Friday, October 31, 2014

Sichuan – China

Sichuan – China

Executive summary by darmansjah

Sichuan (Chinese: About this sound Sìchuān, known formerly in the West by its postal map spellings of Szechwan or Szechuan) is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the southwest of the country. The capital is Chengdu, a key economic centre of Western China.

Sichuan was referred to in ancient Chinese sources as Ba-Shuby combining the names two independent states within the Sichuan Basin — the kingdoms of Ba and Shu. This and other discoveries in Sichuan contest the conventional historiography that the local culture and technology of Sichuan were undeveloped in comparison to the technologically and culturally "advanced" China Proper in the Yellow River valley.The region had its own distinct religious beliefs and worldview. Since the Yangtze River flows through the basin and is thus upstream of eastern and southern China, navies could easily sail downstream. Therefore Sichuan was the base for numerous amphibious military forces and also served as the ideal hiding frontier for political refugees of Chinese governments throughout history. Sichuan was subjected to the autonomous control of kings named by the imperial family of Han Dynasty. In 221, during the partition following the fall of the Eastern Han Dynasty, i.e. the era of the Three Kingdoms, Liu Bei founded the southwest kingdom of Shu-Han in the region with Chengdu as its capital.

Sichuan, within its present borders, consists of two very geographically distinct parts. The eastern part of the province is mostly within the fertile Sichuan basin (which is shared by Sichuan with the now-separate Chongqing Municipality). The western Sichuan consists of the numerous mountain ranges forming the easternmost part of the Tibetan Plateau, which are known generically as Hengduan Mountains. Lesser mountain ranges surround the Sichuan Basin from north, east, and south. Among them are the Daba Mountains, in the province's northeast.

Plate tectonics formed the Longmen Shan fault, which runs under the north-easterly mountain location of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.

The Yangtze River and its tributaries flows through the mountains of western Sichuan and the Sichuan Basin; thus, the province is upstream of the great cities that stand along the Yangtze River further to the east, such as Chongqing, Wuhan, Nanjing and Shanghai. One of the major tributaries of the Yangtze within the province is the Min River of central Sichuan, which joins the Yangtze at Yibin.

Under the Köppen climate classification, the Sichuan Basin (including Chengdu) in the eastern half of the province experiences a humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cwa or Cfa), with long, hot, humid summers and short, mild to cool, dry and cloudy winters, and China's lowest sunshine totals. The southern part of the province, including Panzhihua and Xichang, has a sunny climate with short, very mild winters and very warm to hot summers.

Sichuan borders Qinghai to the northwest, Gansu to the north, Shaanxi to the northeast, Chongqing to the east, Guizhou to the southeast, Yunnan to the south, and the Tibet Autonomous Region to the west.


On 3 November 2007, the Sichuan Transportation Bureau announced that the Sui-Yu Expressway was completed after three years of construction. After completion of the Chongqing section of the road, the 36.64 km (22.77 mi) expressway connected Cheng-Nan Expressway and formed the shortest expressway from Chengdu to Chongqing. The total investment was 1.045 billion yuan.Major railways in Sichuan include the Baoji–Chengdu, Chengdu–Chongqing, Chengdu–Kunming, Neijiang–Kunming, Suining-Chongqing and Chengdu–Dazhou Railways. A high-speed rail line connects Chengdu and Dujiangyan.


The most prominent traits of Sichuanese cuisine are described by four words: spicy, hot, fresh and fragrant. Sichuan cuisine is popular in the whole nation of China, so are Sichuan chefs. Two famous Sichuan chefs are Chen Kenmin and his son Chen Kenichi, who was Iron Chef Chinese on the Japanese television series "Iron Chef".

UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Dazu Rock Carvings, listed as property of the Chongqing municipality
Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area
Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries

Mount Emei Scenic Area, including Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Area
Mount Qincheng and the Dujiangyan Irrigation System
Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries

In 263, the Jin Dynasty from north China conquered the Kingdom of Shu-Han as its first step on the path to unify China again, under their rule.

In the early 20th century, the newly founded Republic of China established Chuanbian Special Administrative District, which acknowledged the unique culture and economy of the region largely differing from that of mainstream northern China in the Yellow River region. The Special District later became the province of Xikang, incorporating the areas inhabited by Yi, Tibetan and Qiang ethnic minorities to its west, and eastern part of today's Tibet Autonomous Region.

The difficulty of accessing the region overland from the eastern part of China and the foggy climate hindering the accuracy of Japanese bombing of the Sichuan Basin, made the region the stronghold of Chiang Kai-Shek's Kuomintang government during 1938-45, and led to the Bombing of Chongqing.

The Second Sino-Japanese War was soon followed by the resumed Chinese Civil War, and the cities of East China fell to the Communists one after another, the Kuomintang government again tried to make Sichuan its stronghold on the mainland. In 1978, when Deng Xiaoping took power, Sichuan was one of the first provinces to undergo limited experimentation with market economic enterprise.

From 1955 until 1997 Sichuan had been China's most populous province, hitting 100 million mark shortly after the 1982 census figure of 99,730,000. This changed in 1997 when the city of Chongqing as well as the surrounding counties of Fuling and Wanxian were split off into the new Chongqing Municipality. Official figures recorded a death toll of nearly 70,000 people, and millions of people were left homeless

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Hamilton Pool Nature Preserve in Texas

Executive summary by darmansjah

Hamilton Pool Preserve is currently NOT allowing swimming due to recent rains and the potential for high bacteria levels.  The earliest time swimming might be allowed is Thursday, September 26.  For updated information about Hamilton Pool Preserve please call our public information line at (512) 264-2740.  During summer days when swimming is allowed, and especially on summer weekends, the number of people trying to visit Hamilton Pool greatly exceeds the number of people the canyon can accommodate.  Hamilton Pool Preserve is a historic swimming hole which was designated a preserve by the Travis County Commissioner's Court in 1990. The diverse vegetation of Hamilton Pool ranges from semi-arid species in the uplands to riparian species in the canyon. Hamilton Pool Preserve is a part of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve (BCP). For more information about BCP, call the Travis County BCP coordinator at (512) 854-9383.

 Hiking trails

A unique natural area surrounds this pool, collapsed grotto and canyon, formed by thousands of years of water erosion. In the mid 1860s, Morgan C. Hamilton owned the property now known as Hamilton Pool Preserve. In 1980, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department cited Hamilton Pool as the most significant natural area in rural Travis County. In 1985, Travis County purchased 232 acres from the Reimers family and implemented an aggressive land management plan to restore Hamilton Pool. Ongoing land management practices at Hamilton Pool Preserve include prescribed burns, prairie restoration, endangered species surveys, biological inventories and water quality monitoring.

Pets are prohibited. Swim at your own risk (when swimming is allowed).


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Aiguill e du midi, Chamonix, France

Executive summary by darmansjah

The Aiguille du Midi (3,842 m) is a mountain in the Mont Blanc massif in the French Alps.

The name "Aiguille du Midi" translates literally as "Needle of the Noon" or "Needle of the South". It gets its name from its tapered form and from its position when viewed from Chamonix: it approximately indicates noon when the sun passes over its summit.

The cable car to the summit, the Téléphérique de l'Aiguille du Midi, was built in 1955 and held the title of the world's highest cable car for about two decades. It still holds the record as the highest vertical ascent cable car in the world, from 1,035 m to 3842 m. There are two sections: from Chamonix to Plan de l'Aiguille at 2,317 m and then directly, without any support pillar, to the upper station at 3,777 m (the building contains an elevator to the summit). 

The span of the second section is 2,867 m (1.781 mi) measured directly, but only 2,500 m (1.6 mi) measured horizontally. Thus it remains the second longest span width, measured directly. The tramway travels from Chamonix to the top of the Aiguille du Midi – an altitude gain of over 2,800 m – in 20 minutes. An adult ticket from Chamonix (as of 9/5/2012 to 30/11/2012) is €50 return.

The Aiguille summit contains a panoramic viewing platform, a café and a gift shop. The Vallée Blanche ski run begins here, and the nearby Cosmiques Refuge is the starting point for one of the routes to the Mont Blanc summit. From the Aiguille another cable car (summer months only), the Vallee Blanche Aerial Tramway crosses the Glacier du Géant to Pointe Helbronner (3,462 m) at the Italian side of the Mont Blanc Massif. Pointe Helbronner is served with a cable car from La Palud, a village near Courmayeur in the Aosta Valley (Italy).