Nature

A general view of a village in Pu'er, Yunnan province, China, 12 May 2022. (Xinhua)

Can’t bear to part: A cultural historian in Yunnan's Pu’er

In Pu’er, Yunnan, if you get the chance to meet the Lahu, Wa, Yi, Hani or the Dai people, you’d be blessed, as cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai was, with their down-to-earth hospitality. Their ties to the land and their traditions are captured beautifully in Can’t Bear to Part, a folk song that every Pu’er native knows.
People tour the Autumn Moon on a Quiet Lake (平湖秋月), known as one of the “ten scenes of West Lake”, in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, 2 May 2022. (CNS)

Cultural historian: Fish as large as submarines in Hangzhou?

On a walk in the deserted Lingfeng Temple near Yuquan Botanical Garden in Hangzhou, cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai muses that peace and quiet is a blessing but a kiss of death for small teahouses trying to make a living. Also, memories of days gone by may be blurry over time. Either that or things have really changed, and one must face the sad reality that the good old days can never be brought back.
The blooming Calophyllum blancoi. (Facebook/蔣勳)

Taiwanese art historian: Reflecting on the indigenous culture of Orchid Island

Catching sight of a rare native flower in bloom, art historian Chiang Hsun ponders beauty in diversity and the unique heritage of the indigenous people of Taiwan’s Orchid Island.
A couple takes their wedding photographs on West Lake in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, 13 December 2021. (CNS)

My longing for the elusive fish of spring

Cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai was looking forward to sampling seasonal dishes during his recent visit to Hangzhou. Alas, not all restaurants are well prepared enough to serve up every seasonal dish a diner desires. Better luck next time.
Lion Rock in Hong Kong at sunset. (Photo: Nhk9/Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0)

Cultural historian: A woman swinging on a branch and an abused tree

Cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai remembers the days when he lived at the foot of a hill in Hong Kong’s Kowloon Tong district. He enjoyed the serene calm and respected nature’s bounty, but he can’t say the same for some hill visitors who would ”abuse” the trees and take them for granted. Even giving trees will one day be worn out.
Couples attend a group wedding ceremony at a marriage registry in Donghai, Jiangsu province, China, on 22 February 2022, a palindrome day written as "22-2-22". (AFP)

Monogamy or polygamy: An economic choice?

One may be tempted to assume that monogamy is the ideal that humans aspire to, but this is not the case, says Chinese economics professor Li Jingkui. He explains why different marriage systems were devised to maximise economic benefits.
Japanese Macaques, also known as Snow Monkeys, gather to soak in a hot spring at Hakodate Tropical Botanical Garden in Hakodate, Hokkaido, Japan, 14 January 2022, in this photo taken by Kyodo. (Kyodo via Reuters)

More than a bath: From hot springs in ancient China to onsens in Japan

Cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai recalls relaxing jaunts to the hot springs of Taiwan’s Beitou District and later Hokkaido. He muses that the hot spring’s power to rejuvenate and heal were appreciated and documented by Chinese ancients long before it was thought to be a Japanese domain.
A wintry scene of a snow-clad landscape. (WeChat/玉茗堂前)

What does Zhuangzi have to do with goldfish in a Suzhou winter pond?

Wintry scenes of snow-clad landscapes make one in the mood for poetry. One look at Suzhou’s Tiger Hill Pagoda or the Humble Administrator’s Garden blanketed in snow and ancient poets would have been lost in their reverie, producing great works. Cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai remembers the year 2018 when there was heavy snow in China's southern Jiangnan region.
The Shandong and Jinan authorities have set up investigative teams to look into thousands of illegally constructed villas in the area. (Internet)

When China’s local governments ignore Xi Jinping’s instructions to demolish illegally built villas

Recent media reports have highlighted the issue of villas continuing to be illegally built in the mountains of southern Jinan even as those found are demolished. Shandong and Jinan authorities have swiftly launched investigations, including taking action against party cadres who might be involved, but will their persistence last? Zaobao correspondent Yu Zeyuan reports.