“For Buryats Lake Baikal is a sacred and holy place. Historically, Baikal has given people food, fish, water, and there are many legends about Baikal,” says Masha Bambuyeva, a Buryat native of the north Baikal town of Severobaikalsk in Siberia, Russia.
While travelling in Siberia and reporting on the area surrounding the world’s deepest, oldest, and most voluminous fresh water lake in the world, I have heard as many tales of Baikal myths as I have witnessed breathtaking landscapes.
“I wanted to do something for Baikal, for infrastructure, for ecology, and this was a chance,” says Irkutsk native and local entrepreneur, Sergei Redkin, as he explains his reasons for volunteering with the Great Baikal Trail (GBT).
GBT is an organization whose name may seem evident at first glance. It is a trail-building establishment near Lake Baikal in Russia’s Siberia. In addition to trail building and maintenance of pre-existing paths, the group also promotes ecological education in the region.
“Turkish people don’t go east, but we go west. We have no problem. We open business. We can go anywhere, but the Turks don’t come to the south-east,” says Hazhir, the name I have given my Kurdish host to protect his identity.
As China’s economy grows, the environmental problems faced by the country keep pace. Between coal mining, water scarcity, and air pollution, public awareness of environmental issues and desire for a cleaner, healthier world have become more and more amplified. However, the growing middle class is dependent on an expanding economy, one which requires energy to keep the machine running. China has met its energy demand by consuming more fossil fuels, further increasing carbon emissions.
When environmentalists talk about carbon, they are usually referring to how fossil fuel consumption causes climate change. The problem with using “energy” when discussing environmental issues is illustrated by the latest favorite catchphrase for politicians: “energy independence.” It is becoming clear that in an economy-centered world, a truly reliable source of energy is just as good as “independence,” as it strengthens trade relations and effectively binds economic prosperity with energy security.
“You say ‘Chinese New Year’ to make people understand that it’s special New Year rather than the international New Year. Chinese people call it ‘Spring Festival’. We do say happy New Year, but when translated, it mostly makes you think about the international New Year. People do say ‘happy New Year’ during Spring Festival too, but Chinese nationals know that you’re talking about Spring Festival rather than the international New Year,” clarifies Xiao Zhao, who works at an embassy in Beijing.
The distinction between the two terms can be confusing; especially when subject to translation. In practice, however, they are the same 15 day celebration and the terms are used inter-changeably. Dai Zhezhen, a student from Chaozhou, a small town in south China, alludes to the symbolism of each day of the New Year festivities.
Three weeks each year in Munich, Oktoberfest beer and sausage generates a billion Euros for a pretty simplistic and traditional folk festival that never seems to disappoint the masses.
Head over to Dispatches International for my latest take on the Dutch society, once the weed smoke clears.
All about La Route Verte, an extensive network of cycling paths connected across the province of Quebec, and how they effect the local communities along the way.