Soap Box Saturday: Change

Notice the rooftops of these apartment buildings in Kunming, Yunnan Province, China. They are covered in solar hot water units.

Kunming rooftops.
Kunming rooftops.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the ways in which the Chinese are embracing change: in fact, Kunming’s initiatives in the solar industry field made a huge impact on me. It removed all those stereotypical views one might hold about China, overcrowding and pollution. They are working on change at a rapid rate.

Australia is a land of plentiful sunshine whose political leaders are backward in accepting change. This happens at the Federal, State and local government level. All have their heads in the sand, even those who purport to be Green. Our local councils could be leaders in change, by insisting that all new inner city developments and apartment blocks include solar features.

Solar Power in Kunming
Solar Power in Kunming

In the photo below, the dedicated motorbike and bike lane is sectioned off from the other traffic. I wandered down these wide boulevards and was not aware of the any motorbike noise or pollution: I then observed that they were all electric.

Orderly traffic in the centre of the city: electrric bikes, buses
Orderly traffic in the centre of the city: electric bikes, buses

 Worth quoting from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kunming#Solar_energy

In July 2008, Kunming began to implement a program to transform the city’s solar energy industry into a US$8.8 billion industrial base in China by 2013. Kunming receives an annual average sunshine of more than 2,400 hours. Each 1 kW PV system has the potential to generate 1500 kilowatt-hours of electricity a year from solar energy.

The government plans to put in place policies (low-interest loans, tax exemption and other concessions or subsidies) and a fund to encourage private sector participation in the city’s solar energy-based infrastructure development. The fund, which will be included in the municipal government’s annual budget, will particularly finance LED for public lighting, solar projects, and the propagation of energy saving projects.

As of 2007, the Kunming Economic Committee listed about 130 solar energy enterprises in the city. Of these, 118 enterprises produce solar lamps and solar water heaters, with a combined total production value of about US$43.8 million, and 10 enterprises are engaged in solar photovoltaic cells manufacturing, with a total production value of about US$51.2 million.

A Door in an Ancient City, China

Doors in China are the most important feature of a house. The front door lets in good energy and welcomes family and friends, but also keeps away demons and intruders. Inviting but guarded. Solid and protective.

Another door in Dali, Yunnan, China.
A door in Dali, Yunnan, China.
Doo, Lijiang. Just for the texture.
Door, Lijiang, China. Just for the texture.
A door in Dali, Yunnan, China
Another door in Dali, Yunnan, China
Door, Lijiang, China
Door, Lijiang, China

I adore a good door! Some great doors in China may be found in Dali and Lijiang, Yunnan Province. Both are ancient walled cities and free of traffic, the latter being a Unesco world heritage site.

Happy Chinese New Year and a Cucumber Salad

Happy Chinese New Year to all in this year of the Goat! In Chinese astrology, goats are described as peace-loving, kind and popular. They can be helpful and trusting but also ‘clinging’ and resistant to change. Were you born in the following years 1931, 43, 55, 67, 79, 91, 2003, 2015? If so, it’s your year!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACelebrating Chinese New Year here in Australia, means planning a few little dishes from that wonderful country. A refreshing salad for a hot day, Cucumber salad Yunnan Style makes use of the current cucumber and chilli glut. My addition of tuna is not traditional but transforms the salad into a light lunch. Leave out the tuna if using the salad as a side dish.

cucumbers galore
cucumbers galore

I am using my apple cucumbers as these have appeared in plague proportions. They are too seedy for most dishes, but with seeds removed, work well in this quick and easy salad.

Cucumber Salad Yunnan Style.

  • 2 medium cucumbers, peeled and seeded.
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of castor sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1-2 hot chilli, seeded and sliced finely
  • 1 can of tuna in oil, drained and flaked
  •  A little Sichuan pepper oil or sesame oil to dress
  • chopped coriander leaves
  1. Peel and seed the cucumbers, cut the cucumbers vertically then diagonally into 3 cm chunks place in a bowl. Toss with the vinegar, sugar and salt and marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes or longer.
  2. When ready to serve, add chilli slices, flaked tuna and coriander leaves.
  3. Dress with a drizzle of Sichuan pepper oil or Sesame oil.

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Additions and subtractions.

  • Add more chilli if you grow the milder variety.
  • If using small Lebanese cucumbers, use more and leave half the skin on in strips.
  • add toasted sesame seeds.
  • For a Japanese twist, add cut up thin strips of nori seaweed and dress with toasted sesame and sesame oil.
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Travel Theme: Broken in Yunnan

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATravelling around Yunnan Province, China this year, it was a pleasure to spend a week in the ancient town of Dali. After each long day of walking and touring around Lake Erhai, we would return to our comfortable guesthouse, the Jade Emu, run by a Chinese -Australian couple. Next door, they also run a quaint little restaurant, La Dolce Vita, with an Italian menu, wine, along with a book exchange, cafe and DIY laundry. These Western services are most welcome, especially for the long term guest,  but then so are the broken bikes used as decor.

Cafe in a Melbourne suburb? No, Dali, China.
Cafe in a Melbourne suburb? No, Dali, China.

The husband is from Melbourne: this would explain the broken bikes in the cafe garden, an appealing idea to copy.  Melbournians love to up-cycle junk.

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The Jade Emu is located in a quiet precinct just off the Yunnan -Tibet Highway, a road that I wouldn’t mind travelling along next time.

Thanks once again to Ailsa for the travel theme.

Travel Theme: Noise

We’re back in Lijiang, Yunnan Province, China. At night, the bars light up, with each bar employing a band or singer. The noise can be overwhelming, but the locals love to party.  I preferred wandering the streets of this ancient Chinese city in the day time, when the cobblestoned streets were quiet and empty.

You can find some more noisy shots at Ailsa’s travel photography site.  And I recommend my brother’s take on this theme too. Take a look at Mick’s Cogs.

Lijiang by night.
Lijiang by night.

Travel Themes: Merchandise

Scarves and wraps re essential at night.
Scarves and wraps re essential at night.

Merchandise in the old towns of Dali and Lijiang, in Yunann Province, China,  is colourful and tempting. Lijiang is a Unesco World Heritage site with an altitude of 2,500 meteres above sea level. It can get cold at night, even in summer. Both towns are popular with young Chinese travellers, particularly on the weekends, when they come to party and shop. The cobblestoned streets are closed to traffic, making the evening promenade a pleasant experience.  An appealing travel challenge from Ailsa this week.

All the tea in China.
All the tea in China.
A basket of combs for sale!
A basket of combs for sale!
Young girls shop for strawberries.
Young women shop for strawberries.