Tag Archives: Environment

Old banyan temple upholds new green policy

Liu Rong TempleLiu Rong Temple, with over 1500 years of history dated back from Song Dynasty, is a tranquil scenic spot for both Buddhist worshippers, scholars, and tourists, surrounded by ancient banyan trees seemingly hidden in the concrete jungle of Guangzhou, one of the largest cities in China.

The renovation in the 90s has introduced two modern symbols of the temple, the Gong De Tang praying center, and the learning hall center.

Before it underwent major and costly renovation in the 90s, Gong De Tang was in its antiquated shape. hence the growing community and visitors alike called for a restoration which, after its completion, was followed by a new policy “the modern civilization prayer service”, encouraged in part by the central government.

In the face of environmental issues, the temple prohibits visitors from carrying incense to perform their ritual in the temple, instead providing a limited number of 3 earth-friendly incense sticks per person for free.

There will be no more sight of excessive ashes from burned joss papers as in old rituals.

Another modern facility in the complex is the conference center to hold traditional, cultural, and art learning, taught by Buddhist scholars from colleges across China.

In the first half of 2018, over 12 seminars were held, attended by around 5000 guests, domestic and foreign alike.

Liu Rong Temple

Hidden tea hills

Tea plantation in Sukabumi, West Java

There are 11 major tea-producing provinces in Indonesia that contribute to the country’s seventh place in the world’s biggest tea exporters. At the top spot of these provinces is West Java with nearly ten thousand hectares of lands in total for tea plantations.

The province’s green scenery dominated by plantation in relatively high altitude is a correct assumption. But some are off-limits to the public, as they belonged to a privately-invested lands.

But given its large size, it is quite impossible to hide it from travelers sight. This one, for instance, is situated on the outskirts of the province’s capital city, Bandung. It hides behind Setu Patenggang, a natural spot popular for its sulfuric lake on a white crater at the top of an inactive volcanic mountain, Mount Patuha.

By continuing the uphill tracks beyond the crowded meeting point at the entrance of the sightseeing place, the stony path leads to the remaining of what used to be a lush West Java forest, before it shrinks to its current condition to make way for expanding population and the living space. Beyond these trees is an abrupt change of scenery.

An unhindered vista of flat and green tea leafs blanketing the surrounding hills was worth half an hour lonely walks from what was initially supposed to be a typical tourist visit to the white crater.

With a little sense of intuition, an adventure-seeking traveler is more likely to get what he/she wishes for, more than just seeing a crowded places on guidebooks.

But this gem could have been more available to public when the demand is as popular a commodity as it is in Britain, for example. With a population four times less than Indonesia, the per capita tea consumption is ten times more.

Although Indonesia is traditionally among the top ten tea producers globally, its national consumption ranked 46. Given the topographical suitability to plant tea leaves and the enormous size of land, West Java has a far way to get anywhere near its full potential, but the downside it brings is apparent.

Forest diminishes in favor of plantation. And as fast as the rate of deforestation, people must be aware of the price to be the first in agricultural commodity.

Eeriness crept as one took a walk down the narrow path that only fitted one body, and added by the mountain breeze that brought cold air at noon. The thick fog at the top of the mountains and the gloomy weather made it seemingly hard to tell the time.

Heart raced when the sound of approaching vehicle was heard from the distance, for fear of being caught by the patroling staff. This piece of land, after all, serves for business purpose, hence those who are not employees are barred from entering.

Tea plantation in Sukabumi, West Java

Go south

Yenny WongsoPHOTOGRAPHS  I  YENNY WONGSO

Yenny Wongso is a bachelor of Chinese Language in Beijing. In her recent tour to Western Europe and Italy, she captured many remarkable pictures. She now works and studies in Jakarta.


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The clear blue sky as the backdrop of the chains of mountain—part of the giant Southern Alps—welcomed the plane when it landed on the south island of New Zealand. The Queenstown International Airport was flanked by a fraction of 50 volcanic mountains in the country. Don’t worry, the last earthquake occured in south island in 1968.

White clouds blanketed most of its long summit, a beautiful scenery to begin the journey on this resort destination. For Asian tourists coming from the typical densely populated home city, the south island would have certainly made them dumbfounded with the least appearance of humans.

It is one of the less inhabitated lands on earth in comparison with the modern world that is crowded by over 6 billion people.

The ultimate stop on the visit to the south island of New Zealand is Christchurch, the third most populous city in the country after Auckland and Wellington in the north island, with just over 340,000 inhabitants. Over 30 per cent of the south island population lived in Christchurch.

As the history of the European settlement in New Zealand started in the south island during the goldrush that culminated in the 19th century, Christchurch is the country’s first established city.

Frequent series of earthquakes over two years since 2010 had changed its outlook into even more vibrant and new. Rapid and thorough restoration that took place in the past two years made the traces of destructive impact of earthquakes disappeared.

New Zealand was one of the last stops of human migration in the prehistoric era. Its indigeneous Eastern Polynesian people, the Maoris, settled long before the Dutch and British voyagers found the island in the 17th century, calling it Autearoa, meaning the land of the long white cloud.

The country’s name refers to the Abel Tasman-led Dutch explorers who called it upon discovery in 1642 Nova Zeelandia. The British explorers anglicised the name to New Zealand, and unanimously agreed by consesus for use until today.

Mountain forest of West Java

Mountain forest of Bandung, West Java

Rocky path near a crater of Mountain Patuha, around 50 kilometers off Bandung, provides an easy trail for visitors who plans to enjoy natural scenery on the weekends.

But the crater lake is the main place of interest that attracts the majority people, if not all. The short walk is mostly overlooked, and that is what makes this section of forest hidden from outside presence. It is known mostly among locals, but ironically taken for granted.

The forest at the crater of Mountain Patuha can be reached by driving further up from Ciwidey, a tourism spot famous for its cold climate.

By taking the alternate road instead of following the sign to the sulfur crater, what was thought an off-limit area appears to be a rocky path that reveals an unexpected wilderness.

A deeper walk into the forest will bring an encounter with a variety of plants, some of which are hundred years old trees.

The leafy branches that prevent direct sunlight, thus causes high moisture, has created a conducive environment for an equally wide variety of moss.

The natural cycle of life and death in Mountain Patuha makes its lush forest alive. The dead tree gives way for the growth of new ones that will continue the life span of this forest for another century, provided well-preserved.

So far, the preservation of Mountain Patuha helps keep the tropical view pristine in a relatively cramped space on the outskirts of Bandung, West Java.

See also: Hidden tea hills of Sukabumi, West Java

Mountain forest of Bandung, West Java