike lanes are almost non-existent, conspicuous consumption is encouraged, and check out these inscrutable recycling bins I found next to the Lavender MRT station:
I haven’t brought it up on the blog before, but those of you who know me may have heard me rave about the live/indie music scene in Beijing. There are a number of venues that have live music performances on most nights, and a lot of artists worth seeing and following.
A couple of weeks ago, I was eating dinner at a small Yunnan restaurant when the owner announced that she was turning out the lights for an hour to bring attention to our dependence on electricity and its environmental impact. At first we thought it was a little weird, but after they gave us candles, it became a surprisingly enjoyable eating experience.
The next day, when I was buying breakfast at one of my stand-bys, a bakery chain called Holiland, I noticed a poster in the window:
Here’s a close-up of the poster:
The poster announces that each of Holiland’s 1000 or so stores in China participated in Earth Hour, an event organized by the World Wildlife Fund to highlight the need to develop a sustainable economy. I was pleasantly surprised to see this kind of participation by a Chinese company. It shows that corporate responsibility (as a concept) does exist in China, and that environmental awareness among Chinese consumers is high enough such that some companies find this kind of publicity worthwhile.
I was deeply humbled to learn that both the restaurant owner and Holiland knew about this Earth Hour thing before I did. Some environmentalist I am, huh?
For those of you in Beijing, I highly recommend the restaurant. It’s a little tough to find, but very cozy, very friendly, with delicious yet inexpensive food.