2 Mt Kinabalu summit sunriseThe years teach much which the days never know. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson



dsc_3686-sm2Yangon, Myanmar

wasdA young ethnic Wa Buddhist monk looks out the window of a large wooden temple constructed on stilts over a dusty, earthen square in the center of a small, rural village outside Pangkham, the capital of the Wa Self-Administered Division (Special Region 2 / Wa State).

dsc02916-y-sm1A young girl selling cucumbers roadside on the main thoroughfare outside Pangkham. Poverty is severe in the Wa Self-Administered Division (Wa State) with children often receiving no education at all. Families further suffer from a lack of food security and have little or no access to credit or income.


A clouded leopard, a vulnerable species on the IUCN Red List, is slaughtered for parts at the Mongla market.

A clouded leopard, a vulnerable species on the IUCN Red List, is slaughtered for parts at the Mongla market.

1-shangrila-2What life can compare with this? – The leaves fall, the flowers bloom, and the seasons come and go. ~ Seccho

Shangrila, Yunnan

Qiunatong, where the NYT article below is based, is the village I wrote my MA thesis on (https://www.academia.edu/7405929/The_Role_of_Tourism_as_a_Strategy_for_Rural_Community_Development_Evidence_from_Yunnan_Province_China). Qiunatong is a small village in the heart of the Nujiang Gorge in NW Yunnan just south of the Tibetan border. It is an area of immense natural beauty and immeasurable value to the ecosystem with steep snow covered forested peaks plummeting into deep turquoise green waters. While villagers in Qiunatong could have profited from tourism development, already then they worried about insecure tenure rights and having their land appropriated by the government. As my thesis concludes then, “more research should be conducted on the tensions between tourism development versus natural resource exploitation under Western Development Strategy in Yunnan and especially Nujiang, where potential hydropower development plays a critical role, and which may turn out to shape development more comprehensively and quickly than tourism.”

dsc_2453-y-smI went out early this morning to do what i love best – turn circles; watch people, take pictures, and absorb the sites, smells, sounds, and tastes of my surrounds. Yangon is a bustling city set against a colorful backdrop of beautiful but decaying colonial era architecture. Perhaps what touches me most about the city though is local’s friendliness and warm smiles, and the garlands of wheat they hang everywhere alongside buildings and outside windows for sparrows to feed on. In the face of rampant change, I hope that these and other everyday values and customs like Burmese-style make-up, dress, and food will prevail. For me, they are an indelible part of the character and life in Yangon.

DSC_2361 4And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been.

Nun wollen wir das neue Jahr begrüßen. Voll von Dingen, die nie gewesen.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke