Stories from the Field
July 15, 2017
Arriving early on Saturday morning, the Mogao information center showed us a documentary and gave a virtual tour of the caves. Dunhuang, where we are staying, was once an oasis town that was part of the Silk Road. Roughly 30 minutes away by bus, the Mogao grottoes consist of 735 individual caves. We got to see eight of them, each from a different era, unique in their own way.
Our guide introduced himself as Michael and warned us that no photos were allowed to be taken inside the caves and that each had a time limit, so that we did not oxidize the paint even further.
The things that we enjoyed the most were the little details that Michael pointed out to us. He answered all of our questions about Buddhism, and explained how some caves have up to seven layers of decorated wall with colors that have changed throughout the ages. His stories were filled with interesting facts, giving not only his own opinions, but also those of the government and different historians.
Check out some of our photos from the caves!
Having a Blast in the Desert!
July 11, 2017
We are having a blast in the desert!
Robbie Shone, our National Geographic Expert, has joined us in Dunhuang and has been engaged in photo critique, interviews, and adding his own positive vibe to the group dynamic.
Dunhuang has been dry and hot, yet we have been enjoying the activities, culture, and scenery. Yesterday we camped out in the dunes above town and did a lot of activities. We watched the sun set and moon rise, rode camels, and did night photography.
Check out some photos from our adventures in the desert!
Exploring Tangiahe National Reserve
July 7, 2017
The Nat Geo China Expedition group is acclimating to the zip and buzz of Shanghai! We have started to break into our on-assignment groups in anthropology and photography.
With our leader, Colleen, the anthropology group visited Fuxing Park where the students interviewed local kite flyers and explored the shops and alleys of the Tianzifang Art District.
The photo group went to the Yu Yuan Market and Gardens to start taking portraits and To the Shanghai World Financial Center tower for sweeping views of the city.
On our next adventure, we encountered some…interesting weather in Tangiahe National Reserve! The water came down, drumming on the leaves and flooding roads. We persisted despite this minor setback and got to hike in the forests that house some of the last wild pandas. We got to meet bee keepers, went on a night hike looking for wild animals, and learned about flora and fauna from the park superintendent.
Panda-monium in Dujiangyan
July 6, 2017
After our long journey, we finally made it to Sichuan Province! In the early morning, we drove into the mountains and arrived at the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda in Wolong. The weather was a pleasant change from Shanghai due to the drop in temperature and increase in wind. We were welcomed by the adventurous and exotic squat toilets that every student was enthralled to use. Then we suited up in our chunky, blue jumpsuits to meet the pandas.
Our first task was to assist in maintaining the cleanliness of the enclosures—specifically we picked up the bamboo and the “bampoo.” In our downtime, we were able to witness the cuteness of the nine-month-old pandas play king of the hill on their favorite tree.
From there, we watched a documentary about the conservation efforts for pandas and their goal to reintroduce pandas into the wild. After the 2008 earthquake, the area was severely impacted, which allowed the government to relocate farmers, turning the land back into a habitat for wild pandas. The center was rebuilt and new research was conducted on the best way to breed pandas and train them for the wild. Five out of the six pandas released into wild are thriving outside of the center. All of us are hopeful that the research center will continue to see much success in repopulating the wild pandas.
Our Adventure Begins in Shanghai
June 28, 2016
Welcome to the most populous city in the world! For the next couple of days we’ll be exploring all Shanghai has to offer: golden Buddhist temples, several of the world’s tallest buildings, tree-lined alleyways of the French Concession, and the wonderful cuisine of Shanghai, including soup dumplings!
The Edge of the Gobi
July 11, 2016
We’ve arrived in Dunhuang, the gateway to the Gobi Desert, and it feels like a fusion of America’s Wild West and China put together. Two thousand years ago Dunhuang was the border town between nomadic tribes and a recently unified China. Now it is a small, yet bustling town with history and night markets.
July 1, 2016
We’ve arrived in Sichuan Province! The views are gorgeous in Wolong, the location of the giant panda reserve.
China: From The Great Wall to Pandas
July 10, 2014
Students on our China expedition have been busy- traveling from Beijing, to the Great Wall, to the Wolong Panda Reserve. Below are some highlights, in the students words: