Communty support

Author: conserva

Veterans ride

The veterans’ memorial ride takes place at 1 p.m. May 4 beginning at Ehlerding’s River City Harley-Davidsion, 5525 Indiana 930, and ends on Broadway in New Haven. Registration is $10 per bike. Registration is 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., with opening ceremony and awards at 12:30 p.m. Proceeds benefit Veterans’ Memorial and Schnelker Memorial Park. Rain date is May 18. Preregister at or call the parks office at 749-2212 or Ehlerding’s at 493-9900.

Honoring lost law officers

The Fraternal Order of Police and Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association will honor law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty while serving residents of Fort Wayne and Allen County at 11 a.m. May 9.

Vitality awards

McMillen Center for Health Education will hold its Vitality Awards at 11:30 a.m. May 15 at Landmark Conference Centre, 6222 Ellison Road. Tickets are $50 and are available at

Host families needed

World Heritage Student Exchange program needs host families for high school students from Europe and Asia. Students are fully insured and will have their own spending money. They are expected to contribute to household responsibilities and to be included in family activities Call Carmen at 1-618-315-9101 or 1-800-888-9040 visit or email

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HILTON HEAD, United States: Matt Kuchar holed out from a bunker at the final hole on Sunday to win the US PGA Tour’s Heritage and hand Luke Donald another Harbour Town disappointment.

“I told my caddie before that last shot, ‘I’m about due to make one of these,’” said Kuchar, who started the day four shots off Donald’s 54-hole lead and fired a seven-under par 64 for an 11-under total of 273.

England’s Donald carded a two-under 69 for 274. The former world number one now has five top-three finishes in this $5.8 million tournament in the past six years — but no victories.

Americans Ben Martin and John Huh shared third place on 275. Martin closed with a 67 and Huh — who was lying second, two strokes behind Donald, going into the round — posted a final-round 68.

It was a further two shots back to Americans Scott Brown and Brian Stuard.

Kuchar was playing four groups ahead of Donald, but after the American’s dramatic finish gave him a one-stroke lead the Englishman was unable to find a birdie in his remaining three holes.

At sixth in the world, Kuchar was the highest-ranked player in the field.

He claimed the seventh US PGA Tour title of his career and his first of the season, although he’d been knocking on the door in recent weeks with a tie for fourth at the Texas Open, a playoff loss to Aussie Matt Jones at the Houston Open and a tie for fifth last week at the Masters.

Things didn’t look so promising, however, after Kuchar three-putted for bogey from inside five feet on the par-three 17th.

That had dropped him into a tie with Donald, after Kuchar had grabbed the lead with seven birdies in his first 10 holes.

“It was just pretty disappointing. It felt like a two-shot swing,” Kuchar said.

He was less disappointed to find himself in the bunker at 18.

“I knew it was a pretty easy up and down,” he said, although it turned out to be even better. “It was so cool to see that thing disappear at the end.”

Donald’s front nine included a double-bogey six at the par-four sixth, but he countered that with three birdies on the front nine to keep himself in the hunt.

Donald followed a bogey at 10 with back-to-back birdies, but couldn’t find another birdie the rest of the way.

He had birdied the 17th in each of the first three rounds, but left himself a 28-foot putt and didn’t make it.

At 18, his own chip slipped past the cup.

“I hit a lot of solid shots, a lot to build off and I’m excited about some of the changes I’ve been making,” Donald said.

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Young guns head for Canada

Author: conserva

With 10,000 18-to 35-year-olds bound for snowier climes under Canada’s newly expanded working holiday visa scheme, the big question is where to go?

And it is a big question. The first thing you’ll notice about Canada is its size. At just under 10 million square kilometres, its territory is second only to Russia. Bounded by three oceans – Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic – it has the longest coastline in the world. To travel its shores at a rate of 20 kilometres a day would take 33 years.

Under the visa scheme, you’ve got just two years to pack it all in, so choose your destination with care.

With 90 per cent of Canada’s 35 million population living along the US border and in the prairie cities of the west, its main urban centres are your best bet for combining work, play and plenty of sightseeing.


Calgary (Alberta)
The western city of Calgary, Alberta’s largest with a population of around one million, invites inward investment, and migration, with the slogan “Be part of the energy”, which gives some clue as to the nature of the business now driving its economy – oil.

The city sits one kilometre above sea level, with mountains to the west and vast prairies to the east and, while it can seem a little isolated compared with the other big Canadian cities, the city has loads of fun diversions to keep the visitor amused.

These include 700km of pathways to walk, run and bike, the opportunity to whiz around on ziplines, bobsleds and skis at Canada Olympic Park, and a great new penguin pool at Calgary Zoo which, by itself, makes up for the rather nondescript modern architecture that makes up most of the city centre.

What’s more, as a gateway to the outdoor playground that is the Canadian Rockies, just over an hour’s drive away, there is a great mix of trails to hike and bike, plus dude ranches and dinosaur bones in the Canadian Badlands to enjoy too.

Immigration is a way of life in Canada, a country whose population has tripled since the 1940s. One upshot of this is that while the country has no real national cuisine to speak of, its cities boast a great array of ethnic and fusion restaurants and Calgary is no exception.

There are also farmers’ markets for locally sourced fresh foods, outdoor shopping streets and indoor malls, with many of its buildings linked by second storey foot-bridges, enabling you avoid the worst of the winter weather.

Also known as Cowtown, the highlight of the year here is the Calgary Stampede, held over 10 days in July and comprising a wild west mix of rodeos, chuckwagon races and live music.

Wherever you are in Canada, the great outdoors is never far away and in Calgary, you can even go trout fishing in the Bow river that runs through it. Or paddle your own canoe through the city centre.

Check out How the West was Once, at Heritage Park Historic Village, or look to the future at Telus Spark, Calgary’s new Science Centre. An eminently liveable city (unless you’re a cat, in which case your right to roam is severely restricted), it is clean, green – the train service is wind powered – and crime rates are low.
Weather Typically sunny regardless of the season, summer days are long with peak temperatures of around 24 degrees Celsius by day. Winters are harsh, sometimes down to -30 degrees at times.
Economy Over the past decade the city has experienced one of the fastest growth rates of any of Canada’s major cities and has one of the best paid workforces. The cost of living is lower than either Toronto or Vancouver and unemployment is 5 per cent with average hourly wage rates for salaried employees at CAD 38 (€25). One bedroom apartments available for around CAD 1,500 (€1,000) a month.

Edmonton (Alberta)
Who could resist a city known as the Festival Capital of Canada? Alberta’s second city – admittedly also know as Canada’s Oil Capital – has 30 big shindigs a year, everything from cowboys to cross-country skiing has an event to celebrate it here, including the country’s biggest cultural Fringe Festival, which attracts half a million spectators.

It’s also one of the sunniest spots in the country, with 2,300 hours of bright sunshine a year – not far off what you’d find in the South of France. Okay, so a lot of it is sunshine on a cold day, but at least you’ll avoid SAD (seasonal affective disorder).

There’s good shopping and socialising, with a quirky mix of boutiques and coffee shops along Whyte Avenue in Old Strathcona, close to Canada’s largest regional theatre, the Catalyst.

Don’t miss the West Edmonton Mall either. It’s the biggest shopping centre in North America, with more than 800 shops vying for your money, plus its own waterpark and a full size skating rink.

There’s a great natural history museum, an award winning, if slightly puzzling, Ukranian Cultural Heritage Village, and plenty of outdoor delights such as Jasper National Park, a four-hour drive away, for hiking and skiing.

You don’t have to leave the city to get out in the wilds, however. Edmonton River Valley Park is the biggest forested urban parkway in North America, perfect for biking or paddling in the North Saskatchewan River.
Weather Summer hovers around 23 degrees but be aware of long, cold winters, with December temperatures typically around -4 degrees by day – and -14 degrees by night.
Economy Ethnically diverse, Edmonton’s oil and gas industries have helped fuel immigration, with around a quarter of the city’s population coming from Asia.

The influx has pushed housing prices up but, on the other hand, taxes are low (as in Calgary, Alberta residents pay lower taxes than those in other provinces). Unemployment is just over 5 per cent and, apart from a shortage of skills in the gas and oil sectors, there is demand for professional services too. Apartments rent for around CAD 1,000 (€660).

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China’s rapid economic development and social transformation brings with it geopolitical ramifications that are features of the daily news. Yet much of the foreign media reporting on China focuses on the eastern seaboard, on the dazzling glass towers of Shanghai or the smog clouded vistas of Beijing. The western regions of China generally only attract attention when something devastating takes places, such as the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake in Sichuan, or in reporting on ongoing ethnic tensions such as between the Han Chinese and Uyghurs in far western Xinjiang. Western understanding of China is thus often skewed. China is a geographically vast and populous multiethnic nation-state/party-state, and warrants more than a myopic focus on the Shanghais and Beijings.

On March 1, 2014, a violent attack at a busy railway station by eight knife-wielding assailants in which 33 people were killed (including four perpetrators) and dozens injured shifted the global spotlight on to China’s southwestern Yunnan Province. The Xinhua News Agency labeled the perpetrators as Uyghurs Muslim terrorists. Some commentators said this would be “China’s 911,” although Chinese authorities played down this angle in the interests, it seems, of defusing ethnic tensions. World attention, in any case, quickly dissipated as the mystery of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 unfolded.

Yunnan Province deserves more attention, and not necessarily directed at the events surrounding the brutal railway station attack. Rather it is worth looking at developments in this land “south of the clouds” (the literal meaning of “Yunnan” in Chinese), which can offer insight into trends in China beyond the eastern seaboard.

Yunnan is a mountainous landlocked province located in southwest China with an average elevation of 1,800 meters. It shares international borders with Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam, and domestic borders with Tibet, Sichuan, Guizhou and Guangxi. With a population of 45 million, in addition to the Han Chinese that account for 67 percent, Yunnan is home to another 25 ethnic groups, making it one of the most ethnically diverse regions in China. The combination of altitude and latitude – the Tropic of Cancer cuts across the south – give Yunnan a warm and wet, and yet also extremely diverse, climate ranging from temperate rainforests to high alpine pastures. Yunnan is also, not surprisingly, one of the most biodiverse region in China and indeed in the world. The cultural and natural significance of this region is recognized with a number of UNESCO World Heritage sites.

This combination of ethnic, climatic and biodiversity has given Yunnan a unique mix of cultures and a special position within Chinese history. Although the Han Chinese states of the “central plains” – that is, eastern China – had interaction with the region of Yunnan for at least two thousand years, it was not formally incorporated into the Chinese dynastic state system until the Mongol conquest during the Yuan Dynasty in the 13th century. Since that time Yunnan has been an integral part of the Chinese frontier. Frontiers are important places for us to study if we wish to learn how cultures interact in past, present and future contexts.

A number of historic trade, culture and migratory routes pass through Yunnan that have all contributed to world history. Most notable is the Southern Silk Road, which connected central China with Mainland Southeast Asia, and then to the Maritime Silk Road, which in turn provided routes to India and beyond. When the northern Silk Road was “closed” due to political or social instability in western China and Central Asia, the Southern Silk Road was an important lifeline between East and West. Yunnan is also home to the Ancient Tea Horse Road, a network of trading routes linking the tea production areas of southwest Yunnan with the tea markets in Tibet, Southeast Asian, Nepal and Central China. Tea is perhaps Yunnan’s greatest claim to fame, as it is regarded by many experts as the first place humans actively cultivated and harvested the Camellia Sinensis plant (the tea tree). Tea, we need to remind ourselves, is the beverage that changed the course of world history on numerous occasions. Yunnanese horses were also highly valued and made their way through trade to Central China and as far away as Bengal in India.

During the Maoist period (1949-1976), when the People’s Republic of China virtually closed its borders, Yunnan was regarded as something of a backwater – a remote and dangerous region inhabited by primitive tribes, wild animals and deadly diseases. Indeed Yunnan has for much of its history had to cope with the label of “backwardness.” The Maoist closed-door policy exacerbated this by denying Yunnan its role as a natural conduit to the peoples south of the border. However, once China embarked on the policies of “reform and openness” in the 1980s Yunnan’s place in the Chinese geopolitical scheme of things began to change. Change in the provinces along the eastern seaboard has been much faster and also much more widely reported, but Yunnan, especially in the last two decades, has started to play catch-up.

Three major factors have contributed to this transformation: Recognition from the Central Government that China’s western regions were falling behind leads to the launch of the “Develop the West” policy. which allocates finances to investing in modern transport infrastructure and key industries (this is interpreted by some non-Han ethnic groups in the far western regions as a “resource extraction policy” but that does not apply to Yunnan); China’s rise changes the dynamic with its Southeast Asian neighbors, in which trade becomes a major incentive to improving relations, along with a number of other policing and natural resource concerns (especially with rivers such as the Mekong and Salween, which pass through Yunnan); and the rising Chinese middleclass and its disposable income, the promotion of a leisure economy and improved transport infrastructure (making once remote regions readily accessible) makes Yunnan’s cultural, topographical and botanical diversity a major tourism asset and tourism quickly grows to become the province’s second largest industry (after tobacco).

Shifting Geopolitical Importance

As the Chinese economy expanded and trade with Southeast Asia (ASEAN) nations increased, Yunnan, once regarded as a backwater on the frontier, suddenly becomes an important strategic region in which more open borders and the flow of goods and people were encouraged. In 2010, the Central Government officially sanctioned the Yunnanese strategy to function as a bridgehead (qiaotoubao) to Southeast Asia. This was a crystallization of existing trends in trade and cross-border cooperation with a much more long term and focused vision to drive Yunnan’s outreach to its neighbors into the future.

The move towards increased connectivity is part of the more general investment in a modern transport infrastructure across China, including Yunnan. With the development of modern expressways, airports, and railways, Yunnan’s once isolated status is now giving way to modern versions of the Southern Silk Road and Ancient Tea Horse Road. Yunnan is home to China’s first international expressway linking Kunming, the provincial capital, to Bangkok. Plans for expressways all the way to Singapore, including fast rail, are also on the agenda. In the coming decades this expanding transport infrastructure has the potential to radically change this region.

Discovering “Shangri-La”

Although Yunnan over the centuries has been an important destination for Han migration, for much of the modern period it suffered from something of an image problem, being seen as backward and primitive. During the Maoist period, thousands of young Chinese, many from Shanghai, were sent to the jungles of Yunnan’s southwest to work in the army corps devoted to establishing China’s rubber industry. For urban youth from Shanghai this was akin to being sent to the end of the world. However, with improved transport infrastructure and rising middle-class disposable incomes, Yunnan has reversed its fortunes and become one of China’s most popular regions for domestic tourism, attracting more than 45 million visitors each year. One area near the border of Tibet even changed its official place name to “Shangri-La,” hoping to brand itself for tourism. Some parts of Yunnan with a more pleasant climate and clean air, such as Dali and Lijiang, have even emerged in recent years as popular destinations for lifestyle migrants, with people from the large urban centers of eastern China moving there to escape pollution and congestion and, supposedly, enjoy a more relaxed lifestyle. The contrast between the young students of the Cultural Revolution sent to the rubber plantations and the contemporary young backpackers and lifestyle seekers couldn’t be more stark.

These trends are generally viewed within Yunnan as positive developments. Many people seem to be happy that Yunnan’s image and importance is changing. But it is also possible to detect concern for what such rapid change will mean for Yunnan’s cultural and environmental diversity. Tourism has generated significant income and employment opportunities but it also commodifies cultures and makes it difficult for younger people to adroitly manage the demands of maintaining their cultural heritage, on the one hand, and embracing the modern world, on the other. The growing influx of visitors and the ongoing process of urbanization within Yunnan is also having negative impacts on its fragile ecosystems.

That is just one way in which Southwest China’s Yunnan Province is a microcosm, offering insights into the many internal paths and trajectories that exist within China today.

Dr Gary Sigley is professor in Asian and Chinese Studies at The University of Western Australia.

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Rice above it

Author: conserva

DAILY CHORES: A farmer carries grass for her bullocks.

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On a winding road high in the mountains of Bali, a three-hour-or-so drive from Nusa Dua, we stumble across a tableau that surely could have existed any time over the past several centuries.

Below us, as our vehicle draws to a stop on the ragged edge of the bitumen road, a farmer and his two cows – or are they bullocks? – framed by extravagant palm fronds, are ploughing a water-logged rice paddy, a mosaic of caramel-coloured mud criss-crossed by lush green grassed paths.

As I gaze down at the rice field, the farmer so intensely focused he doesn’t even glance up at us, I hear a rustling sound behind me.

I turn to see a figure, its head a huge ball of long grass with a straw conical hat balanced on top, walking towards me looking like a character from some subsistence farming horror movie.

I greet the creature, stooping to discover a smiling face and shiny white teeth hidden below the blades of grass. She has to be the farmer’s wife. Not speaking English, she pauses to pose for a photo and then plunges down the hill to deliver the feed to the family bullocks. Then we’re off, too, leaving the couple – or quartet, if you count the bullocks – to their toil.

A few years ago UNESCO awarded a World Heritage listing to Bali’s rice terraces, feats of manual engineering just like the one we’ve just observed.

Remarkably, for an island of such immense physical and spiritual beauty, it’s Bali’s first and only such listing, one that recognises the island’s unique system of rice cultivation management known as subak.

Subak reflects the Hindu philosophical concept of tri hita karana – roughly translated as “three reasons for prosperity” and is derived from the ancient cultural exchange between Bali and India during the past 2000 years.

The new World Heritage-listed areas consist of five major rice terrace centres and their impressive water temples, the focus of a co-operative water management system of canals and weirs that date from the ninth century.

I’ve been to Bali, like many Australians, more than a few times and although I’ve visited the odd temple there I’ve only marvelled at its network of rice terraces from afar, until now, on this day-long guided tour of a unique feature of Balinese culture.

“Once the tourists used to go to the Balinese culture,” bemoans my guide, Sumadi Wayan, “but now the Balinese culture comes to them [at their resorts and hotels].”

Bali’s subak system, effectively a form of social control, is designed to dispense an equitable share of water resources to each and every rice farmer from the top of the mountain right down to the bottom. It’s enabled the Balinese, a population of more than 4 million on a relatively small island, to be self-sufficient in rice, save for the occasional poor season.

But the World Heritage listing, as is sometimes the case around the globe, particularly in the developing world, has been both a blessing and a curse.

“Many of the local people didn’t realise what the listing meant,” says Wayan. “It came with many new rules. ‘What is the benefit for us?’ some of the local people asked. ‘We still have to work each day’.”

Although agritourism is an evolving industry in Bali benefiting the Balinese far removed from the coast, Wayan says rice farmers are seeking tax breaks from the government in order to continue farming because the limitations imposed by the World Heritage listing have meant that they can only sell their land to other farmers, who are invariably just as poor as themselves.

So far, the potential tourism benefits from the listing have not flowed to the communities.

Back on the roads of central Bali, we journey along palm-shaded lanes with the vines from enormous, ancient trees dangling before us like immense threadbare curtains. Eventually, at Jatiluwih in west Bali, we stop at a lookout.

It affords some of the finest views of rice terraces in the island, with 2276-metre Mount Batukaru as a backdrop, dominating the landscape for as far as we can see.

On this brilliantly fine day, with the nagging heat of the coast marginally cooled by the mountain air, the rice terraces merge into mist-shrouded mountains, veritable stairways to heaven.

Here we’re just 40 kilometres from the main city of Denpasar but with the condition of Bali’s back roads, that means a two-hour drive and a world away.

Later, on our journey around the island that began soon after dawn, those heavens turn slate grey, and open with a typical monsoonal intensity. As we motor through yet more villages, each with their own ceremonial stone gateways, we watch as the Balinese pluck giant banana leaves from trees to use as makeshift umbrellas.

By the time we reach the supreme water temple of Pura Ulun Danu Batur, perched 900 metres above sea level and dedicated to the gods and goddesses of agriculture and water, we’ve left the rain well behind us. But the temperature has dropped sufficiently for a light jacket to be required.

The temple, dedicated to the supreme water goddess Dewi Danu, is at the rim of a crater lake of the volcanic, 1717- metre Mount Batur in central Bali.

Legend has it that in ancient times God Pasupati (Shiva) moved the peak of Mount Mahameru in Hindu India and divided it into two.

He took one part with his left hand and the other with his right hand. Parts of that taken with his right hand became Mount Agung – Bali’s highest point at 3142 metres – serving as a throne for his son God Putranjaya (Mahadeva Shiva) while the one in his left hand became Mount Batur, a throne for Dewi Danu, the Goddess of the Lake (the manifestation of Vishnu).

With its nine tall holy towers (and no less than 285 shrines and pavilions) Pura Ulun Danu Batur looks like an oversized architect’s scale model of a small city’s CBD.

And, as it eventuates, the temple as it stands today effectively is a replica. In 1926, Mount Batur erupted and the village, including the temple, was buried by lava.

Miraculously, the 11-tiered and most important shrine dedicated to Dewi Dan survived and it, the temple and the entire village was eventually rebuilt on the higher ground of its present site.

Back on the road and nearing the end of the day, closer to Ubud we have one last temple, Gunung Kawi, to visit.

It’s the site of the ancient royal tombs of Balinese kings. Few tourists seem to bother to make a pilgrimage to this wondrous and under-rated site due to the 270 steep steps that have to be negotiated in order to reach the temple, nestled deep in a lush valley.

As I head down the hill, shirt plastered to my back like a gluey, floppy sheet of wallpaper, we encounter a group of weary elderly women with weathered and pained faces traipsing in the opposite direction. On their heads they’re balancing large, heavy bags of rice harvested from the paddies below, from where, as far as I can tell, there is no vehicular access.

I turn my mind back to earlier in the day and the farmer and his wife struggling to plough the soaking field. You can eat rice but not a World Heritage citation.

Gunung Kawi, dating to the 11th century and surrounded by rice fields, is believed to be where the subak system was developed.

Once you reach the last of those 270 steps in order to reach the temple, which is carved from the rock walls of the valley, you cross a bridge over the fast-flowing Pakerisan River. On the other side appears the temple complex, a secret water world consisting of 10 shrines, each as high as seven metres and carved into a cliff-face, replete with water features.

As a constant flow of water trickles along irrigation channels and pours from outlets at the base of the shrines into long troughs, I learn that the shrines are believed to be dedicated to a Balinese king and his favourite queens.

Even with that enervating walk back up the top of the hill, with or without bags of rice, it’s hard to imagine, here, amid the rice fields, river and royalty, a more profoundly gorgeous resting place for nobility or mere mortal alike.

Anthony Dennis is national travel editor. He travelled as a guest of My Bali.



A full-day tour of Bali’s World Heritage-listed rice terraces and water temples with a driver costs $US170 ($196), including entrance fees, for two. Book through Bali Res Centre. An English-speaking guide costs extra. See


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– Sydney Morning Herald

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