LAST OF THE PI YAO MINORITY PEOPLE
Wong How Man
“Please, please join us for lunch. We are cooking anyway,” said Tang Mai De San, the 32 years old son-in-law of the family. I declined his truly warm hospitality as it was not just me, but seven of us in my team, and it would add undue work to their family’s very last day at this ancient house.
Tang had just arrived by motorcycle at this now remote hamlet. And the road, it was only completed less than ten years ago. Soon it would be abandoned and lay to waste. Likewise electricity arrived last year, and after today there would be no need for it anymore.
SINGING THE OCEAN BLUES
Musings on fish and commitment while floating in the Sulu Sea
William Bleisch, PhD
Palawan, The Philippines
Back on the boat, I found myself spontaneously bursting into song, singing all the sea shanties I could remember at the top of my voice.
My father was a fisherman all of his life;
And he courted a mermaid one fine night;
And out of this union, there came three;
A porgy and a sea horse, and then there’s me!
We were on the island of Palawan, the southwestern frontier of the Philippines. For our first explorations, we had come to El Nido on the northern tip of the island, traveling by car instead of boat, a change plans at the last minute when it became clear that our new CERS research vessel, the HM Explorer 2, would take months to register. Without our own boat, we were constrained to join one of the tourist circuits. “Today you are doing tours A and C,” declared the tour guide, before he quickly rattled off the names of our destinations. He was obviously all too-familiar after many repeated trips. The beaches and near shore were crowded with visitors, mostly young Filipinos from the city, together with a few trendy young European and Asian tourists.
BLUE SKY, WHITE PEAKS AND GREEN HILLS
And audience with Her Majesty the Royal Grandmother of Bhutan
Wong How Man
“That is a very auspicious sign,” said Lama Neten with a sliver of smile, finally. It seemed at last we had broken the ice as he looked very serious and solemn when I first met him the night before, at a home down the hill.
Though only 49 years of age, his demeanor was like that of an old teacher. After all, he is the abbot of a monastery with 120 monks, most of them boys. And they reside in this monumental castle of Gasa Dzong, the seat of one of the twenty Dzongkhags (Districts) of Bhutan and the northernmost, largest and highest of all the Districts. Below him, but above him in elevation, he controls another twenty smaller sub-monasteries, most sitting at dizzying height of the plateau bordering Tibet.
William Bleisch, PhD
on the trail below Api Himal
The third avalanche stopped us, but it was the fourth avalanche that convinced us all that we had been right to turn back.
I am in the Api Nampa Conservation Area in western Nepal again, back to try to retrieve the camera traps that we set high up near the source of the Chemaliya River last October, just below the cliffs of Api peak itself. We need to retrieve the traps to see what wildlife they have caught and also to bring them down the mountain before thousands of caterpillar fungus collectors enter the protected area later in the month. Unfortunately, a bit of freak weather has left several feet of snow accumulated in the upper reaches of the valley.