Tobacco, Tea and an Asian Monsoon


Yunnan’s most popular past time smoking tobacco. Local with water pipe.

The landscape has become one large dense jungle. With strength, plots are cleared away for tobacco, rice and corn. I watch as locals spend hours working in the field, under a hot humid sun, standing bare foot in mud.  I am invited for lunch and given a bowl of rice, some salted vegetables.Cigarettes pass from hand to hand to mine, a smile and then a puff. A cup of Pu’er fermented tea. The sky grows dark, thunder, then a strong down pour. Lightning flashes. The road becomes one large mud puddle, and the mountains begin to wash away, dirt moves, rocks tumble and cars stop. I am on the remotest of roads heading toward the Laos border. If it is not food or tobacco growing then it is tea as I am about 200 km from the famous city of Pu’Er (one of China’s most popular teas sold in small to large “cakes”).


Locals and dog sorting tobacco for smoke house.


Human bush


This lady was carrying a large stack of invasive ferns 3 km home to be used as fuel.


Rubber tree. First time seeing one of these. The sap is collected below in a small bucket. The dry sap is rubber, which makes me wonder why we don’t have more white tires.


Local roadside pineapples. So sweet and ripe that you can eat the heart.


Long muddy puddles full of leeches. I gather speed, lift my feet in the air and hope that there are no deep spots. You are actually supposed to “push” a leech off with your finger nails rather than use a lighter, which may result in blood poisoning.




2 thoughts on “Tobacco, Tea and an Asian Monsoon

  1. How interesting Julian. The world is full of wondrous places. Thanks for allowing me to follow along. We are experiencing lots of wildfires in the Sierra and Big Sur. Lots of red sunsets and smokey air. It has been very hot. Looking forward to fall. Best wishes, Carla

    • I couldn’t agree with you more. I always think of the oak groves in upper foothills of Fresno as the most beautiful place during the fall season. The large bare trees surrounded by red and yellow leaves. Just know that although exotic and beautiful out here I miss home, and Shaver Lake.

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