CERS regularly launches expeditions into the most remote parts of China and at times border regions of neighboring countries.
Most recently in 2011, CERS successfully launched an expedition to define the source of the Salween River, an important water system that began in northern Tibet and flowed through southwest China into Myanmar and Thailand before entering the sea. Later the same summer, a large CERS team entered the Arjin Mountain Nature Reserve and arrived at the Tibetan Antelope calving ground at an elevation of over 5000 meters to continue their long-term study of the Tibetan Antelope. Separately, a CERS team conducted new caving exploration in Yunnan, filming with CCTV a new blind fish species which the team has discovered on previous expedition.
INTO THE GOBI DESERT DURING DEEP WINTER
Wong How Man
Deng Kou, Inner Mongolia - 24 January 2010
On one end of the wire hang two wolf skins. On the other end are three pelts, of a leopard and two tigers. Next to the tigers, however, is the most horrifying scene, two skinned humans with their heads hanging low. Thankfully, these are only paintings on murals inside a temple. Sadly, it reflects how brutal penal codes were during the rein of the Mongols, when humans were treated like the animals they preyed upon.
Somehow these images brought back memories of the marauding Mongols who terrorised people from Asia to Europe in the Middle Ages. Perhaps one indicator of the Mongol rule could still be seen in the name of the two places we were now situated at. To our left is Alasan Right Banner, to our right is Alasan Left Banner - defying anyone with the most basic knowledge in geography. But if we were to put ourselves in the shoes of a Mongol ruler looking south from his Steppe heartland, then the place names suddenly make perfect sense. What is to the left becomes right, and vice versa.
A LAND WHERE TIME STOOD STILL
Wong How Man
Mrauk-u, Arakan State, Myanmar – 01 January 2010
Yesterday’s sunset was perfect, the last one for the year 2009, and the last one for the first decade of the 21st century. The sun disappeared under the tropical plain at 7:45pm local time. At the same time, the moon had already risen in the east, almost at a 10-degree angle to the horizon. It was a perfect moonrise, as it was a full moon. It was also a perfect moment for me, appreciating a sunset while enjoying a moonrise.
Today, the first sunrise for a new year and a new decade must also be special. That is why I came to this distant land, that promises to be a very special place. Maybe I am a romantic. But my romance is with the land and the people, and everything that dwells under the sun and the moon.
My wake-up call came at 5 am. The Mrauk Oo Princess Resort is owned by Ohn Maung, my Burmese friend who also owns the Inle Princess Resort. An open Jeep was already waiting. In the chill morning air, we drove for 15 minutes to a nearby monastery. Along the way, everything was still dark, except a few fires ignited along the street to keep the early risers warm. A handful of eatery stalls were already open, barely lit by candles or oil lamps. An occasional rooster call was the only other sound besides our Jeep’s coughing engine.