It is currently October 24th, 2014, 2:18 am

All times are UTC - 8 hours




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 15 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Spring Festival 2012
PostPosted: January 28th, 2012, 8:05 pm 
User avatar

Joined: February 6th, 2011, 9:09 pm
Posts: 464
Location: Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China
For my 2011 Annual Report click here: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=9639

Well, just got back from a two week "vacation", visiting my wife's family about five hours away in the mountains. When I first went there in 2005 they had just built the first roads leading there and it took over eight hours. It was a hold onto your seat for dear life whilst packed into the bus like sardines kind of ride. One time an old woman looked out of the window and was decapitated by a tree branch (not when I was there). This time it was tame and uneventful.

We arrived in Xincheng County a week before Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) and walked around a bit. I like the feel of this town, but wish it was closer to a large nature reserve.
Image
The main square.
Image
The view from my sister-in-law's apartment is beautiful on all sides.

Next we headed to her parent's house in a village about forty minutes away. It used to take over an hour and a half, but the road was widened.
Image
Behind their village there is a fragment of karst rainforest left on the mountain slopes. This type of ecosystem is critically endangered. When my wife's grandmother was young tigers used to come down from there around dusk and eat people. Sadly, they are gone now.. :cry:

I decided that this year I would finally make it to the top. Previous times I was always stopped for reasons beyond my control. I chose a path behind the village primary school and distracted some people playing basketball before I ascended:
Image

It took hours for me to finally get up there. The reason is because the vegetation you see in this photo was 90% thorns.
Image
It shredded up a nice-ish coat I brought back to China with me.. :? I did finally get up there, though by then it was dark. The avifauna was diverse and I really wished that I had that new Panasonic FZ150 I have been wanting to purchase.

Image
This lucky cat didn't apear to be on the menu.

Although the weather wasn't very conductive to herping I did manage to find the first snake of the year!
Image
Xenochrophis piscator (If I'm correct this will be the first snake I've identified to the species level in the field in China!)

Unfortunately, things were not looking good for this serpent.
Image
It was perhaps five degrees C and windy that day and it didn't even stir.

It's tongue tasted the air a bit, but it could barely move. I put the snake under a bale of hay and prayed for its survival. The next day I returned to find it had not made it through the frigid, rainy night. It was perhaps fifteen degrees and sunny. If it had just held on a little longer.. It looks like it was about to shed it's skin and got caught in the cold. I hope that I didn't kill it by disturbing and moving it. It just seemed to be out in the open at the wrong time. I feel sad that I was not ablew to experience their famed feisty disposition. :cry:

The theme of death continued and the next day when we went to my sister-in-law's new husband's hometown further in the mountains three goats were slain in our honour.
Image
Yes, he is indeed using a blowtorch to roast it.

They thought it would be a real treat for me to go out and watch them slit their throats and drain them of blood whilst they were still alive and frantically spasming. :o

I went for a walk after the started on the second one and was immediately apprehended by a young soldier:
Image
After a brief interrogation I was free to go.

Finally, before we left the area it was time for one more bowl of the best Mifen (rice noodles) anywhere:
Image
For 4元人民币 (less than half Euro) you get a large bowl of noodles with a hefty portion of good meat in it. Simply divine.. :thumb:

Winter is a frustrating time here. The vegetation is still quite lush compared to colder climes, but beyond birds there is little wildlife. I can't wait to get back to that rainforest in the summer!


Last edited by MaartenSFS on April 30th, 2012, 2:56 am, edited 2 times in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Spring Festival 2012
PostPosted: January 28th, 2012, 8:07 pm 
User avatar

Joined: February 6th, 2011, 9:09 pm
Posts: 464
Location: Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China
Also, you'll have to tell me if you can see the images, as Photo Bucket has been acting up. I can log in and upload photos, but can't view them somehow.. :x


Last edited by MaartenSFS on January 28th, 2012, 9:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Spring Festival 2012
PostPosted: January 28th, 2012, 8:44 pm 
User avatar

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 2:00 pm
Posts: 504
Location: Huntsville, AL
Nice job! Yep, you got the ID right. Good thing it was so cold, otherwise he would have bitten the sh't out of you.... Repeatedly. And yes, all the pics came thru


Top
 Profile WWW 
 
 Post subject: Re: Spring Festival 2012
PostPosted: January 28th, 2012, 8:51 pm 

Joined: July 2nd, 2010, 5:48 pm
Posts: 605
Location: AZ.
Your photos are fine...and seeing the life in town as well as the natural history events is interesting. Do you see reptiles being sold/consumed in the market places? I often hear the various Asian cultures utilize reptiles (i.e. Chelonians) and wildlife in ways we westerners are unfamiliar... How do the citizens/neighbors react to your interest in reptiles? Many here think my interest is curious and eccentric, is it the same with you over there? Thanks for posting, much of this is new to me. The karst landscape is really something I would love to see. Are there caves and gullies as well as hills?

Vic


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Spring Festival 2012
PostPosted: January 28th, 2012, 8:51 pm 

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 12:37 pm
Posts: 1207
Location: Ft. Smith, Arkansas
Pics are showin' up fine, man. One of the years I'll make it to Asia for the food just as much as the herping.


Top
 Profile WWW 
 
 Post subject: Re: Spring Festival 2012
PostPosted: January 28th, 2012, 9:45 pm 
User avatar

Joined: February 6th, 2011, 9:09 pm
Posts: 464
Location: Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China
I don't know, Kevin.. I'd have taken the bites over it's death. It's always fun when they put up a fight. :twisted: As long as it's a harmless species. Really glad I got the ID right. I knew it as soon as I spotted it, despite the discolouration.

These are the photos I managed to take. I need the 600mm zoom of the camera I want for all the shots I found (That's right, they are always there, you just have to take them). I haven't been to the market in this village. Certainly, herps are often sold at markets in China. Most times they are farm-raised, but sometimes wild. In the summer Kevin and I found a man near a nature reserve selling Deinagkistrodon acutus, Elaphe carinata, etc. He'll remember the species better than me.

At another area I saw Python molurus and Naja atra, amongst others, being sold, though I'm not sure if they were wild caught. I've also seen an old woman trying to sell a songbird she somehow caught. I wanted to kick her in the face.

People here think I'm blooming insane, her family included. Which is why I didn't tell them that I found a snake. ;) It is estimated that 50% of the world's caves are in China. I did a lot of caving in 2007/2008, but can't find anyone to go with me now and haven't bought the gear. Check out my first post (scroll down on the main forum page, probably page 2) for several cave photos. Herping is cheaper, safer, and I can go alone (though if you never hear back from me one of these days I was probably envenomated in some remote location).

The food here is quite amazing and mostly healthy. If they could just stop consuming the wildlife or using it in "medicine" I'd be a happy camper.

Edit: Photobucket appears to be working again, thankfully.. :thumb:


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Spring Festival 2012
PostPosted: January 29th, 2012, 12:21 pm 
User avatar

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 2:00 pm
Posts: 504
Location: Huntsville, AL
MaartenSFS wrote:
I don't know, Kevin.. I'd have taken the bites over it's death.


Ah, I read over the death part.... yeah, of course we'd all rather take plenty of bites over a death... I just read the 5 C and figured it was near death/ too cold to move. I was also reading the post on my phone, so it was kinda hard to read.

Nice pics, hopefully things will warm up soon, and hopefully I will hear about the grant soon. I will let you know as soon as possible. People on Hainan are already excited about hosting me. They said they would get me in to all the nature reserves. Once things are official, I will need to talk to them about getting permission for all the help I will have with me.


Top
 Profile WWW 
 
 Post subject: Re: Spring Festival 2012
PostPosted: January 29th, 2012, 2:36 pm 
User avatar

Joined: February 6th, 2011, 9:09 pm
Posts: 464
Location: Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China
No worries. What do you think caused its death? It looks like it was about to shed, no? Or was it ill?

Sounds like you will have a welcoming commity in Hainan! If Hainan doesn't work out (but it will!), do you have a third choice?

I recommend Hongkong, although that may be tricky? If that doesn't work out, you should come to Guilin. I know some Americans that run a school where you could stay possibly for free or dirt cheap near my house (as my guest room will be occupied by my mother-in-law coming for the birth of the baby) and Guilin should have some universities that could host your study.

If not, Nanning definitely would. It's not that far to Damingshan, Xidamingshan, and Shiwandashan from Nanning. Nonggang isn't all that far away either. I think that you would be more likely to find your target species here than in Sichuan, unless you have exact sites where they are known to be found there.

If the permissions don't work out and you have time in August (after the baby is born) we should do a trip somewhere in Guangxi or to southern Yunnan (if I can secure funding). Whatever happens, it's going to be a good year.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Spring Festival 2012
PostPosted: January 29th, 2012, 6:11 pm 
Great photos - looks like an interesting place to herp and eat.

Quote:
Finally, before we left the area it was time for one more bowl of the best Mifen (rice noodles) anywhere:For 4元人民币 (less than half Euro) you get a large bowl of noodles with a hefty portion of good meat in it. Simply divine.. :thumb:
You sure that "hefty portion" wasn't from the blowtorch guy? ;)


Top
  
 
 Post subject: Re: Spring Festival 2012
PostPosted: January 29th, 2012, 8:16 pm 
User avatar

Joined: February 6th, 2011, 9:09 pm
Posts: 464
Location: Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China
Ha. No, we had that goat meat as well. It was fine, but I'd rather have duck, chicken, beef, or pork. It's a tie with fish. :P


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Spring Festival 2012
PostPosted: January 31st, 2012, 4:50 am 
User avatar

Joined: February 6th, 2011, 9:09 pm
Posts: 464
Location: Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China
I finally decided to contact Photobucket support services and with their kind help have resolved the Photobucket (and several other websites so far) issue. I downloaded Mozilla Firefox and disabled most add-ons and images are now loading without a hitch (and there seems to be more room on the page to see the photos nice and big). Hope this helps anyone else living in China or elsewhere. :)


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Spring Festival 2012
PostPosted: January 31st, 2012, 8:24 am 
User avatar

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 2:00 pm
Posts: 504
Location: Huntsville, AL
nice, see if the Flickr shots are still not showing up


Top
 Profile WWW 
 
 Post subject: Re: Spring Festival 2012
PostPosted: January 31st, 2012, 5:12 pm 
User avatar

Joined: February 6th, 2011, 9:09 pm
Posts: 464
Location: Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China
A, I forgot to mention that 50% of Flickr images were still not showing up. I checked that after I checked mine. ;)

This morning my Photobucket images won't show up again, though the ones on Hans' post do.. What a mess.. :x


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Spring Festival 2012
PostPosted: February 1st, 2012, 8:57 am 
User avatar

Joined: June 9th, 2010, 6:17 am
Posts: 350
Great post, Maarten! I like:

- How you got down low for the basketball angle
- The humour with the boy soldier
- The flowers! Here in Calgary, our "spring festival" takes place in the middle of winter, and the only flowers we see are in Buddhist temples. They would die in seconds if taken outside :( Well, 51°N vs 20°N ... what do I expect?
- The caving references. I have caving gear, and I might stop by one of these years for a caving/herping trip.

Thanks again for posting!

Warren


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Spring Festival 2012
PostPosted: February 5th, 2012, 10:59 pm 
User avatar

Joined: February 6th, 2011, 9:09 pm
Posts: 464
Location: Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China
Thanks for your comment, Warren. For the basketball I told one of my wife's cousins (the one making a face on the left) to slam dunk the ball (or at least look cool making a basket) and was waiting underneath, but nothing happened and my battery was empty.. :? Then the game was over anyways.

That boy soldier photo could have been so much more, but my wife insisted I leave the boy be (he was having a ball).. I think we were both looking for a distraction from the goat slayings.

Don't worry about your winters.. It usually never gets below freezing here, but there is no heating, so the temperatures outside and inside are the same.. :cry: Thankfully winters last for no more than four months of non-herpable weather with only two months of unbearable cold before the monsoon rains of the spring start. Also, you must have amazing views of the rockies from your city??

You are definitely welcome to come caving or herping any time. I can put you up if I have a spare room at the time, but our first child will be born around July. The only expensive thing is getting here anyways. I recommend September or October for herps and caving and late April to early June for just herping (rain + caves = death). I haven't been caving since I've been back, partly because I've been spending more time in the rainforest areas and not the karst areas. Didn't stop me from finding a new cave, though I don't have the gear or company to investigate these days. Just got a new Panasonic FZ150 so herps and photos are my priority this year. Should have pictures up as soon as the sun comes out. ;)


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 15 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 8 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot], Google [Bot], Matt McCarthy and 12 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Search for:
Jump to: