Sundance Catalog

Sundance Catalog

Friday, September 19, 2014

Traveling in CHINA Since 1985 by Robert Glenn Ketchum

Traveling in CHINA Since 1985 by Robert Glenn Ketchum

During the reign of Mao (1949-1976), China was a closed country. China in the 1980’s was 80% rural, with no outside visitors, particularly from the West. When China opened to travelers, the Chinese government placed severe limitations on who was allowed to enter the country. Earthwatch was one organization that allowed foreigners to visit China without going through too much red-tape. These photographs are a first glimpse into China in the mid-1980’s by world-renowned Conservation Photographer Robert Glenn Ketchum. 




Friday, September 19, 2014

Traveling in China Since 1985, #97
CHINA #97: Those who had awakened early to watch the #fog spectacle from a pavilion would be disappointed this morning; it dawned relatively clear and without any fog. There was the haze of rising humidity in the air and it looked like the day was warming up without any clouds building. The gods had blessed us and we would not be getting dripped upon by fog-shrouded trees, so we didn't have to wear our steamy plastic ponchos. From this point, the stairs started down into a narrow #canyon and some dark morning shadows... after that we have no clue! As you can see from this image, this is rugged terrain, and again THE question arose, how much "up" will there be in order to get down? Wait 'till you see the stairs!!!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2014, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, September 12, 2014

Traveling in China Since 1985, #96
CHINA #96: At the top of the stairs Carey and I paused one last time to look back at our #Behai hotel group as the sun rose upon it. We jokingly pondered about how our guide's day would unfold when we did not come down for breakfast with him. By the time he would go to our room and find the luggage, we would be long gone. Our plan was good so far and the day looked to be clear and warming. From where we were presently standing, it was obvious the path was starting down, the question was - as it often is when you hike in the mountains - how many "ups" will there be as we work our way down. More than 60,000 stairs is A LOT of stairs!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2014, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, September 5, 2014

Traveling in China Since 1985, #95
CHINA #95: Many people get up before dawn to hike to their favorite viewing terrace for sunrise, so it did not seem unusual that Carey and I were among them. Our daypacks also seemed quite normal because most tourists wore some form of one for water, food, and their jackets. In the dark we crossed some lateral pathways, past guest houses of varying quality, and then we crossed through a courtyard of a working community. From here we climbed stairs for a short while. On the way up the first staircase of the day, the sun rose. Looking back, the courtyard terrace was increasingly active as people came out to take-in the warmth of the sun, have a good cigarette, and get ready for work. This was the last clutch of people, and there was NO ONE else on the stairs in front of us at the moment because our direction went away from the most desirable sunrise viewing terraces. We were off...
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2014, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Traveling in China Since 1985, #94
CHINA #94: Carey and I walked to this more remote sunset view, in part, because it was the pathway we would follow out and down in the morning. From our hotel, we had to navigate some guest houses where tourists were staying, as well as several employee "villages" in order to reach this spot.  This is where the staircase first plunges downward (to the left in this picture), leaving the 'service' area of the mountain, entering the 'wilder' mountain park. We needed to be sure of our route, so in the early morning hour of our departure, we would lose no time being confused by the numerous trails. Staring down into the darkening abyss at the infinity of stairs, I thought of a quote from a great Alaskan adventurer Norman Vaughan, who said, "The only death you die is the death you die every day by not living. Dream big and dare to fail." So, here we go... we are a LONG way from home!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2014, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Traveling in China Since 1985, #93
CHINA #93: So, our plan was hatched! The weather remained clear and drier, and there was a beautiful sunset - a fitting last night for us. We decided we'd walk down the mountain, and our daypacks were prepped. Claiming we were tired and wanted to go to bed early, after dinner we packed our suitcases and pinned a note on them that told our guide what we were doing. In effect it said, "We have decided to walk down. Please take our bags down, register, and check them in at our hotel in the valley. You may expect to see us around 6-7 this evening at the normal dinner hour. We will have dinner with you as usual."  So we went to bed, planning to wake and leave the hotel before sunrise in order that we would be well down the staircase before anyone knew what we were doing. Did we know what we were doing!?!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2014, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Traveling in China Since 1985, #92
CHINA #92: As Carey and I walked back toward our hotel that evening, we were also encouraged by some excellent weather. The humidity had dropped and skies were clearing. There might even be a sunset. Were it to rain, we might reconsider our descent attempt as it would certainly make the stairs more difficult, if not outright dangerous. In this picture, the bearers are carrying supplies between the accommodations, and have to do everything using shoulder-yokes as there are too many staircases to use wheels. Seeing them, however, it did occur to us that we should not depend on food nor water at #YuPingLu, the supposed half-way guest house, and so we would need to squirrel-away (no pun intended) some extra food and water tonight without making our guide suspicious.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2014, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, August 8, 2014

Traveling in China Since 1985, #91
CHINA #91: Having spent a good bit of the day pondering our options to descend the #mountain the next morning, Carey and I visited some of our favorite views in the evening light before heading back toward our hotel. We decided that we could NOT come this far and then just see a small portion of the entire mountain park. We learned there was a "Chinese-only" guest house called #YuPingLu. Supposedly it was "not suitable" for us to overnight, however it did have food and water, AND it was "about" half-way down. Also, Yu Ping Lu was on the staircase we needed to follow to arrive in the correct valley of our hotel, so we decided to go. Since there were always LOTS of people on the stairs moving up and down the mountain, we felt confident that if we were unsure of our direction, we could always ask for "Yu Ping Lu?"
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2014, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, August 1, 2014

Traveling in China Since 1985, #90
CHINA #90: As Carey and I sat on the stone stairs away from the crowded view platforms and pavilions, we pondered what we would do the next day; our departure date from the top of the mountain. Mount #Huangshan is a massive:  72 summits above 3,000-feet covering an area described as "154-Square Kilometers of Scenic attraction". Much of this is tied together by these stairs we are sitting on and there are more than 60,000 stairs, some sections as much as 1,500 years old! Without readable maps and no topographic information, attempting to walk down in one day posed many unknowable dangers.  How much would we have to go up, to go down? What would all that down-stair pounding do to our ankles and knees? What if we came to a trail split and could not read the sign, going down into the wrong valley could take us into an entirely different part of China? Carey and I were good outdoor adventurers and fit enough, BUT the scale of the task, and the challenges of navigating with no language skills, posed serious issues....
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2014, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, July 25, 2014

Traveling in China Since 1985, #89
CHINA #89: After oohing and aahing appropriately at the fog/spires/sunrise, Carey I walked many of the same paths as the day before, and found them and their pavilions as crowded and noisy as they were previously. Eventually we sought out a quiet spot or two, in an "odd" place so we could enjoy #Huangshan in some solitude... and discuss the future. We had one more night on top, and then our guide was to take us back down by cable car, where we would overnight at a hotel in the valley once again, before departing by bus the next day. The guide made it VERY clear that he was not walking down, and that he felt quite sure we were not capable of doing so either. We knew from reading there was SO much more to the mountain, and many THOUSANDS of stairs we had not seen, all below us. But amazingly -- probably intentionally -- there were no trail maps in #English, and even the #Chinese ones we looked at seemed highly confusing and completely without topographic description. So could it be done in one day, and how hard could it be?
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2014, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Traveling in China Since 1985, #88
CHINA #88: I would like to thank #Patagonia (@patagonia) for allowing me to be part of their Pro Program for most of my career. I have sported their gear since inception - this is one of their fleece jackets. I would also like to thank my wife at the time, Carey for taking these last two pictures (she is also wearing Patagonia fleece). Of all the images I made, perhaps none captures the pure grace of the unique #Huangshan pines as well as this one. Because of the fog, it has become colorless and without detail - rather like a Chinese brush painting. I wonder what I was photographing?
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2014, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, July 11, 2014

Traveling in China Since 1985, #87
CHINA #87: Having dutifully staked out our vantage point of choice the day before, we joined hundreds of other guests at #dawn to witness #Huangshan's spires appear as the rising sun burned off the fog. During the night, that fog was so dense the trees dripped like a steady rain. Everything was wet in the morning and our hotel provided everyone with plastic ponchos. I was glad to have my fleece, as the mountain height made the nights and mornings cold. Here, I peer into the void..."waiting-for-the-sun." TY, JM!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2014, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, July 4, 2014

Traveling in China Since 1985, #86
CHINA #86: As the day wore on, the terraces preferred for sunset-viewing began to fill with people so Carey and I chose one and joined in. Given the great humidity in the air, I suspected we were not really going to see the #sun go down, it would just fade into the haze. Nonetheless JUST BEING HERE was amusing to say the least. First, all the men took turns photographing the one woman. Then they noticed me, and someone spoke a bit of #English so there was some conversation WITH me, and certainly a great deal of conversation ABOUT me (and my wife, Carey) as well. Besides my presence, the other things most interesting to them were my hiking boots and my #Patagonia fleece jacket. At this point in time, the #Chinese had not yet seen #fleece, so one of the final questions before we all departed to our different hotels for the night was - could they touch the fleece? There was no sunset to speak of, haze swallowed the sun....
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2014, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, June 27, 2014

Traveling in China Since 1985, #85
CHINA #85: Carey and I soon discovered that not only were the viewing areas always crowded BUT it seemed imperative within the culture of the #Chinese that with each new arrival, those already there would immediately guide them as to what was "important" to view. AND universally, at every subtle change of light the whole group would huzzah loudly. As we would soon find out, during the morning sunrise event, these crowded terraces and pavilions would be hidden in the mist and not visible, but you could certainly HEAR any group where something was happening because they would quite literally be whooping and shouting. The woman at the center of this picture has made herself the "official" guide for this terrace and we watched for the better part of an hour as she engaged any and all with a constant stream of dialogue, occasionally stopping to point at something and shout excitedly.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2014, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, June 20, 2014

Traveling in China Since 1985, #84
CHINA #84: There was one other unique aspect to the viewing #pavilions and #platforms, regardless of which one you chose to visit, you would find many new "friends" already there when you arrived, and many more circulating through - nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd. It was the middle of the week on a spring day, and I was astounded by the number of tourists circulating on this #mountain, especially since we were warned that this area was as yet "undeveloped" for #tourism and suitable facilities were few and far between.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2014, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, June 13, 2014

Traveling in China Since 1985, #83
CHINA #83: Pavilions and viewing platforms were not just about the larger, overall view of the #landscape. Some of them were built to ponder certain trees, or perhaps a wall of a summit that might be lighted at dawn/dusk in a spectacular way. In this image I am looking down a narrow #canyon that according to the sign has a trail in it, but my view platform has been built to watch the play of light caused by the extreme turn in the angle of the canyon.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2014, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, June 6, 2014

Traveling in China Since 1985, #82
CHINA #82: Not all #vista #pavilions were on #summits: other viewing areas were more discreet, and not so obvious about their purpose. Tucked away in some places, you would wonder why they were placed where they were... until you stood there and saw the perspective offered, many times ONLY viewable from that specific pavilion or perch! There were hundreds of these locations all over the #mountain, and as we would learn, there were many more below us that could not be accessed from the ridge trail along the summit and we would only discover them on our descent.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2014, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, May 30, 2014

Traveling in China Since 1985, #81
CHINA #81: The step staircase along the connected ridgeline of Mt. #Huangshan was generally a subtle rise or fall as it wound its way around spires and valleys. The carved stairs branching off from the ridgeline were often the opposite, either going straight up, or plunging down to some preferred viewing spot. The more obvious viewing locations were atop the tallest spires, many of which were "destination" locations that had specific names such as "Bright Summit Peak" and "Capital of Heaven Peak". These elevated locations were often breathtaking in their views AND exposure... as well as the climb to get there.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2014, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, May 23, 2014

Traveling in China Since 1985, #80
CHINA #80: So, to wrap your mind around this #UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mount #Huangshan is massif of granite that has been glacially carved into spectacular spires and deep valleys, all of this rising 6,000+ feet above a hot, wet landscape of agriculture. The daily temperature differentials create a dense morning fog on most days that sun eventually burns off.  To witness the spectacle of this burn-off as the spires and sculptural trees appear, and disappear, in the clearing air, the ever-industrious Chinese created a VAST system of "viewing" pavilions connected by stone pathways and stairs, many times carved right out of the mountain. Look carefully at this image on the largest screen you can create - you will not only notice the sizable group of people at the visible viewing pavilion, up and to the right you can also see A LOT more people at a trail junction, one part of which dives down a flight of stairs, the other part slowly ascending to the left side of the ridge. The more you carefully scanned the landscape in any direction, the more stairs and trails you could begin to see once you realized they were there.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2014, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, May 16, 2014

Traveling in China Since 1985, #79
CHINA #79: With more than 200 days of the year offering foggy, moist conditions, the upper parts of Mount #Huangshan support a #forest with a diverse array of #trees. Most famously, the Huangshan #pine is particularly revered as "vigorous" because it grows right out of cracks in the granite rocks. It also takes on some spectacular, sculptural forms as it gets shaped by the winds at higher elevations. Further down the mountain, in foothills and valleys closer to the base-resort, that moisture makes Huangshan one of the premier #greentea growing areas in all #China as we would later learn during our descent adventure.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2014, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, May 9, 2014

Traveling in China Since 1985, #78
CHINA #78: Mount #Huangshan is a massif of #granite #spires that was formerly a #seabed in the #Mesozoic (100 million years ago). After being uplifted, it was #glaciated, carving it into the dynamic visual #landscape we see today. The massif rises nearly 6,000-feet from a valley floor that is low, agricultural, water-rich, and VERY hot and humid during a good part of the year. As a result, the passage of the day on top of Huangshan usually starts with a dense, wet fog early in the morning which slowly clears - first above the spires and peaks, then slowly working its way down the mountain. Sometimes from the pavilions and terraces that have come into the sun, the waves of fog rolling below look like the ocean, so there are viewing terraces that have been named "North Sea" and "South Sea." IF it clears, the views are usually affected by the humidity in the air that increases throughout the day, often obscuring the distant valleys by late afternoon, and eventually the sun before it actually sets.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2014, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, May 2, 2014

Traveling in China Since 1985, #77
CHINA #77: It took a good bit of the day to get to the #Behai hotel complex, check in, and receive our luggage, but after lunch Carey and I came out to explore the trail along the summit ridge. Our guide made it VERY clear that we were on our own and he was NOT going to "guide" us anywhere and wear himself out for what he viewed would be a small tip. We were fine with that, and in fact, glad to be off on our own. It was a relatively nice day, so the walkway was filled with people going from one #pavilion to another to take in various "famous" views. As we walked the full length of the ridge path, scouting which spires we might ascend, and what terrace might be most appropriate for the sunset, I began to more fully understand the unique #environment of #Huangshan.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2014, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, April 25, 2014

Traveling in China Since 1985, #76
CHINA #76: Our path continued to ascend briefly and then came to a broad flat, paved walkway that ran along the spine of the ridge. It did a minimum amount of rising and falling and it was crowded with many people, almost ALL whom were #Chinese. As we strolled along the walk, various signs would indicate stair trails to viewing pavilions located up on spires which we were passing by. Eventually, we turned a corner that opened to a view in the forest and below us, nestled against the mountain was the #Beihai hotel complex; our home for the next few days.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2014, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Traveling in China Since 1985, #75
CHINA #75: Our cable tram car rumbled slowly into a small valley and settled onto an offloading platform. Our guide said that we would walk up from here to where our hotel was located and the luggage would be brought to our rooms later by bearers. The stairs we followed took us through the housing of some of those who worked on the mountain. This was like a small mountain village and those who lived here did not often descend. Their jobs were related to tourism at the summit, and food and supplies were brought up to them by the tram. About 20-minutes into the walk up the stairs, our guide asked if we were tired. We said no but he assured us we would be as there would be nowhere we would go in the next few days that did not involve a substantial amount of climbing and descending.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2014, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Traveling in China Since 1985, #74
CHINA #74: As we neared the summit of Mount #Huangshan I began to discern tiny figures moving around in the landscape. As my eye followed them through the screen of trees, I began to realize that there were, INDEED, stairs, railings, AND little pavilions ascending virtually every spire that we could see (in complete mockery of the words uttered by my art history professor at #UCLA). Our guide explained that we should investigate each spire/pavilion and decide from which one we would watch the sunrise. He noted that by dawn, we would be in a dense summit fog that would burn off as the day warmed up, and as it did so, various spires and views would move in and out of visibility as the fog evaporated - SURE sounds like those paintings we were studying !!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2014, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, April 4, 2014

Traveling in China Since 1985, #73
CHINA #73: The higher the cable car rose the more amazing Mount #Huangshan became. The #spires grew more abrupt and the gardens blooming from their terraces included many flowering trees and others clearly shaped by #bonsai gardeners. I was struck by something told me in an "art history" course at #UCLA. Taught by an arrogant British professor, when he showed us these images as painted scrolls, he described them as "utterly fictional" representations of nature that lacked any sense of depth or perspective. He openly scoffed at the peaks and trees "floating" in clouds and the "completely incorrect in scale" stairs and pavilions that "attempted" to connect them all. Watching this pass by from a swinging cable car full of excited #Chinese, I began thinking BUT THIS IS WHAT THOSE PEAKS AND TREES ACTUALLY LOOK LIKE !!!! I also began to wonder about those stairs and pavilions...
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2014, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, March 28, 2014

Traveling in China Since 1985, #72
CHINA #72: My colleagues in #Suzhou, Dr. He Shanan and Director Zhang Meifang of the #SuzhouEmbroideryResearchInstitute had quite intentionally sent Carey and me to Mt. #Huangshan at great organizational difficulty since we were NOT part of a tour, and because they wanted us to appreciate something about this location. As the mist cleared and the summits and treeline emerged, I realized I was looking at the location depicted in much of #Chinese #scroll #painting. Even if you don't follow #art, most of us have seen these scrolls - tall and thin, they feature spiky #mountains appearing in and out of the clouds, adorned with dramatic, wind-swept trees. #Waterfalls cascade down, and intricate stairs seem carved into the #pinnacles which lead up to little, pavilions at advantageous locations. Suddenly, something VERY MUCH like those paintings was revealing itself to us as the cable car rose.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2014, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, March 21, 2014

Traveling in China Since 1985, #71
CHINA #71: Our guide joined us for breakfast early the next morning and was excited to tell us the #weather was changing so he was sure it would be VERY nice on top. We collected our luggage and shuttled it over to the tram area, where we boarded a marginal cable car full of #Chinese (we WERE the ONLY foreigners that day) - and started up. We were quickly above the forest and out of the gloom of fog as he predicted. As our view expanded, the landscape revealed itself rather dramatically, and immediately the unique rock formations and tree shapes of Mt. Huangshan were recognizable. This was going to be an amazing journey!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2014, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, March 14, 2014

Traveling in China Since 1985, #70
CHINA #70: Our hotel enclave was furthest up the canyon in the wet-est, drippy-est part forest, but literally at the start of the pathway up #HuangShan. We were expected at the hotel, given a very nice room with a view, and told our guide would meet us for dinner. It never cleared that day and remained dark and VERY wet with a heavy fog constantly rolling through. That night at dinner, our guide (who did speak good English) assured us it would be clear when we moved to our next hotel on top of the mountain. Excited, we asked if we could walk up - to which he laughed. First, he said, there were 40,000 steps in the "staircase", few could walk it in a day. Second, the one "inn" at the mid-point where we could stay was "Chinese-only". And third, and most importantly, he told us that even for a larger group that would give him a bigger tip, he would not "damage" his legs with such a trip. We would meet him in the morning and be taken to the top by the one aerial tram operating on the mountain at that time. With reservations for two nights in a hotel at the top, he assured us there would be much hiking and many things to see.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2014, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, March 7, 2014

Traveling in China Since 1985, #69
CHINA #69: Given the condition of the roads and bridges, it was hard to imagine that anyone actually visited here and certainly NOT in a tour bus, nonetheless our driver indicated later in the day the road would be impassable because of (#Chinese) tourist traffic. The Chinese believe every Chinese person should ascend Mount #HuangShan - once in their youth, and once again before they die - and many take that intention very seriously. As we were about to find out, this valley was not as remote as it seemed. The road narrowed even further and rose more steeply, plunging us into a fog. The driver said it meant we were nearing the base of the mountain. Suddenly an entire village appeared - hotels, guest houses, restaurants, and (of course) stores selling memorabilia, all clinging to the hillside overlooking a river, and facing a view of the mountain (when visible). Our driver / taxi had been arranged for us before our arrival and he had also been told which hotel we were staying in. Once he got us there, we were told we would meet a guide that spoke "some" English.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2014, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, February 28, 2014

Traveling in China Since 1985, #68
CHINA #68: My then wife, Carey, and I had come to #China as part of the #UCLA-China Exchange Program and I was hoping to collaborate with the #SuzhouEmbroideryResearchInstitute (#SERI) to turn my #photographs into #embroidered panels and standing screens. I write about this specifically in my Thursday morning blogpost: #SILKROAD. The process of creating an #embroidery takes much time and discussion. Often there had to be some necessary breaks for both the #embroiderers and ourselves as the meetings were all-day long over many days. During the breaks it was agreed, Carey and I should travel and see some of the locations significant to the development of #Chinese art. One such place, considered a "sacred" mountain was not far away, Mt. Huang Shan, so with much effort, it was arranged for us to go there. I say effort because we were NOT part of a tour, AND Huang Shan was not yet considered "ready" for foreign tourism. Without a tour, guide, or bus, we arrived at a small country rail station in the dark of night and were picked up by a "taxi." As we wound our way towards our destination, it grew lighter and I could see we were driving up a narrow river valley on a REALLY marginal road, crossing the river frequently on even more marginal bridges. Clearly this was going to be interesting...
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2014, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, February 14, 2014

China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #67
CHINA #67: I would pay #Shanghai many more visits over the next 25-years, giving me a chance to peel back a few of the layers on the remarkable #Chinese culture the city reflected. However, it was time for Carey and me to take the train to #Suzhou and meet our "hosts" at the #SuzhouEmbroideryResearchInstitute (#SERI) - the intended purpose of my travels to #China. At this point, I am also going to alter my China blog - it will now split into TWO parts: one part, WELCOME TO SUZHOU, will be about my experiences on the streets and canals of old Suzhou while working at SERI since 1985. The other part of the blog will now be exclusively dedicated to SHANGHAI SINCE 1985, and the images I made while witnessing one of the greatest urban transformation / modernizations in human history. Welcome to OZ....
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2014, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, February 7, 2014

China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #66
CHINA #66: Regardless of the wear, the unrepair, and the hazy air, #Shanghai had a palpable energy, which as I would soon discover, was only just beginning to grow. The #Huangpu #River esplanade was one of the most popular public features in the city because from there you could clearly sense this dynamic by watching the traffic of the city streets on one side, and the industrial traffic of the river on the other. This is a view of the juncture of the #Suzhou river with the Haungpu. In the background is one of the great shipyards in the world at the time - that is an area now known as the #Pudong Financial District. In 1985 you will note few tall buildings - today Pudong supports one of Shanghai's greatest concentration of #skyscrapers, including 3 of the world's tallest buildings and the shipyard is gone. The landmark, #PearlTower, would be quite obvious across the river if this picture were taken today and the cranes would be dwarfed by the hotels, banks, and businesses.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2014, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, January 31, 2014

China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #65
CHINA #65: This first visit to #Shanghai was brief as we were in transit to #Suzhou, however Shanghai would remain my gateway to Suzhou, so I have been able to watch and record some of Shanghai's remarkable transformation over nearly 30-years. In the two days Carey and I were there, we had to get train tickets, but we also did a lot of walking trying to take-in the city. Besides the superstructure sites that were beginning to pop-up in different neighborhoods, most of the prominent #architecture was along the #Bund, the heart of the city and the location of many of the most prestigious #governmental offices, banks, and the famous #PeaceHotel. Elsewhere, Shanghai in 1985 seemed very #industrial and worn-around-the-edges: neighborhoods were crowded; streets were marginally maintained; the pallor of humidity and air pollution made the days gray and hazy (a portent of things to come); and one wanted to be particular about where and what you ate and drank. I also noted that we did not see a lot of #police but their was a #military presence everywhere.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2014, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, January 24, 2014

China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #64
CHINA #64: As these #super-structures began to rise out of nowhere in traditional neighborhoods of homes and shops, they were like alien landing craft to the locals. The technology of this scale was new, the scale itself was larger than any other buildings in the city of #Shanghai - by A LOT - and they were going up at an astounding pace. Look carefully here at the people in the street, most all of whom have stopped walking or riding their bikes, just to gawk at this bizarre structural "thing" that has planted itself right in their midst.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2014, @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, January 17, 2014
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #63
CHINA #63: #Shanghai was not so fully under construction as #Guangzhou seemed to be, but the assault had begun. Few buildings in Shanghai were taller than 10-stories at the time, and as our hotel was one of them, it allowed me a perspective out, over the city. The view revealed The Beginning - sporadically in the midst of neighborhoods of older homes, the alien-like skeletons of super-structures were rising. In our country we have union/guild workers and institutions like #OSHA, so it is hard for us to imagine what working on one of these buildings AT THIS TIME in Shanghai was like. There are ZERO worker protection concerns; the seasonal weather sends howling winds through these open structures, sometimes blowing substantive construction materials off of top floors; the "guard" rail on the open floors was usually just a rope; many of the workers were migrants from the country and they actually slept on the site and in the structure. It was around these sites I first saw what has become one of my favorite Chinese-English translations: "Beware of the Safety"
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2014, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, January 10, 2014
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #62
CHINA #62: To us in the west, #Shanghai was a legendary #destination in the history of the #Orient, and it seemed no less so upon our arrival. Most of its stately, classic #architecture and #urban neighborhoods had survived the #Mao years. The deconstruction / reconstruction we witnessed in #Guangzhou had begun in Shanghai, but it did not seem to surround us. Instead, I was struck by the density of people living and working together - and the more I studied it through my lens, the more fascinating it became. One of the reasons I love #photography, is that the still image allows us to "re-view" something in greater depth than when you were actually there, and to ponder each and every object's purpose and meaning. In a #civilization this old, that is a lot of information...
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2014, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, January 3, 2014
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #61
CHINA #61: After an exhausting day of #travel in extremely hot and humid conditions, the hotel room was a refuge as it actually had some air-conditioning. Looking out across the city of #Shanghai, it is worth noting in retrospect that few buildings rose above ten stories. The neighborhoods were crowded and busy, and everywhere I turned my lens, there were people. Shanghai would become my gateway to #Suzhou for many years to come, and although I did not realize it at the time, the pictures I was taking would witness one of the biggest cities in the world being COMPLETELY transformed.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2014, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, December 27, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #60
CHINA #60: The next morning Carey and I left early for the #Guangzhou airport as the hotel concierge assured us it would be chaotic with little #English spoken. He also suggested I should make my #cameras less visible so no one would think I was a #journalist. He was right on both accounts: the #airport was insane, hot, and humid. At the check-in window the airlines denied that our vouchers were linked to "saved" tickets and arguing was getting us nowhere... until suddenly we were approached by someone speaking English! He was a young #art #gallery owner from #NewYork who specialized in #Chinese art, and he spoke both #languages fluently. After a brief exchange with the ticket desk, he assured us we would get aboard. The plane was hot, #Shanghai was REALLY hot and humid, and the cab ride to the hotel was just a hint of things to come. At last in our room, Shanghai was waiting... just outside the window.
Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, December 20, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #59
CHINA #59: #Guangzhou was steaming, and a substantive rain began to fall. Carey and I did find a CITS office (China Travel Service) in which someone spoke "some" English, and after much waiting AND discussing, we were sold "vouchers" that supposedly assured our seats on a plane to #Shanghai the next day. CITS did express some surprise to find us traveling on our own, but seemed willing to complete the booking. The vastness of construction throughout the city was amazing, and only years later would I realize how that wave would reach across China. Hotels like The White Swan would not only be transcended... but replaced. Part of bearing witness to all of this has been to enjoy the humorous ironies #Chinese culture presents - here is the lobby of the "new" White Swan hotel in Guangzhou where we are staying. The waterfall is eerily similar to the largest of those on the #Dinghu reserve we just left, right down to the Chinese characters carved into the rocks. Ahh... The Nature!
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Friday, December 13, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #58
CHINA #58: Dr. Skip Lazell, fearless leader of our south-China #rainforest reserve adventures, had advised that Carey and I should stay in the brand new #WhiteSwan #hotel in #Guangzhou because it "was the future". The White Swan was a gleaming, multi-story tower hotel, #HongKong style, and it stood isolated at the edge of the #Pearl river, surrounded by construction. Within the hotel, we were fine as a few staff spoke some English, but with no translator, and neither of us speaking anything but rudimentary Chinese, our mission to find a CITS office (China Travel Service) in the city and attempt to book an airplane flight to #Shanghai would prove amusing and exasperating. In the early morning when we left the hotel, it was already incredibly hot and humid and as we walked, we were constantly and quite literally, surrounded by construction/deconstruction.
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Friday, December 6, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #57
CHINA #57: #Guangzhou in 1986 was one of the first cities in mainland #China to start redevelopment after the #Mao years. A major trade port on the #PearlRiver and near #HongKong, it's huge harbor was trafficked by boats of every description. It was incredibly hot and humid, with a grey, hazy sky, which upon arrival I initially thought to be weather. As I studied the city from the multi-story view of our hotel window, I soon began to realize the haze was #pollution from small-stroke #gas engines and the #noxious yellow smoke of #sulphur being released from #industrial sites, many of which built brick ovens on-site and fired their own bricks. I would learn that this was to be The New China, where everything would eventually be a construction site, and cities like Guangzhou would come to have some of the worst #traffic and #air-pollution in the world.
Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, November 29, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #56
CHINA #56: Even though Carey and I had letters of invitation from the #Suzhou #Embroidery Research Institute (#SERI) to visit and we were part of the prestigious #UCLA - #China Exchange Program, officially #foreigners could not travel independently in China in the 1980's, they had to be with an official 'group'. Since there were no group tours going to Suzhou at the time, our plan was to leave the #Earthwatch #Dinghu #reserve, take a train north to #Guangzhou with our legitimate 'group' of #researchers, and when they switched trains to depart the #mainland for #HongKong, we would just "get lost" at the Guangzhou train station. Yang Biao and group leader, Dr. Skip Lazell advised us that Guangzhou would be very different. Just up the massive #Pearl #River from Honk Kong, Guangzhou was one of mainland China's biggest port cities, consequently it was bustling, AND it was also one of the first cities to begin transitioning to the NEW China. The day we traveled it rained hard, and Gunagzhou seemed especially dank and grey when we arrived...
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Friday, November 22, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #55
CHINA #55: Carey and I had actually come to #China for another purpose. Thru the #UCLA China Exchange Program, I had been invited to “propose” translating my photographic imagery into #embroidery to the #SuzhouEmbroideryResearchInstitute (SERI), a national “treasure” which under #Mao, organized most of the best #embroiderers into a state-supported #guild. She and I would now leave the homeward-bound #Earthwatch group, stay in China, and seek Suzhou by train without guides or translators. On our last morning in the #Dinghu #reserve, we once again walked up the canyon to the #monastery to reflect on it all: the historical rock graffiti; the solitude of the monastery gardens (post #54); the beauty of the wild reserve; and the interesting people that we had encountered so far – like this very small boy practicing his Tai Chi.
Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, November 15, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #54
CHINA #54: Our first “steps” into #China in 1986, as part of an #Earthwatch research group to a #forest #reserve near #Zhaoqing, proved an invaluable introduction to a very different #culture and way of life for my wife, Carey, and me. Working with several #research teams we accomplished good #data collection on frogs, bats and snakes; we actually did acquire, collar, and track a dinosaur (#pangolin); and we liberated some rare ferrets. We did NOT hear or see any silver pheasant or barking deer. Most importantly, thanks to our Chinese colleague, Yang Biao, we experienced #rural and #suburban China intimately, moments before it underwent a great transformation. Here a gardener / monk at the #monastery above our reserve ponders his new #cultivars, one the last encounters my wife and I would have before departing #Dinghu for our next adventure in China.
Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, November 8, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #53
CHINA #53: #Pangolin are #prehistoric and #armor-plated with big #claws, but dangerous as that sounds, they are #nocturnal, shy and non-aggressive. Defensively, like #armadillos, they curl into a ball if threatened. Here, #Earthwatch leader Skip Lazell’s colleague, Numi Goodyear finishes connecting a radio “tag”. The pangolin is not happy about any of this and has placed his head under his tail, between his rear legs (in a ball), only his feet and claws are showing. That night we stumbled our way back UP to the meadow, released him/her and then did succeed in doing some tracking.
Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, November 1, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #52
CHINA #52: At last we had arrived, or so our “guide” told us – this would be #pangolin heaven. He wandered off-trail into the grasses, knelt, and began digging around certain clumps of vegetation, Eventually he unearthed a small pangolin – our mission was to measure, weigh and radio-collar this one - BACK DOWN IN THE #CANYON, then bring it back here AT NIGHT for release, so we could follow it around with #radio-telemetry. Just finding this part of the reserve again without the guide would be difficult, but DOING IT IN THE DARK??? Thus our #Earthwatch group once again helped define the meaning of “crazy foreigners.”
Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, October 25, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #51
CHINA #51: Past the #waterfalls, past the #monastery, off across some ridges and into and a part of the #reserve that we had not previously seen. Pretty much #wild #terrain with lots of animal trails, BUT – part of the marvel of #China’s #ancientness and 1,000’s of years of human habitation - is stuff like this: miles from ANYWHERE, following game paths, we suddenly came upon a small #lake created by a dam, with an elaborate #bridge and surrounding trails that did not lead anywhere else. For whom and why, and when was this done? I saw this as a #visual #metaphor for Robert Frost's poetic line referring to such paths – “I took the one less traveled by.” Apparently, we had, too.
Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, October 18, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #50
CHINA #50: Our #pangolin guide (#poacher) arrived at the #reserve bright and early to lead us to likely #habitat areas within the reserve that we had not located. OF COURSE, the best areas were UP into high #meadows, so once again our #Earthwatch group was back on trails and stairs working our way UP thru the #jungle #canyon. IT WAS HOT AND HUMID ! But, these were the last days of the trip so I was trying to take it all in.
Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, October 11, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #49
CHINA #49: After a long day in #Zhaoqing, our #Earthwatch group returned to the #forest #reserve near #Dinghu with our bag of rare ferrets. As tired as we were, releasing them was our first priority, SO in the twilight we once again worked our way UP the navigable stairs in the #river #canyon to the biggest w#aterfall. Dr. Lazell and the other biologists thought this a good “home” for the 3 rescues and so here with a small amount of ceremony, the burlap bag was opened and the ferrets were gone into the night. So were we – exhausted – and tomorrow = poachers + pangolins.
Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, October 4, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #48
CHINA #48: I don’t remember if I was too hungry, too tired, too hot, or too drunk NOT to take pictures in the restaurant in #SevenStarCragsPark, #Zhaoqing while our #Earthwatch group ate lunch. Especially when the bag full of ferrets we were rescuing would suddenly explode with wild noises and take off across the floor. Perhaps I was embarrassed, OR laughing too hard. Clearly we were foreign devils of some kind. In any case, no pics, and soon thereafter our escapades in Zhaoqing were over, as we needed to head back to the reserve to complete our work. Finally the ferrets would be free!
Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, September 27, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #47
CHINA #47: Just having fun with a bag full of ferrets in #China. Our pathway to a cooler lunch location was interesting to say the least. In the foreground are #StarLake and #SevenStarCragsPark, the city of #Zhaoqing is in the background, and the #Xi #river beyond. More pertinent to our quest for food, drink and a bit of a breeze, check out the group of white shirts in the lower left, then follow down to the right for the person in yellow. After that the stairs dive into the trees. Several “special” #grottos and outcrop viewpoints, lots of slippery, narrow pathways full of people, and then up the ridge to white shirts on other side and beyond. In the end, a lovely time was had by all; well, perhaps not the ferrets!
Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, September 20, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #46
CHINA #46: Ever had a moment when you suddenly understand something and then you see things in a completely different way? Seeking a hopeful lunch within #SevenStarCragsPark, #Zhaoqing, the #lakeside restaurants were hot and full, so our #Chinese colleague, Yang, suggested we go to another location where it would be #cooler and less #crowded. It was then I noticed the “Crags” part of the park title. Every #karst #spire had marginal #stairs cut into it in some way that, most assuredly took you to the “glorious #summit” and we were on our way with a bag of #ferrets.
Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, September 6, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #45
CHINA #45: There were small, actually quite crowded #restaurants at some significant “#lake #viewing” areas. This was one of the largest of them and it looked quite nice but it was VERY busy. Remember, we are 12 very soggy-looking (and smelly?) #foreign #devils with a bag full of fighting #ferrets. Our colleague, Yang Biao, assured us not to be concerned about these restaurants because since we were at lake-level, there was no breeze, and he thought we would enjoy lunch more and be cooler at one of the “other” locations. Whaaaaat!?!
Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, August 30, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #44
CHINA #44: After our adventures in the central @market, our #Earthwatch  group went to #SevenStarCragsPark in #Zhaoqing to have a #lunch break. Built around #StarLake, the park reflected many traditional #Chinese features: nicely planted causeways, numerous "viewing" #pavilions, and many restaurants... of course, there were also the limestone "#crags" which were the "#scenic" feature. The #heat and #steaming #rain were #stifling and any #breeze felt good, so even those with #umbrellas just gave up and got #wet because the umbrellas blocked what little #airflow there was. The three #ferrets in the bag were not too happy about any of this either. Not only were they constantly #fighting with each other, the wet #burlap was starting to #smell pretty strange; as I am sure all of us were as well.
Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, August 23, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #43
CHINA #43: It was nearing noon, VERY #hot and #humid, and starting to #rain harder. Having accomplished finding a person that would "guide" us to wild #pangolins, Dr. Lazell sensed the group was ready to leave the #Zhaoqing central #market and get some fresh air. Yang Biao, our #Chinese colleague, suggested we should have lunch at one of the restaurants in #SevenStarCragsPark - considered a local "#scenic" #park. It featured #StarLake surrounded by #limestone / #karst formations - #mountains with dramatically #steep faces and many #spires. There were also #bridges and "viewing" #pagodas which, as we would eventually learn, were elements common to all #Chinese parks. However, on this day in 1986, in this park... the sight-to-see apparently was not the rugged beauty of lake and limestone, but rather the small band of "white" #foreigners led by a strange bearded man holding a burlap bag from which angry noises and wild gyrations occasionally exploded. THE FERRETS WERE NOT HAPPY!!!
Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, August 16, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #42
CHINA #42: After watching the sale of "fresh" #meat, #fish and still-live products on the 2nd floor of the #Zhaoqing central #market for a while, Dr. Skip Lazell - the leader of our #Earthwatch group - finally befriended someone sufficiently to ask about "special" #animals that might be available - particularly #pangolins, "or anything that might be interesting". Without hesitating the man suggested we follow him, and he lead us to a doorway that was draped. I was asked not to take anymore #photographs, when he noted me taking the picture in this post of a juvenile #wildcat. We were all shocked to see the #rare #animals in this room. We did find some small #pangolins, and we WERE introduced to a #pangolin "#procurer" (#poacher) who agreed to "guide" our #research efforts. Dr. Lazell ALSO FOUND three rare #ferrets native to the #reserve in which we were working, so he #bought them for #release. Most #animals leaving the central market were #dead and didn't need #containment, BUT WE HAD THREE LIVE FERRETS AND THE ONLY THING TO CARRY THEM IN WAS A #BURLAP BAG!
Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, August 9, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #41
CHINA #41: In one of many interesting #shopping encounters on the 2nd floor of the #Zhaoqing central #market, a woman has purchased a #snake from a man that has a #bucket FULL of them. With no #refrigeration and wanting to insure the greatest "#freshness" of the product for his client, the salesman has #skinned the snake #alive for her so that it will remain fresh until she returns home and prepares it.
Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, August 2, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #40
CHINA #40: When our @Earthwatch group arrived at the 2nd floor of the #Zhaoqing central #market, there were some subtle gasps from the group. The #sights and #smells were pretty powerful. Some #meats and #fish were being prepared in "bulk" in front of potential buyers. Without #refrigeration of ANY kind, and #humidity and #temperatures QUITE high, these products had to be purchased and cooked as soon as possible. I found myself uncomfortable with the #sanitary conditions - or lack thereof - of the prep tables. Other buyers, especially the more cautious women, sought freshness by selecting from the stacks of #caged #live animals that were everywhere.
Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, July 26, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #39
CHINA #39: For some time our #Earthwatch group wandered around the 1st floor of the central #market in #Zhaoqing, watching and listening to the barter of goods. I was amazed at how many #fruits and #vegetables I had NEVER seen before. Ultimately, however, fearless leader, Dr. Skip Lazell, wanted us to move to the 2nd floor of the market because it was there the #meats were sold. Without #refrigeration, all #meat and #poultry was kept #alive until purchased assuring the customer of #freshness, and that meant #cages of live #animals would be stacked everywhere. Perhaps we would find a #pangolin; perhaps we would find a #poacher?
Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, July 19, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #38
CHINA #38: I was struck by the number of #Chinese who spoke some basic #English and wanted to talk with us to practice their speaking skills. Most told us they learned English by listening to the #radio. As aloof and shy as some of the Chinese in the #Zhaoqing #market were to our presence, others were aggressive, engaging, and often pretty funny. These two guys think our #Earthwatch group should buy a lot of their #peppers, and they are busy assuring us these are the best and the #hottest peppers in the market... oh yeah, and they cure about 50 #diseases including #cancer - well, at least that is the pitch, and one we will hear repeated throughout the day!
Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, July 12, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #37
CHINA #37: Our #Earthwatch group eventually arrived at a huge concrete structure that occupied a #city #block. Open-sided and with very little lighting, the central #market of #Zhaoqing was abuzz with #vendors and #buyers. NO purchase is ever made in #China without some barter and the mostly-women shoppers are vocal, quick to criticize quality, and always wary of #freshness as at this time in China, there was little-to-no #refrigeration available. Standing in the midst of this large space surrounded by people haggling loudly (in #Chinese), the sound echoed of the walls and the din was quite "unique".
Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, July 5, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #36
CHINA #36: As our #Earthwatch group wound its way through the streets of #Zhaoqing, we were following the flow of goods from the shores of the #Xi river into the central #market. One of the largest markets in the regional area, it was said to have "everything" - and in #China that means something. Our approach became increasingly congested with parked #bicycles and a profusion of lesser #vendors and smaller #farmers that could not secure themselves a space within the actual market square. (Note the '#Mao' #blues apparent in these last few shots.)
Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, June 28, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #35
CHINA #35: Eventually our #Earthwatch group and fearless leader Dr. Skip Lazell, followed the flow of commerce up from the banks of the #Xi #river and into the streets and markets of #Zhaoqing. It was a bustling world and pretty much devoid of #cars. It was also very #hot, #humid and #raining intermittently. Notice the preponderance of #blue jackets, these were #garments left from the #Mao era, when everyone wore similar clothes because Mao rejected #fashion as a status symbol.
Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, June 21, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #34
CHINA #34: At the #Zhaoqing #waterfront along the #Xi #river the offloading of goods from #boats was only part of the activity. Some local #farmers also dried their #harvest by spreading it out along the sloping #hillsides leading down to the river, and shorebound #merchants plied their wares to people on the boats. These women are selling a multi-purpose product - these #bamboo constructions can be used as #baskets to carry things, but they are also #fishtraps.
Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, June 14, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #33
CHINA #33: Where the #city of #Zhoaqing bordered the #Xi #river there was an explosion of activity. An endless stream of #boats of every conceivable size and description vied for an access point to the shore so they could offload their goods. Many #boatmen / families actually lived on their boats and had built or adapted them by hand. Some boats were owned by several #generations of the same family, and each owner-generation had embellished the boat in some particular way.
Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, June 7, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #32
CHINA #32: After a #hot, #rainy #train ride thru a maze of #farms and #villages, our #Earthwatch group and fearless leader, Dr. Skip Lazell, arrived at #Zhaoqing, the largest #city near the #mountain #reserve where our group was doing #research. Zhaoqing was considerably bigger than any of the #villages we had yet visited but it still seemed very #rural - there were few #cars, thousands of #bikes, many side streets were #unpaved, and the city literally abutted the #fields, #ponds and #duck #farms that supplied the bustling #market. For #China at this time, the market was also very #diverse because Zhaoqing was along the shore of the #Xi #river, a large, navigable #waterway which allowed #products to come in from more distant growing #regions and nearby #HongKong.
Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, May 31, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #31
CHINA #31: The #wet, #steep, #slippery #jungle / #forest #terrain was hard enough to #navigate in #daylight... at night with #headlamps, we were ridiculous. Worse, our subjects of search - #pangolins, #barkingdeer and #silver #pheasants - are not only #rare, and #nocturnal, they were also "shy creatures". Besides the many #reptiles and #amphibians we HAD seen, the good Dr. Lazell still wanted to establish some baseline work with these larger #animals we could NOT seem to be able to find, so he had an idea: we would all go to the nearest big #city, #Zhaoqing, by #train, where in the #market district he would try to contact #poachers supplying the market. The poachers knew how to find these animals so Skip wanted to put their skills to work for #science. Next week, join me in Zhaoqing!

Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, May 24, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #30
CHINA # 30: Our #Earthwatch group had yet to see any #barkingdeer, #silver #pheasant nor #pangolins, but for sure we had attracted every #insect in the #forest. Of course, the #insects were being pursued by swooping #bats out of nowhere flashing thru our #headlamp lights - are you listening #HunterSThompson? #Reptiles and #amphibians, however, WERE EVERYWHERE! Here our fearless leader Dr. Skip Lazell, dripping with #sweat and #rainfall, goes eye-to-eye with someone's recent "discovery."

Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, May 17, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #29
CHINA #29: However much it had #rained on us during our #walk through the lowland #villages, it rained 3 or 4 times as much back up in the #forest #reserve where we were working. It made the #trails #slippery, it brought the #rivers up, and #waterfalls appeared in new places. Our fearless leader, Dr. "Skip" Lazell also knew that with the fall of #darkness lots of the #reptiles and #amphibians we were there to "document" would be out and about, so we #Earthwatch volunteers would spend the next few days and nights thrashing around in this forest once again wearing #flip-flops and #headlamps, trying in vain to avoid the #leeches.

Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, May 10, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #28
CHINA #28: Winding our way thru #fields and #villages, our #Earthwatch group slowly returned to the #mountain / #forest #field #station where we were all working. As we drew near "home" the #rain increased and the #lush, #steep #canyons asserted themselves. In the quiet pace of our return, we were all reflecting on the day and I realized that the #visual #gift of the #journey was that I had been able to walk back in time.

Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, May 3, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #27
CHINA #27: Eventually our very enjoyable afternoon of tea and conversation at Yang's house ended and our #Earthwatch group had to begin our #journey through the surrounding #ponds and #villages to get back to the #field #biology #station in the #forest #reserve where we were working. This was not our only #adventure out, however....

Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, April 26, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #26
CHINA #26: As tea proceeded inside Yang's house, "the crew" kept careful watch over the activity from the doorway. The 300-lb #pregnant #pig lying in the central room was finally disturbed enough to struggle up and meander outside with a snort to which the children responded with a comment followed by hysterical laughter. When I asked Yang for a #translation, slightly embarrassed he said the children stated the pig left because the #foreigners smelled bad.

Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, April 19, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #25
CHINA #25: In a corner of the internal #courtyard, I saw a narrow #stair and followed it up, on to a small #terrace that afforded me further #views of the #village. It also reminded me our presence at Yang's house had aroused the residents' curiosity as evidenced by the smiling, giggling, but shy women watching me from "behind" the screen of leaves. .
Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, April 12, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #24
CHINA #24: As the "buzz" about our #Earthwatch group's arrival was spread thru the #village by our greeting party, the 10 of us ducked discreetly into the doorway of Yang's house. The house was spare, well-kept, and VERY #hot and #humid. It was also too dark to photograph without flash, so as his wife struggled to accommodate her numerous guests, I stepped over a very #pregnant, 300-lb #pig sleeping in the central room and headed out into the internal #courtyard where washing and some cooking were done.

Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, April 5, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #23
CHINA #23: When you see something you have never seen before and you want to know what it is, you ask someone older. Apparently whatever SHE said about our group was pretty funny as far as the kids were concerned, but it does not appear like she is exactly happy about our invasion of her #village. There were no #telephones but once this crew knew we were there, it was as though we had announced ourselves with #loudspeakers.

Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, March 29, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #22
CHINA #22: With only the quiet buzz of daily life in the background, most of us imagined we were passing through Yang's #village relatively unnoticed... until we met these guys. Although I am sure these kids had never heard #NeilYoung, his lyric line - "Look out Mama, there's a white boat coming up the river..." - is clearly expressed in these faces. "And the closer they got, the more those feelings grew..."

Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, March 22, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #21
CHINA #21: Now within his #village, Yang led our #Earthwatch group through a #labyrinth of #paths that would take us to his home for tea. Glimpses of life down "side-streets" and into open doorways revealed busy households where #children and #livestock ran amok. The #aroma of the #fields now intermingled with the #scent of #food being cooked for the mid-day meal, and the warm #rain persisted as the daily #humidity rose.
Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, March 15, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #20
CHINA #20: About 2-hours into our #walk, we reached the #village of our host, Yang Biao - note the #waterbuffalo and #calf peering at us from behind the #tree. As a photographer from Los Angeles, California, I am clearly transported back in time, and honored he would bring this cadre of #foreigners from #Earthwatch to his home. Without cell phones, however, he had not necessarily discussed this with his wife...

Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, March 8, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #19
CHINA #19: In the early 1980's in #China, times were tough and people were VERY #resourceful. #Duck and #goose #herders worked with #rice / #crop #farmers bringing the #birds through to #graze after #harvest. Bird poop #fertilized the next crop. #Water #hyacinth is an #invasive #species much of the world struggles to #exterminate. In China, #farmers grew hyacinth because it "drinks" #heavy #metals out of the water and stores them in its #roots. The water and crops remain less #toxic and the hyacinth can be processed to extract the #metals.
Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, March 1, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #18
CHINA #18: No #roads, no #cars, a few #bicycles, and an endless #maze of #ponds, #fields, and #brick #homes constructed mostly by hand. Everywhere there was quiet activity. Here a #farmer carries "night soil" to his crops for their #fertilization. (In the long run, a better system than the modern #chemistries being used now.)
Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, February 22, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #17
CHINA #17: Eventually the #mountains faded away, as did our #paths. Yang simply #navigated us through #field #rows and #pond #dikes of scattered small #farming #villages, occasionally saying hello to #neighbors he knew and answering their questions about the unusual entourage he was leading.
Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, February 15, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #16
CHINA #16: Progressively our #pathways through the rural #Chinese #countryside became smaller and smaller as we left the #mountains and followed our host, Yang Biao, venturing out into the #farms and #villages on the way to tea at his home. A warm, light #rain was falling as we wound ourselves through #backyards, #ponds, and #fields, catching glimpses of a daily life very different from ours.

Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, February 8, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #15
CHINA #15: Eventually our #journey left the #railroad #tracks and began to traverse the #countryside on raised #dikes that separated #farm #fields and #ponds. Occasionally we would run into surprisingly heavy #traffic - here a #goose-herder approaches us with his #flock. I am sure the #Chinese and #geese were all amused / amazed by their encounter with our #gaggle of "foreign devils".

Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, February 1, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #14
CHINA #14: Our #journey out of the #rainforest #reserve to have tea at Yang Biao's home / #village began by following the only available #roadway, the #railroad #tracks. In #rural #China in 1986, a #gaggle of #white #foreigners wandering around was amusing / terrifying enough, but with my Swedish, blond-haired, blue-eyed, first wife, Carey, running point guard on the group, the #Chinese #farmers were sure #aliens had landed.

Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, January 25, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #13
CHINA #13: Yang Biao was one of the #Chinese #biologists who worked in the #rainforest and he also spoke excellent #English so he served as our "host" and #interpreter. His home was walking distance from the #mountain reserve and he thought we would enjoy a #walk out of the #forest and into #rural #China so he invited us to have tea with his family in their nearby #village. Here Yang talks with an #Earthwatch volunteer before we head out into the #Chinese #countryside, circa 1986.

Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, January 18, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #12
CHINA #12: All work and no play? Well, when the weekend arrived, one of the #Chinese biologists from the #reserve offered to take us "out" - down, out of the #rainforest and into #rural #China. He lived close-by in the #village of #Dinghu and he invited us to have tea in his home with his family. Some walking was involved....

Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, January 11, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #11
CHINA #11: Did I mention counting #bats? Here we string #mist-netting. We are doing this in a #strategic #location; we have #lights and no #screens; every #insect in the #forest is feeding on us; the bats come to fed on them! Of course getting "netted" after drinking too much mao tai occasionally occurred to one or another #Earthwatch volunteer - who knew we would become so intimately involved with the #research?

Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, January 4, 2013
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #10
CHINA #10: How DO you count #reptile and #amphibian #population #densities? For #frogs, you go to a #pool at #twilight, position yourself, and wait (note the VERY hip #Chinese #biologist assisting us listening to his "new" #Walkman device). When you spot frogs, you must catch them, mark them, and then release them, only to begin chasing another. This goes on in the dark as well, using #headlamps. Hey, it's #Earthwatch!

Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, December 30, 2012
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #9
CHINA #9: #Barkingdeer, #silver #pheasant, maybe! But what is a #Pangolin you may ask? Herewith, Dr. Skip Lazell's associate, Numi Goodyear, holds one she has just radio-collared. Pangolin are #armor-plated, #nocturnal #dinosaurs with nasty #claws, but shy personalities. Later, up in the mountain ejungle somewhere, we will all be running around in the dark with tracking #antennae trying to follow this one on its nightly #forage.
Photograph © 2012 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, December 21, 2012

China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #8
CHINA #8: The view FROM the #monastery? Well,..that was our new reality. Out there were #barkingdeer, #silver #pheasants, #pangolins, #exotic #bats and a whole lot of #reptiles and #amphibians. Our #Earthwatch mission was to "#document their numbers". If #heat, #rain, #insects, #leeches and #steep #forested #terrain were not enough, most of these #species we chased were #nocturnal. Try this with #flashlights and #headlamps!

Photograph © 2012 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, December 14, 2012

China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #7
CHINA #7: If you followed the #path of #monastic #graffiti UP through the #rainforest, across the #pools and around #waterfalls, eventually you were greeted at the #summit with TWO views to ponder: 1st, the #historic #monastery and its #gardens. The other view was something else entirely...

Photograph © 2012 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, December 7, 2012

China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #6
CHINA #6: Other #paths in this #rainforest were easier to follow and more well-worn. This one leads to a #monastery near the #summit and the #inscriptions on the #rocks have been written / carved by visiting #monks and #scholars over #centuries of time.

Photograph © 2012 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, November 30, 2012

China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #5
CHINA #5: As this #mountain #rainforest had seen more than 5,000-years of #human #visitation, #jungle #trails existed but thanks to #generations of #industrious #Chinese many had been replaced by #stone #paths and #stairs. Remote paths were sometimes sketchy-frequently they had to be searched out under leaf debris, and they were always #wet and #slippery -- but they were a better choice then bushwacking.

Photograph © 2012 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, November 23, 2012
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980’s #4
CHINA #4: 90's+, 100% #humidity, torrential #rain, #steep walls covered with #dense #forests, #slimy leaf #debris, AND life teeming everywhere (especially #leeches in your clothing). The leader of our #Earthwatch trip was Dr. James "Skip" Lazell whose resume sported TWO #Ph.D.'s, many #books, and affiliation with #Yale #Peabody #Museum of #Natural #History, ...BUT the t-shirt says it all. This guy was amazing and FUN / FUNNY! Hail to our fearless leader!

Photograph © 2012 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, November 16, 2012
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980's #3
CHINA #3: Entering #China in the mid-1980's as part of an #Earthwatch trip to the southern #rainforests allowed me to witness #rural #China before #modernization. #Tourist #hotels were only starting to rise in the larger #cities, in the #country it was VERY different. In a #biology #field #station in a #rainforest, well, ...welcome to home-sweet-home.

Photograph © 2012 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, November 9, 2012
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980's #2
CHINA #2: In 1983 I became part of the #UCLA-China #Exchange #Program and for 2-years they wrote letters seeking introductions for me, finding me a host, and acquiring my permission to #travel to #China. Even so, at that time in China you could only enter as part of a #tour #group and none were visiting my destination, #Suzhou. SO, I joined an #Earthwatch trip doing research in the #rainforests of south China in order to enter the #country.

Photograph © 2012 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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Friday, November 2, 2012
China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980's #1
CHINA #1: Going forward, I'm using this #blog as an #autobiography. In 1983, I began translating my #photographic #images into #textiles in #China. This is one of three stories currently unfolding online, please follow them - the others are The Hudson River and PEBBLE MINE: Pictures from Ground Zero.

Photograph © 2013 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #China @Earthwatch_org

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China - First Glimpses, Mid-1980's by Robert Glenn Ketchum

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