Right after college, I volunteered as an archaeological assistant for a summer in the Santa Fe National Forest in New Mexico. A lot of what we did was field survey work, which meant running transects of a given area of the forest. We'd spread our group out in a line with everyone 20 feet apart, following our compasses as close to due north as possible, and watching the ground for artifacts. Mostly, we found flakes of chert or obsidian left behind from someone making a spear point about 800 years earlier - the Archaic Tewa Indian equivalent of pencil shavings. Every once in a while, one of us would find an actual arrowhead. Or an empty whiskey bottle from the 1920s, or an elk skull, which was always fun.
So now, if you can, imagine the top of a dusty mesa in Rio Arriba county, covered with piñon pine and juniper scrub on the top, and only reachable by a three hours' bouncing drive up a deeply rutted four-wheel Forest Service road. The sky overhead is eyeball-achingly blue, and the nearest house is about 50 miles away as the crow flies, except that you're not a crow. Smell the red dirt and the sage yet? Okay, good. That experience has Absolutely Nothing to do with the part of China that I'm living in.
For a taste of that, why not take a look through the slide show below. The photos were all taken on October 1st, which is National Day (the anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic) here in China. It's a bit long, so you may want to make yourself comfortable. Grab a beer (or tea, to be more authentic) and settle down for a bit. On our photo walk last Saturday, I took almost 300 photos, and the slide show has about 130 of them. They don't all work equally well as perfect photos, but taken together, they make for an interesting sampling of the culture that I've been lucky enough to call home for the past two years.
Oh, and make sure you watch in full screen mode. (should be a button on the bottom right.) Happy transecting!