Monthly Archives: September 2021

Danger of Blood Borne Pathogens Contaminations!

Blood borne pathogens are microorganisms such as viruses or bacterias that are carried in blood or body fluid and can cause disease in people, including, Hepatitis B (HBV), AIDS and the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Blood borne pathogens can be transmitted through contact with infected human blood and other potentially infectious body fluids.

Occupation Exposure can occur through :

1. Accidental puncture from contaminated needles, broken glass, or other sharps.

2. Contact between broken or damaged skin and infected skin and infected body fluids.

3. Contact between mucous membranes and infected body fluid.

In an emergency situation involving blood or potentially infectious materials, always use Universal Precautions and try to to minimize your exposure by wearing gloves, splash goggles, pocket mouth to mouth resuscitation masks, and other barrier devices.

If you are exposed:

1. Wash the exposed area thoroughly with soap and running water. Use non-abrasive, anti-bacterial soap if possible. If the blood is splashed in the eye or mucous membrane, flush the affected area with running water for at least 15 minutes.

2. Take a blood test and Hepatitis B vaccination.

3. Tell your doctor the source individual. Try to get the individual blood tested as soon as possible for HIV or HBV after consent is obtained.

Anytime there is blood-to-blood contact with infected blood or body fluids, there is slight potential for transmission.

Unbroken skin forms an impervious barrier against blood borne pathogens. However, infected blood can enter your system through:

Open sores, cuts, abrasions, acne, and any sort of damaged skin such as sun burns or blisters, damaged or open wounds.

Always take precaution and treat all human body fluids and items soiled with human body fluids as contaminated. With contaminated, always first thing to do is to disinfect all spills of body fluid and pre-soak all contaminated clothing.

Motorcycle Automatic Transmission – The Top 3

Motorcycle enthusiasts love a wild goose chase such as the famously beloved, Bigfoot. Many motorcyclists fail to believe that there is actual automatic transmission motorcycles that exist. This is not true because the knowledge isn’t out there. This is actually true because of there just aren’t to many readily available. The top three automatic transmission motorcycles really exist and the proof is found by reading on.

3. The Honda DN-01

The Honda DN-01 was introduced in 2005 as a cruiser motorcycle. This is one of the first of very few automatic transmission motorcycles ever released. The bike didn’t actually make it on showroom floors until 2008-2009. This bike is so powerful to the consumer that it is still being offered in shops as of early 2011. Missing you chance to check out the Honda DN-01 is just wrong. The Honda DN-01 is just one of those bikes you can’t miss a chance to try out for yourself.

2. The Aprilia Mana 850

The Aprilia Mana is a newer automatic transmission motorcycle that was just released last year. This bike is fast and very powerful. The Aprilia Mana 850 is a sleek sports bike that offers highlights from leather to chrome and everything in between. There is nothing better than a quick bike with the backing of being an automatic transmission motorcycle. The Aprilia Mana 800 makes its way to this top three list for being a solid bike with an even nicer ride.

1. The Honda CB750

The Honda CB750 has had many models in its series between 1969-2003. The Honda CB750 automatic transmission models is better known as the Honda CB750 Hondamatic. This model is one of a kind that has a coil ignition start and a solid inline four stroke SOHC air cooled engine. The only downfall to this model was the fact that the gear changing was not automatic. Instead, each gear was chosen by a foot-controlled hydraulic valve. This bike only sold in the North American market but can now be found all over the world.

How to Cure Ringworm?

Ringworm is a very contagious skin fungal infection. It can affect all individuals and even animals. During the infection stage of the ringworm, they produce fungal spores that can be transmitted to others. When you become exposed to fungal spores, you are at high risk to develop ringworm. But ringworms are treatable, and ringworm cures are very helpful to remove and kill fungal spores.

It is very essential to kill the fungi, and prevent the spread of ringworms to your body and to other people or animals. Here are some tips that will help you:

– Perform environmental disinfection regularly. It is important to maintain a clean environment because fungal spores can be present anywhere, especially to places where the infected person has been exposed to. Bleach is common in every household, and is very effective in disinfecting the environment. You just need to make a 1:10 bleach and water solution, and use it in decontamination of floors and surfaces. This will effectively kill the fungal spores, and prevent its transmission.

– Use a vacuum with HEPA filters. High Efficiency Particulate Absorbing or Arrestance (HEPA) filter removes at least 99.97% of airborne particles such as dust and fungi. It is very useful in cleaning carpets and upholstered furniture to remove fungal spores.

– Isolate infected pets. It is very important to separate your infected pet from other animals. You should not touch or come in contact with the infected pet because you can contract the fungal spores that cause ringworm. Consult your pet’s veterinarian so that you can determine what type of treatment will help your pet resolve its ringworm.

– Do not share personal articles. Sharing is a good act but if you have ringworms, it is a big no to share your personal items to others. Your things are contaminated with fungal spores. You should keep them and disinfect them using bleach.

– Keep a clean body. Fungi flourish in dirty areas. Proper personal hygiene should be observed to prevent the spread of ringworm on your skin. It is also important to perform regular hand washing after treating your ringworm, and after touching or treating your infected pet because you can obtain fungi spores from it.

– Maintain a sweat-free body and wear comfortable clothing. Fungi thrive in hot and moist areas of your body such as armpits, groins, and areas which have folds especially to obese individuals. You should keep yourself dry and avoid wearing tight clothes.

– Use a natural ringworm remedy. Natural ringworm remedies are found to be effective against ringworm, and they are absolutely safe to use. They are medicinal herbs that use leaves or extracted oil to cure ringworm such as turmeric (Curcuma longa), coconut oil (Cocos nucifera), mustard seeds (Brassica nigra),cassia leaves (Cassia fistula), holy basil leaves (Ocimum sanctum), butea seeds (Butea monosperma), and papaya seeds (Carica papaya). They are applied directly over the ringworm patch. Carrot (Daucus carota) and spinach juice (Spinacea oleracea) are also helpful in treating ringworm because they contain large amount of beta-carotene, which are very good for skin care.

– Apply topical creams. Topical creams are effective for ringworms that have mild symptoms. They are over-the-counter medications that help to relieve ringworm symptoms and kill fungi that cause ringworms. Topical treatment should be used for 2 to 4 weeks to effectively eradicate the fungi. Topical medications include Miconazole (Micatin, Desenex, Daktarin, Monistat-Derm, and Decocort), Clotrimazole (Mycelex and Lotrimin), and Terbinafine (Lamisil AT, Lamisil, and Lamisil Dermgel).

– Administer anti-fungal pills. Anti-fungal pills are systemic treatment for severe cases of ringworm. It is recommended to consult your physician so that you will be advised on the proper dosage and length of treatment using oral anti-fungal medications. Anti-fungal pills include Griseofulvin (Gris-PEG, Grifulvin V, Fulvicin P/G, and Griseofulicin), Itraconazole (Sporanox and Sporanox PulsePak), Terbinafine (Lamisil), and Fluconazole (Diflucan).

The Parent’s Responsibility in Sex Education

Parents ought to be the first source of sex education for their children. Don’t think that because children can learn about human sexuality in school, your responsibility to teach them about sex has been removed. Especially now that there is confusion as to how to teach human sexuality in school, the parents must be ready to assume the role to educate their children in everything they need to know to understand their sexuality.

Who’s better to teach about morality and the ramification of sex and sexuality to your children than you their parents? Often times, the school only teaches about the anatomy of human sexuality and the issue of morality and the taboos related to sex are often placed on the sidelines. This is where you should come in – teach your children their moral obligation when it comes to sex.

Sex education does not involve only teaching the children about the anatomy of the human reproductive organ. It’s much more than that. Sex education also involves teaching the children their moral obligation towards the opposite sex. Even more so for teenagers, you need to teach them their moral obligation towards their boyfriends or their girlfriends for that matter.

More so if your teenagers are already sexually active. You have an obligation to open their eyes about the possible ramification of their action. Your son could get a girl pregnant or your daughter can become pregnant if they are practicing sex at a very young age. They should understand the implications of their actions.

Another very important aspect of sex education you should teach your children is the issue on sexually transmitted diseases. If they are already sexually active, they must understand that they can contract disease by sleeping around with many partners, or even from their very first sexual encounter

Sex education is always a difficult topic to discuss with your children at home. But this is yet another role of parents that they cannot escape from.

Herpes and Pregnancy

Herpes, both oral and genital, are highly communicable diseases caused by the two strains of the Herpes Simplex Virus: HSV-1 and HSV-2. Genital herpes is transmitted sexually and is rarely transmitted from a pregnant mother to her unborn child, but could prove fatal for the unborn infant if it is transmitted.

It is possible, though unlikely that someone can transmit the virus through the placenta during pregnancy. If this happens, chances of the baby being born with a defect or a miscarriage increase.

The   transmission  also depends upon the stage of pregnancy in which the primary episode of herpes sets in. If the women had primary genital herpes during the first trimester, then there are less chances of the baby being infected. This is because it usually takes the body three to four weeks to buildup antibodies against the virus.

So if herpes happens at the onset of pregnancy, the body gets enough time to build up the immune system. As a result, these antibodies are also passed onto the baby. Generally, mothers can have a normal vaginal delivery.

But this is not so if the woman gets the infection in the second or third trimester of pregnancy. If the blood tests confirm that the women has never had herpes before the experts will recommend a caesarian delivery. This is because at these stages, the body does not get enough time to build up the immune system and the chances of  transmission  are extremely high.

It is easier to prevent herpes than it is to cure it. The highest risk to an infant comes from an infected mother who contracts HSV-1 or 2 during pregnancy and the best way to avoid this is by preventing this situation. Since Genital Herpes is a sexually transmitted disease, steps should be taken to ensure that you don’t transmit herpes during this crucial time.

Auto Mechanics Curriculum – Preparing for the Job of the Future

While taking driver’s education class in high school, for part of the curriculum, a man insisted his daughter take a basic auto mechanics class. They fought for weeks about this class. It was unnecessary. It was ridiculous. After all, she was a girl. After much verbal sparring, she took the class and enjoyed it, using her knowledge many times.

Years later, it became clear why the man wanted his daughter to take this class. Someday, her car would break down. The auto club would not always be able to come to her aid. Roadside assistance is not always available. Especially when the breakdown occurs in the middle of the desert. A person could wait hours for help. That could be dangerous. It was important to know how to fix the basics on her own.

When she became a parent, and her teenage daughter was ready to learn to drive, it was their turn to fight about taking the class. The mother insisted and her daughter relented. As it turns out, after much arguing, the student really enjoyed it. Since she did not have a “head” for business, or fashion, or mathematics, or English, or any other subject for that matter, it seems the one thing she excelled at was fixing cars.

After taking all of the basic classes the school had to offer, the student’s instructor suggested a transfer to the local high school that offered full vocational technical programs. The transfer took place, and for the next two years she took a number of classes like basic tune-ups and trouble-shooting, tire rotation and balancing, transmission repair, engine repair, fluid transfers for oil changes and transmission fluid, and air conditioning, among others. Upon graduation from high school, the student became a licensed auto mechanic.

For this young lady, that was not enough. She wanted to specialize in foreign cars. That required a whole new set of classes. Thus began her enrollment in the local college vo-tech. Another two years and she earned her A.S. Degree in Auto Mechanics. She was able to fix anything on wheels. However, as with any industry, evolution takes place. The new hybrid vehicles are already on the market, and the electric car is just around the corner. She continues with her education to maintain the high level of expertise necessary for the cars of the future.

Auto mechanic classes can help a student with their future. To become a mechanic, one must learn problem-solving skills. Mechanics is a process. So is life. One cannot put gas in a car that has no engine. Such is the same with life. One step at a time.

For students that struggle in school, vo-tech classes and auto mechanic classes have historically been extremely challenging. Their opportunities for success were once unlike the mother and daughter that both took auto mechanics classes and flourished.

Staying Healthy: HIPAA Training

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 is fondly known as HIPAA. It is a law that was enacted to provide protection and safeguard against the issuance of confidential medical information of individual patients. HIPAA specifies that those who work in the medical industry receive training in the laws and procedures of patient information security. Hospitals, physicians, nurses, researchers, and insurance companies are required to understand and be certified in HIPAA rules and regulations. There are those who work as medical staff, clerks and records clerks who must also be trained. HIPAA training teaches policies, organization, and protections as well as the procedures involved in maintaining patient security and privacy rights.

HIPAA Training

If an organization is deemed a covered entity by the medical community that organization is required to provide HIPAA training to all employees, agents, volunteers, trainees and contractors. As a definition, a covered entity handles, stores, and uses private medical information.

HIPAA training can be obtained in several different ways. Generally HIPAA training is completed at the time of first employment with training sessions conducted throughout the employee’s career. Training can be conducted between the execution of agreements, though educational conferences, classes and seminars, on the job training, in newsletter updates, online or several other methods. Whatever way you choose to administer HIPAA training, you will be required to provide employees with certification and keep copies of these certificates on file.

It is possible to incorporate HIPAA training using an agreement entitled a privacy, confidentiality and information security document. This instrument is used at the time employment begins and throughout the employee’s career. Policies of the HIPAA laws and of the clinic will be included and the employee will be tested on HIPAA privacy issues. There should also be signatures from both the employee and the employer stating that training has been offered and the employee is certified. If there is a problem with HIPAA policies or a breach of confidentially and security these documents are the proof that the employee and the employer were trained and signed off on the HIPAA laws.

HIPAA educational courses are dependent on how the employer will handle protected health information and how the employees will use this information. The classes discuss procedures and policies for handling information to be in compliance with HIPAA laws. Written procedures are required to be available in the office, and these written documents describe how patient data is handled, what the policies are in case of a breach, and how a security breach will be documented.

Transmitting Patient Information via Computers

A covered entity stores and exchanges protected medical records through its computer system. HIPAA designates procedures that must be followed. For example computers must be password protected, provide limited access, and have additional back up security procedures. Training regarding the usage of electronic   transmission  of patient data includes computerized exercises developed to create potential HIPAA violations. The tools are given to the employee to resolve the breach. Exercises are documented and graded. This type of training can be very effective when certifying employees in HIPAA security methods.

Diflucan Yeast Infection

Yeast is a type of fungus that may be present normally over the skin. The specific type of yeast that causes many a diseases in human is Candida albicans. This is a normal flora, mainly showing their presence in the moist areas of human skin like armpits, mouth, groin, sexual organs (both in male and female) and fold of the buttocks. It is seen that 20-50% of any normal healthy female carry yeast in their vaginal area.

Candidiasis, or yeast infection can be localized to the skin or there may be severe systemic infection in patients having reduced immunity. These patients usually suffer from AIDS, cancer or cancer patients receiving chemotherapy drugs.

It is estimated that almost 75% of the female population will suffer from vaginal yeast infection at any point of their lifetime. This is again aggravated by previous or secondary bacterial infection like Gonorrhea and protozoal infection like Trichomonas. Some external irritants like vaginal douches or the internal hormonal disturbances derange the normal vaginal flora and there is excess production of the acid producing bacteria like lactobacilli. Regular intake of oral pills, pregnancy, stress, vaginal sex immediately after anal sex and private part lubricants containing glycerin are some predisposing factors of vaginal yeast infection.

Men can also suffer from genital yeast infection. The causes are unclean prepuce, engaging in excessive anal sex and not cleaning after that.

Oral candidiasis can occur in immunocompromized patients. This may also transmit to any person if engaged in oral sex with the infected partner. Long standing diabetes is one of the most contributory factors of oral yeast infection.

Use of antibiotics and steroids (which lowers the immunity) is the two most common causes of yeast infection of mouth cavity and private parts due to indiscriminate use by the doctors and also by the quacks. To kill this offending fungus we need some medicine called antifungal agents. Diflucan is one of them.

Diflucan, or scientifically known as Fluconazole, is an imidazole related antifungal agent which shows primary a fungistatic (inhibiting the growth of fungus) action. But in higher concentrations, Diflucan can also acts as a fungicidal agent (killing fungus). It helps to destroy the cytoplasmic membrane of the fungus and the fungal growth is retarded.

Bioavailability of Diflucan is not affected by presence of food in stomach. After absorption, it promptly shows its presence in skin, tears and urine. The concentration here are at least 10 times more that in sputum, saliva and vaginal fluid. This delineates the excretory process of Diflucan through urine and sweat. This is the reason Diflucan is preferred by doctors treating the cases of skin and vaginal yeast infection.

Patients having irregular heart rate and liver diseases must not take Diflucan as there may be aggravation of the problem. Although Diflucan is well tolerated generally, people can suffer from nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhea infrequently.

The major complications of Diflucan are reduced urine output, ulcerative condition of the lips and gums (Steven-Johnson’s Syndrome). Presence of Diflucan is noted in the breast milk, so nursing mothers should not take this medicine. Diflucan can lead to fetal malformations, therefore the pregnant mothers and those who are planning to have a baby in near future should avoid using Diflucan.

Diflucan is a good medicine in Yeast infection but the side effects are the restrictive factors for the wide use of this drug.

In With the Nu

AS YOU sit in one of the small and scruffy departure lounges at Kunming Airport, waiting for the connecting flight to Xishuangbanna in the southwest, you turn your attention to two large billboards situated prominently near the windows facing the cluttered airstrip. The posters, with glossy defiance, celebrate the ongoing construction of two large hydropower stations on the Jinsha River, the western branch of the Yangtze. The plants, built also to reduce the siltation pressures on the Three Gorges Dam further downstream, are airbrushed in clean and shiny whites and greys, and the water around them remains a perfect and implausible blue.

They are among many such construction projects currently being considered in Yunnan, where economic development has been given the priority above almost everything else, and where power corporations from the east have been rushing to take advantage. A project that will eventually submerge the celebrated Tiger Leaping Gorge – on the section of the Jinsha north of Dali – is also underway, arousing significant international opposition. The International Rivers Network says that the damage caused by the flooding of the valley to the local ‘cultural heritage sites’ will be ‘irreplaceable’. They are also concerned by the irreversible changes to a unique ecosystem.

Meanwhile, the provincial capital of Kunming continues to grow. The train station, renowned as the most unbearable in the whole of China, is still surrounded by rubble and temporary wooden partitions marking some new road or building. The entire city, cowed by roadblocks and scaffolds, picked at by cranes, seems – like many others in China – to be on the verge of an explosion. As the government slogan announces, peremptory and beyond refute, ‘Development is inevitable’.

In the far west of Yunnan, the untouched Nu River seemed to have been given something of a reprieve a few months ago. China’s single remaining virgin waterway, which winds north through some of the province’s most beautiful landscape, was about to be given a big seeing-to by the nation’s energy-mad authorities. Earlier this year, Premier Wen Jiabao was said to have intervened personally, asking developers to reconsider their plans. Still, one imagines that the ‘rape’ of the Nu is just a question of time.

The philosopher, Martin Heidegger, chose to illustrate the two different approaches to nature by comparing the construction of a bridge with the construction of a hydroelectric dam. Modern technology, he wrote, was ‘a manner of unprotecting’ nature. A bridge, connecting up the two banks, shows ‘respect’ for the river, but a hydropower station actually turns nature into part of its own ‘inventory’. The power plant is not built into the river, but the river is built into the power plant.

To illustrate the difference in perspectives, Heidegger compared the Rhine as part of the inventory of modern technology with the Rhine described in a poem by Holderlin. After it has been devastated by technology, the river remains as ‘a provided object of inspection by a party of tourists sent there by a vacation industry’. Such a description seems appropriate in modern Yunnan. While the power companies work their way through the region’s rivers, foreign and domestic tourists have transformed old cities such as Dali and Lijiang, and plans to improve the transportation infrastructure to the west and to the south will see the character of prefectures such as Xishuangbanna and the Nu River changed beyond recognition.

There are a number of small bridges connecting the banks of the Nu, but the favoured means of crossing by the local farmers seems even purer than that. Hooking themselves into a harness consisting of a rope and a piece of flat canvas, they sweep back and forth at massive speeds on a cable attached to a couple of trees, and carry bags of cement, grain and sometimes even livestock between their knees as they do so. One farmer agreed to carry me. Slung across the grey autumn waters and into a patch of worn grass on the Nu River’s left bank, the bowel-shaking fear quickly gave way to a sense of exhilaration.

I was taking a long ride from Dali with an incompetent local tour guide to the town of Liuku in western Yunnan, right on the bank of the Nu River. The area is a picture of health, ruddy and rugged and robustly green. Farmers spin past on motorbikes, trading chunks of meat with local guest houses and restaurants. At one stop along the way, situated on a bend on a country road, a three-legged horse skipped past – cheerfully enough, considering the circumstances. The half-whistle, half-bleat of the local birds could be heard everywhere. Tiny communities lived in wooden shacks on the hills, emerging on Tuesdays to trade at the local markets.

It was tempting to call the place quaint, and worthy of any preservation order that might be made to stick. It was, however, dirt-poor, and though much better and much more lively than a decade or so ago (according to our guide), most of the people living here would love to replace their stilted huts, their latrines, their drafty outhouses, with new buildings and indoor plumbing.

Usually, it is only outsiders who get sentimental. We, after all, can go home somewhere else. One isn’t entirely sure that the life of the poor throughout China would be improved by any degree were their barns, their slums, their shanty towns to become ‘heritage sites’. On the other hand, it is clear that the mass destruction caused by economic growth is not of much benefit to the communities affected. It is also clear that the ecology of Yunnan – one of the most varied and vibrant in China – is being put under threat.

Still, crossing the upper reaches of the Mekong, watching the silt-filled, chocolate-coloured waves and negotiating the old van past the piles of rocks cast down during a recent landslide, one cannot fail to be impressed somehow. I have been bruised, stupefied and generally thrown about by hundreds of poor-quality roads throughout China. Here, the biggest challenge was the occasional ford cutting across a narrow but mostly impeccable mountain pass. In harsh conditions, the road builders had performed well.

Roads are the big thing in Yunnan. Plans are underway to complete a regional high-speed road network that will connect Kunming with Singapore. Coming back from the wild elephant park in Xishuangbanna, we were halted by a fleet of trucks and steamrollers inching along to assist a team of miscellaneously-dressed labourers spreading grit across the tracks. Above us was the skeleton of an overpass, its bare stanchions planted in the fields nearby. The old road will eventually become superfluous for the majority of freight traffic surging through the region and into southeast Asia. Things will change, we thought, and Jinghong, the region’s major city but run at a painfully slow pace, will no doubt be brought up to speed by an opportunistic migrant population from Sichuan or the northeast.

LIUKU is a small urban centre and trading spot for the hundreds of small counties and villages scattered throughout the area, several hundred kilometres west of Dali. Whatever purists might think, the locals would love it if streams of tourists were suddenly to pour in from the more fashionable areas further east, but apart from the way it nestles comfortably – if a little chaotically – in the mountains running along the banks of the Nu, there is little to distinguish the place. Its greatest advantage is its location, and visitors note the great potential of the riverfront, where a couple of cafes now provide much of the town’s nightlife.

As one enters the town, an old Ming Dynasty temple lies on the mountain above the intersection of the Yagoujia River and the Nu River itself. As is customary, the temple appears as if it was built out of papier mache and painted yesterday morning by industrious local schoolkids. A huge laughing Buddha decked out in gold paint seems to dominate the gaff from his little stage. Dogs patrol the high steps, and spiders, each two inches long, nest in the frames of doors and in the overhead lights.

Across on the other side of the river, the effects of the previous night’s rain storm were clear to see, with policemen knee-deep in mud and the road – the only route north – blocked by piles of displaced rock.

The foreigners, so prevalent in Dali, and less so in Jinghong further south, were nowhere to be seen. Hardcore travellers head north to see the enclaves of Tibetans, or the old ethnic ways of the Lisu, the Nu and the Drang nationalities. Some come to see the immense volume of indigenous butterflies, with a couple of Japanese collectors even managing to steal a few rare specimens under the noses of the local authorities a few years ago. There were also stories of a pair of American travellers crossbowed in the back by Lisu hunters after trying to abscond with some significant local religious icon – the man with the story wasn’t quite sure what the object was. The rest of the local legends about foreigners involve them being attacked by Tibetan dogs and carried out of the forests, bleeding. Still, foreigners here are once again the objects of fascination, rather than the sort of seen-it-all-before scorn one gets in Shanghai, or the dollar-sign gazes in Dali and Lijiang.

Guidebooks such as Lonely Planet abhor the current pace of Chinese development, of course, and as the years pass and the new editions enter print, the laments about the high-rises and highways seem to get longer and longer. China is losing its character.

We can understand this. And yet, after a week on the road along the Nu River, speaking no English and staying in the dingiest of guest houses, we still longed for the pizzas, banana pancakes and foreign influences in Dali. Many agreed, and many long-hatched tour plans are thwarted by the magnetism of the town’s bars and cafes. Some foreigners on year-long tours find themselves stuck, unable to leave, trapped in a perpetual marijuana haze and remaining lucid enough just to teach a few classes in the main city and pay for their lodgings.

Travelling further north from Liuku on the way to Fugong the following day, rain clouds lingered like smoke on the mountains, and dozens of blue, three-wheel buggies chugged down the slope on the only road out. We drove through building sites, where workers squatted on dunes of mud, and through villages in which cattle and old nags wandered wearily past, and where tiny, friendly little dogs lounged on almost every stoop. Streams of water, bloated by a heavy rain storm the previous evening, cascaded into the rough Nu waters.

We stopped off in a small market village called Gudeng, close to the Binuo Snow Mountain, and watched the local farmers manhandling a couple of disobedient black pigs. Another offered us a glass of warm corn liquor he had just produced at a makeshift stove attached to a dirty plastic pipe. The dominant presence in the town was the family planning centre, where government slogans about improving the quality of the population were pumped out from a pair of loud speakers, drowning out the Chinese disco beats emerging from the market itself. Apart from the family planning centres, there are other things that seem ubiquitous throughout China, from Xinjiang to Shanghai and from Guangdong to Yunnan. One of them is the pool table. Another is the bill poster advertising cures for sexually-transmitted diseases.

WE CAME to understand that in the pretty little town of Fugong, where we spent Mid-Autumn festival, the local residents – mainly of Lisu minority – would also have longed for the sort of opportunities afforded to Dali. Cafes, restaurants, and a place on the tourist trail would revitalize the place, and would ultimately be of far more value than a hydropower station. Can the two be disconnected? Some of the villages along the banks of the Nu River didn’t even have a watt of electricity until the last decade. It is a fact of life that further development – including the tourist industry – requires more power.

Purists are unlikely to consider the contradiction, and may indeed prefer to slum it – for a week in any case – in tents or in the dingy, second-rate guest houses available en route. Still, the woman at the reception of the guest house in Gongshan seemed apologetic. ‘Are you sure you want to stay here?’ she said.

Heading across the river, we came across a large wooden public house built on an old water mill. Wheels driven by the Nu River itself churned away beneath a section of rooms lined with soggy woven carpets and old Lisu paraphernalia – the traditional costumes and weaponry of the bulk of the local people. A dozen girls from a local hair salon were dancing in the middle of one of the stages on the upper tier of the building, moving two steps forward and two steps back, hand in hand. They greeted us favourably, encouraging us to join in their drinking games. We had a ‘one-heart drink’ (tongxinjiu) – where two people drink from the same glass, their cheeks and mouths touching – with every one of them, the sweet local liquor dripping onto our clothes.

Hours later, after crossing the bridge again and singing Lisu songs as we parted company with our new friends, we managed to stumble through a tunnel and into the grounds of the local Public Security Bureau, where the Fugong police were also celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival with a form of dance which, by the time we started to participate, seemed to involve running at top speed while kicking our legs as high as possible in the air. Local police chiefs, conforming to the stereotypes of drunkenness that seem more or less international, told us that national boundaries didn’t matter, and that friendship transcended all countries. We agreed.

The next morning, driving out of the town and past a long row of old wooden buildings with red sliding doors and a range of shoddy garages that serve as shops and diners, we headed for Gongshan along a spectacular stretch of scenery, part of a 300-km gorge lined with waterfalls, brooks and white cloud pierced by the mountains on both banks. Houses seemed to balance precariously on the plateau, only a storm away from complete collapse. Women carried large squares of corrugated iron along the slopes, their children following.

The whole Gongshan region, an old man in the guest house told me, has now been renamed the ‘Three Rivers Gongshan Region’. ‘They are creating a trademark,’ the man said, shrugging his thin shoulders. The Mekong, the Nu, and the Jinsha all pass through before reaching their source, and the local government are trying to draw in the trade.

The town itself, another sleepy cluster of apartments, restaurants and trading posts all piled up in layers along the slopes leading from the river to the mountain, was actually far from untouched. As was the case in Liuku, the missionaries had already been and gone, leaving a curious legacy of Roman Catholicism among the local minority communities. Mothers sat weaving on the steps of a church – a square, squat one-storey affair with a bright red cross built on the mountain – waiting for evening prayer. Prayer notices on the wrought-iron door of the church were transcribed in a romanized version of the local Lisu language. Some hours later, an implausible disco beat pounded out from a wooden house further up the hill, and the church was empty.

A Tibetan girl, working in a curious entertainment complex close to another Catholic church further down in the valley, asked us if we were fellow believers. She answered to her Catholic name of Mary, and was from Dimaluo, an ethnic mishmash of Tibetans, Lisu, Drong, and others some way further north along the river. There was a sadness to her as she told us her life story, about her stalled education, about the death of her father after a sudden and inexplicable ‘infection’, and about her preference for the countryside from which she hailed.

In the stores nearby, posters of Zhou Enlai, Sun Yatsen and the Panchen Lama swayed slightly in the wind, and beneath them lay the usual clutter of mooncakes, cigarettes and cheap, defective batteries.

What worried us about ‘untouched’ places like Fugong or Gongshan was not so much the prospect of development, and the ‘exploitation’ or ‘despoliation’ or ‘swamping’ of the local culture and character, but the thousands of local residents, educated to a degree, certainly aspirational, but cut off even from the possibility of ambition, marooned in a remote town that is linked to the nearest city only through a single mountain pass that requires two days to traverse. As we did at the Three Gorges, we started to wonder whether the sacrifice of the local scenery could somehow be made worthwhile, if it could allow these people a way out. After all, it might be more appropriate to judge the vitality of a culture by its porousness, and more pertinently, by the opportunities it gives its members to escape and try something new.

Heidegger hated the way the Rhine had become an object of the tourism industry as well as the hydropower industry, but on the Nu River, we had to allow for the fact that the proposed construction of an airport in remote Gongshan, the construction of highways, and the development of local industry might actually be good for the area, in the absence of any other options. Heidegger hated TV and spent most of his final, disgraced decades in a wooden shack in the Black Forest, but he had choice. The local residents in Fugong and Gongshan have TV, and they see the glitter of wealth and opportunity. But they have no wealth. And no opportunity.

And yet, the ‘current mode of development’ is all about exploitation, and the further enrichment of China’s east coast at the expense of the west. The scenery is ruined, the ecology is damaged, and old farming communities are moved to nearby urban slums, where they have little prospect of work or prosperity. Here, as in the Three Gorges and other regions, one imagines that the local people will reap little of the rewards of ‘opening up’.