WildChina is excited to welcome back our 2012 WildChina Explorer Grant Winner Shanghua Zhang! He has just returned from an epic venture to Ganzi Prefecture in Sichuan Province, a place with no roads, no cars and very few people. He wanted to experience some of the wildest parts of China, and for him, Ganzi Prefecture was the perfect location. Along his journey through this “primitive natural beauty and the most authentic religious atmosphere”, Zhang spent time in the Chaqingsongduo Nature Reserve which houses two-thirds of the world’s population of white-lipped deer or Thorold’s deer, the second largest glacier in the prefecture, and the peak of the mighty Mount Gongga.
Luckily, for the most part, Zhang’s journey ran smoothly as there were hardly any changes made to his itinerary. Although various ecological reasons have negatively affected this natural beauty, Zhang still felt as though it had not completely lost all of its charm. The Extension Pull Lake was not the only thing Zhang fell in love with on his journey. When I asked him about the local folk, Zhang’s face brightened up and he could not stop raving about their hospitality and honest nature: “Several times, when I needed lodging in their homes while en route, the villagers did not ask me for money and always made me feel at home.”
The most interesting thing Zhang found about the local folk? “I was thoroughly impressed by the popularity of the locally brewed beer which I had always considered to be extremely difficult to drink. Such a strange phenomenon!” Because the local Lama only have a limited selection of alcoholic beverages from which they can drink, the ordinary people see which beverages the Lama choose and follow suit in also deciding to drink it, regardless of its taste.
Although one of the initial objectives of his journey was to first-handedly see the white-lipped deer, Zhang and his crew were only able to view the remains of the endangered species in the home of a Lama. Intrigued by these remains alone, Zhang hopes to return to the Chaqingsongduo Nature Reserve in hopes of seeing the beautiful creature with his own eyes, determined to help in furthering the protection of these rare beauties.
What was his favorite memorabilia? As an avid collector of well-crafted knives uniquely created by various minority groups, Zhang could not pass up the opportunity to add to his constantly growing collection while visiting local villages on his adventure:”What jewelry is for women is what knives are for men!”
Interested in applying for the WildChina Explorer Grant? Click here for more information!