The Royal Geographical Society - Hong Kong

“Exploring Burma's Geography and Nature”
Wong How Man and Dr William Bleisch

Thursday, 07 June 2012
The American Club Hong Kong, 48/F, Two Exchange Square, Central
Drinks Reception 6.30 pm; Lecture 7.30 pm

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We are delighted to welcome again Wong How Man, China's greatest explorer and one of our most popular lecturers, to speak on this occasion on his expeditions to Burma: "Exploring Burma's Geography and Nature", presenting a fascinating talk on the past and future state of exploration of the country.

Some ten years ago, Wong How Man took a short and stealthy exploration trip into Burma through "the backdoor" border of China's southwest Yunnan Province. He visited a distant Lisu village with its make-shift church. Mr Wong turned back shortly after seeing teenagers from the independent Kachin army waving their AK-47s at his party. This initial attempt led to a dozen more expeditions through the "front door" of Rangoon and Mandalay.

Over the last decade, Mr Wong has made several boat journeys in Burma through the upper Irrawaddy, the deep south Mergui Islands, and Sittwe and Mrauk-O near Bangladesh. In this lecture, he describes some unique moments and findings from his many expeditions. This includes his most recent expedition following the mighty Salween, the longest free-flowing river in the world, from its arrival in Burma from the Tibetan plateau to its mouth at Moulmein.

Following Mr Wong's talk, Dr William Bleisch is going to comment on the history of scientific exploration of Burma. He also describes the huge potential, but also possible dangers, now facing the country's unique wildlife after 50 years of isolation. Dr. Bleisch gives an overview of the history of exploration in Burma. Considered a jewel of the Indian crown during colonial times, most of the research on Burma was done over 50 years ago and written about in the poetic style of the time. In particular, there are the accounts of the early explorers Frank Kingdon-Ward and Lt. Colonel Frederick Bailey, CIE, both Fellows of the RGS and awardees of the Society's coveted Gold Medal, who made upper Burma their botanical and game hunting grounds a century ago. Their pioneering discoveries set the standard for future explorers in the foothills of the Himalayas. Jumping to the present, CERS's own research is attempting to take forward where those original explorers left off.

As always with Mr. Wong's lectures, this lecture is illustrated with stunning photography and also a short film.

Hailing from California, USA, Wong How Man is Chairman of the China Research & Exploration Society. Being "China's most accomplished explorer", Time Magazine has honoured Mr Wong as one of their 25 Asian Heroes. In a career spanning thirty years of exploration in remote China together with neighbouring countries, Wong How Man is a veteran at the National Geographic, having led six major expeditions for the magazine. In 1986, he founded the China Exploration & Research Society, which expanded his exploration work to conservation of China's natural and cultural heritage. He has authored 15 books and innumerable articles, and his work has been featured often on CNN, National Geographic Channel and many other media.

American biologist and naturalist Dr William Bleisch has worked for 25 years for the China Research & Exploration Society in field research and conservation and is one of Asia's best-known conservationists.

Members of the RGS and others are most welcome to attend this event, which is HK$150 for Members and HK$200 for guests and others.

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