The Top Three Benefits of Changing Transmission Fluid

There has always been some debate on the pros and cons of changing your transmission fluid on a routine basis, per your vehicle owner’s manual recommendation. One of the many rumored suspicions is that doing so will open your car up to having dreaded transmission issues sooner. To debunk those conspiracy theories, let’s get into the meat of the topic and explore, together, why it absolutely makes sense to change it regularly; and how not doing so could actually cause your car to run sluggishly – potentially costing you precious pennies in the long run!

1) Heat is the enemy

The number one reason that manufacturers recommend you change your transmission fluid regularly is because it degrades as it continually heats up during driving. There are exhaustive studies about the precise temperatures in which its effectiveness actually wanes. Suffice it to say that most owner’s manuals duly recommend changing your fluid every 30,000 miles. There is one exception to this rule: newer vehicles using Dexron III ATF fluid can often go up to 100,000 miles before needing to be changed. As you drive, and the transmission heats up, the viscosity of your fluid changes; over time, this heat causes transmissions to burn up and this is the single-most cause of transmission repairs today – burned up transmissions.

2) Gunk and sludge

As your transmission continues to heat up and it continues to break down, your car’s transmission components begin to get bogged down with gunk and sludge. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that gunk and sludge are going to clog up your transmission gears, causing unnatural wear and tear on your vehicle’s transmission. If you want your transmission to continue to operate smoothly, it is vital to keep it clean.

3) Leaky seals and putrid odors

No, I’m not talking about a horror flick here. A well-maintained machine is one whose owner regularly checks the transmission fluid levels – yes, using the dipstick! You should ideally check your transmission fluid level when your engine is warm and idling. Transmission fluid should be bright red and should smell sweet, not putrid or rancid. It shouldn’t be brown or black or even dark red. It should look like the tip of the spindle after Sleeping Beauty pricked her finger. If your transmission fluid level is low, or the color is not right, it’s time to change your transmission fluid and check (or have checked by the mechanic) all of the seals around the transmission for leaks.

If you want your transmission to last throughout the life of the car, it is imperative that you change your transmission fluid regularly, following your owner’s manual guidelines and a few common sense rules. In today’s world of disposable everything – neglecting your transmission can be a rude awakening to your wallet. The potential costs associated with ignoring the routine maintenance guidelines on your transmission could total thousands of dollars that would be better spent on a nice, warm vacation to a sunny spot this summer.

Defuse It – How to Not Let Anger Ruin Your Relationships

If you’re tired of feeling alone and not understood after an argument or conversation, then here’s what you need to do to keep your communications with the people want to open.

Empathize

Empathize with the people around you. You might consider that when these people do things that get to you that maybe they did not intend to do it. Now if you know that the attack was intended then you need to ignore it all. Because if a person can make you angry whenever they want to, they can control you.

But if it is not intentional, consider that the other person does what they do because of a weakness that they have. They might need your help to get some things sorted out.

Situations and circumstances that involve anger are sometimes not easy to deal with.

Soft answers

I bet you did not know that you can get someone to stop being angry by speaking soft and kind words to them. It is important that you recognize this for your relationships because when you show anger to someone, you could expect that in the majority of cases they will return that anger back to you in the form of anger of their own.

So the anger will have to stop somewhere and stopping anger will involve the use of soft answers going back and forth between the people involved.

Your hope and effort is that this way of dealing with anger will be picked up by all involved and that the angry situation would become less of an issue because of the goodwill and cooperation that soft answers are able to produce.

Do you want your relationship?

Another thing you will want to do is really consider if the relationship you are dealing with is important to you and what you are trying to do in life.

If you check it out and find that the relationship is right and you want it, then you will find this reason alone one of the biggest motivators for the persistence that is necessary for success.

If you check and find that the relationship is not worth your time then you will not have the strength to overcome the difficulties that are there. You still do not want anger to destroy it, but then maybe this bad relationship may have something to do with your anger in the first place.

Anger management classes

You do not need to wait until something drastically bad happens before you do an anger management class, so do one. Do an online class. 95% of people with anger problems benefit from taking an anger management class in as little as two months. And anger management classes do not cost much; not even half as much as losing the respect of the people you care about, and the classes can be done very conveniently in the comfort of your home or office when they are done online.

But the bottom line is that if in your heart you feel as if your relationship is threatened because of anger an anger management class can help you get your anger under control and give you a real shot at saving your relationships.

You should seriously consider carrying out these anger management techniques, you will begin to see your anger start to come under control. Angry people sometimes don’t get what they need from their anger management techniques. As for you, start applying these tips, and get yourself controlled today.

Starter Clicks But Engine Does Not Turn Over – Tech in Trunk?

If the car’s starter clicks and the engine does not turn over, this could be caused by several things. The most common cause of clicking when the car is being started is a low battery. Most people would assume that the starter is bad if it only clicks, but low-voltage can cause the starter to make this sound.

The battery is the heart of the starting and electrical system. If the battery has been drained or has a weak cell, this can cause the starter to only click. Many times the battery could just been drained due to a door left slightly open, making the dome light stay on. Other times a vanity light or a phone charger could be left on. During my time as a master auto technician, I’ve had a trustworthy co-worker close me up in the trunk so I could make sure the trunk light went off when the trunk was closed!

In order to test the battery it must have a good charge. If the battery is not charged completely the tester will indicate that it needs to be charged before testing can proceed. The first step when checking the starter and electrical system is to make sure the battery is in good condition. Most parts stores will check batteries for free. Once it’s determined the battery is good the rest of the system can then be checked. Loose or corroded connections can also cause a clicking and for the car not to start.

Starter

The starter solenoid on many Ford vehicle’s is on the inner fender well, on most other vehicles the starter solenoid will be mounted on the starter. The clicking that is heard many times is the solenoid. But low-voltage either from a drained battery, bad battery or poor connections can cause this. Most of the time if the vehicle can be jump-started the starter is okay. This would also indicate that the connections to the starter are good.

Alternator

Once the vehicle is running the alternator output can be checked. If the alternator is not charging the battery, it will be drained during the process of starting the car and driving. When the alternator is checked, the voltage and amperage output can be measured. Also the diode pattern will be checked to make sure the alternator won’t drain the battery when the engine is turned off. In the past do-it-yourselfers could disconnect the battery while the vehicle is running to check the alternator, if the car kept running the alternator was good. Doing this on computerized vehicles can be harmful. If the battery is disconnected while a computerized vehicle is running the alternator output can increase sharply allowing excess voltage to spike the computer.

Battery

When purchasing a replacement battery the cold cranking amps required for the vehicle should be checked. It’s best to purchase a battery with more cold cranking amps than the minimum required. Also when purchasing a battery you should consider if you want maintenance free or not. If the battery is hard to access or has a cover then a maintenance free battery is preferred. For instance on some Chrysler Sebrings and Chevrolet Corvettes the battery is located behind an inner fender and on a Chevrolet SSR. the battery is located underneath the bed where the spare tire would normally go. If installing the battery yourself be sure to notice which side is positive and negative in case you were sold the incorrect battery.

Terminals

The terminals should be free of corrosion and should tighten up well. Sometimes especially on import vehicles the battery terminals will be very thin and can have hairline cracks causing a poor connection. Avoid forcing the battery terminals on by tapping them. The battery casing can be damaged causing a leak, if the battery acid seeps out it can cause fast corrosion. If the battery terminal bolts will not tighten, then replacing the terminals is recommended. When the connections are tight you should not be able to twist them by hand.

Novel Ideas – Six Unique Ways to Introduce a New Novel to Your Class

There is nothing more exciting than introducing students to a great piece of literature. Conversely, there is nothing more disappointing than students’ lack of enthusiasm about a book you truly love. Unfortunately, your fervor about a novel does not always translate into cheers and applause on the part of your students. Reading a novel requires a lot of investment. Even novels with high-action plots take a while to build momentum. How can you quickly bolster students’ interest at the start of a new book? Below are six sure-fire ways to get your class excited about a new novel.

PLOT PIECES. Divide students into groups. Assign each group one page from a different part of the novel. After they have read the page, ask students to compose a paragraph that outlines the plot of the novel. To do this, students will have to use context clues gleaned from their excerpt. Ask students to elect a representative from each group to present their plot summaries. Compare plot summaries and revisit these summaries at the end of the novel. Asking students to conjecture the plot of the novel will pique their interest in the book and help them extract information from context clues.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS. Ask students to read the first page of text silently. Next, ask for a volunteer to read the first page aloud. Then, ask students to write down as many things as possible that they have learned from the first page. Next, ask students to write down three questions they have based on their reading of the first page. This activity will help students read context clues and it will teach them to site text evidence when making generalizations about a novel.

COVER UP. Read a summary of the novel from the back cover, from the inside flaps, or from an Internet source. If you prefer to leave the novel a mystery, read an excerpt from a select part of the book. You can also print out this summary or excerpt so that students can refer to it. Next, ask students to design a cover based on information gleaned from the summary or excerpt. Allow students to explain their cover design. If you are reading a novel that is divided into parts, have students design a cover at the end of each part of the novel. Revisit cover designs at the completion of the novel and ask students to write a paragraph discussing their various understandings of the novel. This activity will help students chart the ways their understanding developed throughout the reading.

FRONT MATTER. Though students read novels throughout their schooling, very few are taught the importance of the title, copyright, and acknowledgments. The pages that contain this information are called the “front matter.” In small groups, ask students to explore the front matter of the novel. Instruct students to list 10 things they learned from these pages. In a more open-ended version of this activity, you can ask students to answer the following questions: What does the front matter tell you about what will and what will not be in this novel? What does the front matter tell you about the novel’s plot and themes? A good explanation of front matter can be found at Vox Clarus Press’ website. Just search “Vox Clarus Front Matter.”

LAST LINES. Instruct students to read the last sentence or the last paragraph of the novel silently. Next, ask someone to read these last lines aloud. From these last lines, ask students to draw a comic strip that shows the plot of the novel. Each frame of the comic strip should contain narrative and dialogue. The last frame of the comic strip should be based on information gleaned from the novel’s last lines. Thinking about the ending of the novel will whet students’ appetite for the actual plot.

BEGINNING AND ENDING. Ask students to read both the first sentence and the last sentence of the novel. Next, ask the students to construct a poem, paragraph, or short story using the first and last sentences of the novel as the first and last sentences for their writing. Your students’ writing should summarize what they think will be the plot of the novel. Revisit these summaries at the middle and at the end of the reading. In a reflective paragraph, ask students to compare their initial impressions to the novel’s actual plot and themes.

When beginning a new novel, consider using one of the above activities in your classroom. These activities provide a new lens through which to view your new novel. Starting the study of your novel in a unique and unpredictable way will bolster your students’ interest and engagement.

How to Calculate Window Tint Visible Light Transmission (VLT)

Window tinting films are measured in visible light transmission levels (or VLT). This means that when we discuss a particular film, be it for fitting to a car or any other application, we normally refer to it with it’s VLT value. VLT is measured in percentage ( % ), so if you hear about a tint product being referred to as a percentage, it is the VLT that defines that percentage value.

For example, a tinting film referred to as Charcoal 5% is a charcoal coloured tint with a VLT of 5% and likewise a film referred to as green 50% is a green coloured tint film with a VLT of 50%. But what does the number actually mean?

Well, in simple terms the VLT value is the percentage of visible light that will be allowed to travel through the window tinting film from the exterior face side of the film to the interior side. This means that a 5% film will only allow 5% light travel through and a 70% film will allow 70% light to travel. In effect, this means that lower VLT films will appear darker. For instance, it is normally 5% tints that we will see on limousines for privacy.

So, fitting a 5% tint to a window will allow 5% light to travel through the glass from outside to inside, right? NO! Because we need to take into consideration the actual VLT of the window before the tint is even installed. There is no such thing as a piece of glass, no matter how clear it appears, with a VLT of 100%. This is because glass naturally filters out a little bit of visible light.

Lets look at car window tinting as this is one area where we speak of VLT often due to the fact that many countries have laws in place limiting how dark car windows should be tinted. Most modern cars come from factory with windows reading a VLT somewhere between 72% and 78%, depending on manufacturer, model and country. Say, our example car’s windows read at 72% and we add a 50% window tinting film, what is the new and final VLT of our car’s windows after installation?

The sum is very simple: V1 x V2 = V3 (Where V1 is the original VLT of the glass before tinting, V2 is the VLT of the window tinting film and V3 is the final VLT value of the glass with tint film applied).

Our car’s windows original VLT = 72% and the tint = 50 %, thus V1 = 72 and V2 = 50

The sum is 72 x 0.50 giving us 36, which we will express as a percentage. So a window with an original VLT of 72% will then have a VLT of 36% after application of a 50% film.

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’.