INSIDE THE GREENHOUSE | Re-telling climate change stories

Sleeping Buddha and Cheng Bang coffee


Rebecca Safran

The rains came in yesterday afternoon. We were able to fully survey about 80 different locations in another small village within the city in the morning. This village was less bustling than the other and some of the buildings seem as if they are crumbling into the ground. The outer layer of mud covering many of the walls is falling off, exposing the tidy rows of bricks beneath them. Many of the homes are abandoned. We talked to a man who remembered Sheela and invited us into his home. Inside, he had all of the conveniences of modern living in his 3-room apartment: a fridge, large flat screen television, a wood burning stove and nice furniture. He kindly offered us tea and invited us back to catch his swallows in the evening. He said that his village would not be torn down which is lucky for him and his family. He also told us that the economy was not good in the past year – the reason why so many of the homes around him were empty.

There were lots of swallows around this smaller village though they don’t seem to be as settled in as the ones we visited a few days earlier in the next village over (less than 1 km away). The birds are still collecting mud and building their nests. We’ll give them another day or two to settle in and concentrate our efforts on catching the birds in another location before coming back here.

By 2 pm we had accomplished all we could despite the weather and had lunch and visited the Zhangye Buddha Temple – just a short walk from our hotel but another world entirely. The Gansu Province is not far from the birthplace of Buddhism. This temple was constructed about a thousand years ago. After touring various buildings within the temple site we hid out at Cheng Bang Coffee where we enjoyed a few lattes – a very rare treat!

The day ahead for us is a busy one – we will spend the day and a good part of tonight catching as many birds as possible! Wish us luck!