SDSU 2019 China Ag Travel

Monday, May 20, 2019

May 19
We have reached our last full day in China, and the overall emotions of the group are mixed. Many are excited to go back to the simple luxuries the United States has to offer like toilet paper in stalls, safe tap water to drink, and other things like that. On the other hand, it has been an amazing cultural experience filled with new food, sites, and a definite language barrier.  

To start the day off, we went to Tian'anmen Square. It is the largest city square in the world, covering an impressive 110 acres of land. While there, we saw many soldiers and officers patrolling the site 24/7, which was something very different compared to what we might see in America. The largest building in the square was called the Heavenly Peaceful Gate in English, and they also had an entire building to honor Chairman Mao's burial site. He is known as the Father of China to the locals. We were surrounded by countless other tourists and found out that over 100,000 visitors go to Tian'anmen Square every day. 

After Tian'anmen Square, we headed to the Forbidden City. There was a park right outside the city with many locals doing group tai chi surrounded by trees that were over 200 years old.  The Forbidden City is home to 1.8 million ancient treasurers of China's history from past dynasties. The Home of Supreme Harmony building also has 13,844 painted and carved dragons on it from top to bottom. One piece of information we learned during this tour was about the Empress and how she slept on a stone pillow with a hole in it so that she could hear when people would try to come in to kill or harm her.

Our entire group then got a chance to take a rickshaw ride around the ancient Huotong Beijing neighborhood. Rickshaws are bicycles with 2-person carts in the back to ride on. They are mostly powered by the person pedaling but sometimes will have a small motor to assist them. Lunch was provided to us at a local villager's home. In their courtyard, they had birds, grasshoppers, and even crickets in small cages that they kept as pets. It was very cool to see the homes they live in, and we learned that the small 4-room homes are worth at least $2 million (USD) each! 

Next we visited the Earthly Peaceful Gate where the bell tower signified the morning and the drum tower let people know the work day was done. This is where the time was tracked in the days before technological time keeping. After climbing a wall of steps that seemed comparable to The Great Wall, we got to see the drums that went off every 12 hours to signal that it was time for the farmers to come back to the village. One drum was an original drum dating back to the Ming Dynasty. After a short break, our next adventure was to an acrobatic show. At the show, we got to see many talented individuals perform, with one of the acts including five girls hanging from a ball spinning at a rapid speed in the air.
To end the last full day in China, we had one of our best meals, Peking duck. The meal included many common Chinese side dishes and the duck. The duck took days of roasting, and the result was tender, juicy meat. We were able to make tacos out of the duck, and it was a favorite for several in our group. Because it was such a delicious meal, this was definitely the "wow" moment of our day!
 Acrobatic show
 Gift from Michelle
 In front of the Forbidden City
 Inside Forbidden City
 Inside Forbidden City
 New friends at Tianemann Square
 Peking duck
 Pet cricket
 Rickshaw ride

Tai Chi

May 18 

We started the third day in Beijing at a refreshing stop at a traditional tea house. We were able to taste five different black and green teas there. The top two favorites of the group were Ginseng tea which helps with energy and immunity and a hibiscus dried fruit tea which is good for digestion. We had two different cups we had when trying the teas, the smell cup and the sip cup. Tea was poured into the smell cup, then we had to set the sip cup directly over the top of the small cup making both cups look like a small mushroom. Next we flipped the cups over which transferred the tea from the smell cup to the sip cup.  After smelling the cup you could rub the outside on your skin because it helps with blood circulation. Typically you take three sips to finish your tea, a sip for happiness, good luck and longevity. To test if the water is hot enough they used the tea baby. The baby will pee if the tea is hot enough and won't do anything if it is not. The phrase they use is "No pee, no tea". 

After the tea house, we drove a little over an hour to get Pizza Hut, which was a group favorite for sure. It was great to finally eat American food! We had 4 different types of pizza, as well as shrimp, squid, and chicken. The food just kept coming! Then we hopped back onto the bus with nice, full stomachs. 

Next we visited the China International Economic and Trade Show where companies from all across China market their products and debut new designs. There were so many different booths and products on display, along with candy and free samples! It’s safe to say that we all found something to enjoy.

We then got to go to the highlight of the day, the Silk Market. There were floors of booths, souvenirs and knock off items. We enjoyed getting to bargain with the shop keepers and experience that aspect of their culture. At the end of the day we all had some good items and great stories. It’s hard to believe that tomorrow will be our last full day here in China!
 At the Expo
 McDonald's delivery
 New technology
 Old technology
 Rock stars
 Seen it all
 Snow skiing in China
Tea tasting

Friday, May 17, 2019

This morning we visited the Hospital of Femur Head Necrosis in Beijing. This hospital was built in 1997 and has around 200 beds, half of the beds are currently occupied. They have treated 18,000 cases so far from 45 countries and all of China. They specialize in late-stage femur head necrosis. We started our tour with visiting their diagnostic rooms. They showed us real examples of diseased hip joints. They use many different types of treatment including acupuncture, massage, electric stimulation and herbal medicine. One of the treatment rooms we visited provided food baths to help with stimulation. The average cost to stay at the hospital is 30-70 rmb per day ($4.50-$10.67). The Hospital of Femur Head Necrosis received the award by the Chinese government as one of the 10 Science and Technology Achievement in the field of TCM. They told us their mission in the treatment is to preserve intact hip bone, remove dead bones to regenerate new bones. 

After the hospital visit, we went to the Great Wall of China. We were very lucky and had overcast weather when we climbed the wall. The climb to the top took over an hour to reach the top of the wall where they allowed us to go due to the reconstruction of the wall. We walked over 115 flights of stairs to the top. The sights were unbelievable and truly worth the sweat! The steps on the wall are different heights which made the hike a little difficult. For lunch, we visited a Jade Factory and they briefly explained how they made it their jewelry. For the 2008 Olympics, the medals had a little Jade in them. We got to walk around the jewelry and had a wonderful lunch. 

After lunch, we travelled to the China Agricultural University Ministry of Agriculture Feed Industry Center. When we first got off the bus, we were assigned a Chinese student partner who was responsible for guiding us through the tour. All of the people we met were graduate and PhD students studying swine nutrition. We first toured the Feed Museum. They had 1209 feed ingredients on display and many interactive monitors including a game to test how well certain species do with different rations of feed. After the museum tour, we had dinner with the students. There were some interesting food choices including duck blood and beef stomach. We walked around campus after dinner and found some students playing basketball. We shot some hoops and weren’t doing well, so we left and found some ping pong tables. We had a lot of fun playing against the Chinese students. Every interaction with students has been amazing, we have learned so much from them and hope to maintain relationships after returning to the states.

 A gift
 Feed Museum
 Femur Head Hospital
 Go Big, Go Blue, Go Jacks!
 Great Wall heros
 Great Wall
Jade factory

Thursday, May 16, 2019

                We started our first day in Beijing with some much-needed extra sleep! Our first stop of the day was a cherry farm. The farm's main product was cherries but it also had apples, goats, and bees. The bee hives were used to pollinate the trees, but are not large enough to produce honey to sell. Half the cherry trees were inside a large green house while half were outside, so the cherries would be ready at different times and the farm would have a longer season to sell them. We even got to try a few ourselves! We always thought the Washington state cherries were the best in the world, but China is a close second.

                We headed to a CP Group laying operation that was home to 3 million laying hens. We were easily able to view every aspect of egg production because of the glass windows into the laying barns, conveyer system, and egg processing lines. These windows made sure we got a good view without the risk of spreading diseases to the animals, or taking any diseases home with us. The operation produces about 167,000 dozen eggs per day. According to our tour guide Michelle, who is a Beijing resident, China does not have a preference between white or brown eggs, but this CP laying unit produced all brown eggs. We found that CP Group runs all their laying operations under a cooperative business model very similar to some farm businesses in the U.S.  

                The highlight of this visit was the crocodile facility on the farm. This operation was different from most U.S. chicken production because the deceased chickens and pigs from other CP farm sites are fed to the crocodiles located on the same operation as the chickens. The 4,000 crocodiles were seperated in different groups by age. They were fed every other day in the afternoon. These crocodiles are later sold as meat, medicine, and crocodile leather products. This is a way for CP to be environmentally friendly in dealing with mortalities on their farms.

                Our last stop before supper was the Hope Well soybean crushing plant. This plant was the headquarters of the company and one of three crushing facilities that it runs. The company produces soybean oil with a small section of soybean meal for feed, but also acts as a distributor for other types of oils like canola, peanut, and walnut oil. Some of the oils on the shelf in their showroom were several different types mixed together in one bottle. In China, some consumers think the different oils offer different nutritional value and prefer a mix. Soybean oil is the number one oil used by consumers, with palm oil and canola oil as second and third. Unlike some other feed mills we have seen in China, Hope Well sends their soybean meal out on train cars in bulk instead of in 40 kg bags. The plant we visited processes 8,000 tons of soybeans from the US and Brazil every day, and soybean oil is packaged in 1, 2.5, and 5 gallon containers for cooking. 
              After a quick noodle supper, we are finished with our first day in Beijing! We have really enjoyed our time so far and are looking forward to tomorrow when we climb the Great Wall.

 Five gallons of oil
 Feedmill and barns
 Future Jackrabbits
 In and out cherries
 Market day
 Mortality removal
 Moving eggs
 SBM leaving
 Soy oil
Soybean storage

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

                We started the day with a hearty breakfast at the hotel and then we were off to visit the Inner Mongolia Agricultural University.  It has been known as "the garden school" for many years by the local people due to the large amount of trees and shrubs on campus.  This university offers 20 different majors and is home to around 32,000 students.  The Veterinary program has 1200 students who will graduate after 5 years and there are another 1200 students in the 4 year Animal Science Program.  

                Upon arrival we first visited the Animal Pathology Specimen room. This room was filled to the brim with jars of preserved organ and tissue samples. Recently the program obtained a small collection of wildlife specimen that will further assist with studying diseases. The university houses the largest collection of specimen in all of China with around 150,000 samples. Students and professors alike use the room for classroom and study purposes.  We also had the opportunity to chat with several students from the program. One student came from a village that was over 1000 kilometers away and takes 16 hours by train to visit. The only time she visits home is during Spring Festival. Even during the summer recess, students stay on campus to work internships and study with their tutors.  She is studying Animal Science with hopes of specializing in genetic breeding.  Growing up on a small corn and livestock farm, she knew animals were going to be her passion.  It is her dream to contribute to the meat industry by creating safe and healthy protein choices for a rapidly growing country that consumes massive amounts of meat.  

                From there the group went to a classroom where the SDSU students were split into 5 groups and pared with 10 Chinese students. Introductions were made by Dr. Thaler and Dr. Clay, then several local students gave a presentation about their daily life and information about the university. Next we had 20 minutes of conversation with the students. Lots of interesting and fun questions were exchanged between everyone. One of the students told me that this was the first time any English speaking visitors had come to the university, so they were very eager to practice their English skills with us. Chinese students had also prepared gifts for us. The gifts ranged from notebooks, beef jerky, milk candies and even traditional Mongolian headbands. From there we went to the cafeteria where everyone was able to order food and eat together. The local students were very excited to show us their favorite meals. They were even nice enough to pay for our lunch.  After finishing up our dishes everyone took selfies before parting ways.  

                After a short 20 minute drive from the university, we arrived at the Inner Mongolian History Museum. We quickly created a meeting point and began to explore the History of the province. Within the museum, there were three floor. Each floor had 2-4 individual displays. The displays were a walk through style with figures, pictures, and descriptions. Walking through the first floor, it is very noticeable that Inner Mongolians value their land and nature.  Many displays show off the wildlife and natural beauty they possess in their region. The first floor also had a display for the aerospace program in China. Inner Mongolia was used by China for the launching of most of their spacecraft. The first spacecraft that was launched was a 173 kg, one meter diameter satellite. It was launched in 1970 and was used for broadcasting of radio waves. The aerospace program was originally created to increase their defenses.  

                The second floor focused mainly on the history of Mongolians. The Mongolians were first recognized as a race in the 7th century. The Mongolians were created when several tribes in the region decided to merge. Their first noble ruler emerged in the 13th century. His name was Genghis Khan. He modernized the Mongolians as well as made them a military force. Genghis died in his 50s and his sons took over. His sons made Mongolia cover most of Asia through various military expeditions. After being nomadic since the 7th century, the Mongolians settled in the region they are known to inhabit today. After exploring the history of the region, we ventured up to the 3rd floor. It consisted of artifacts and various historical pieces from the history of Inner Mongolia. After two hours of exploring the museum, the crew returned to the bus and made their way to the airport for the flight to Beijing.

First meeting
 Lunch time
 New friends
Whole group

May 14

Today we started another gorgeous morning in Huhhot, after our five star breakfast, all 21 of us and our tour guides loaded the bus.  Enroute to the herdsman’s home, we experienced many more rough roads of Huhhot. The scenery along the way was very different then what we have grown used to seeing in China so far. Many fields were in sight as farmers were busy planting their potatoes, with equipment comparable in size to that used in the 1960s. We also drove through the blue mountains on narrow roads which seemed almost unreal, seeing many animals along the way including Angora goats. Once past the mountains, we reached the rolling hill and pasture land of the herdsman, comparable to western South Dakota. The climate was very comparable as well, windy and temperatures ranging from -30 to 90 degrees throughout the year. 

Once at the village of Yurts we partook in drinking the local milk tea. The locals drink the tea to help get their daily vitamins and to settle their stomachs. It was very interesting because we also got to add millet and sugar to the tea. Along with the tea we got some local cheese, cookies, and butter. The village was also home to many animals including horses, sheep, and chickens. One interesting fact we learned is that they don't have identification for their animals; they just know whose they are by the way they look. The exception is horses as they get a brand on their hind quarters. The home is very popular for tourists in the summer when people from south China come to visit. All of the village Yurts are booked for June, July and August.               

We left the farm with the Yurts and headed up the hill to the local temple.  The local people use the temple to pray for good weather - mostly rain.  We each took a rock to place at the temple and walked around the stone structure 3 times before putting our rock on the structure.  We were told this would make our dreams come true! 

We left the temple for a tourist place where we were served a traditional roasted Mongolian Lamb dinner. We started with vegetable dishes, then progressed to pork and chicken dishes culminating in a fully roasted lamb. This was served with 2 sauces. Very delicious! We were greeted by Mongolian singers who blessed our arrival and lunch with song. We left the lunch area and headed to another tourist attraction that included seeing local animals, and participating in Mongolian activities. We built a hut, played tug of war, tried our hand at archery, and so much more! We ended our visit with a traditional milk tea and Chinese cookies - they tasted a lot like pretzels without the salt. 

The group ended the day with a two hour drive back to our hotel in Huhhot, and another great meal. 

 Lamb lunch
 Planting potatoes
 Roasted lamb
Yurt building

Monday, May 13, 2019

Starting our first day in Hohot with a nice cool morning and clear blue skies was a welcome sight after the dust storm in Xi'an! We boarded the bus with our tour guides Michelle and Sandra along with Dr. Keith Erlandson of CP and his colleague Mr. Tiger.  We quickly realized that Mongolian roads feature speed bumps instead of stop signs at intersections, making for a bumpy ride. However, our visit to the CP Group's Modern Agriculture and Green Development Project was definitely worth it. CP is a global conglomerate that deals with many different industries including: poultry, dairy, aquaculture, swine production, crop production, pet foods, restaurants, automotive, manufacturing, and telecommunications. The CP Group's scale of operation is approximately four times larger than Cargill. We attended a presentation outlaying their project to create a fully integrated vertical system combining everything from the farm to the fork. Their goal is to drive agricultural industrialization by producing all their own feed to feed their pigs and then slaughtering and processing those animals to retail the products in CP Group stores. CP Group is also looking to produce fruits, vegetables, and many other products.  We also led a discussion on the CP Group's management practices in their sow farms and finisher operations. Then we had lunch and tried out Mongolian mutton and local potatoes which were a big hit with our group! 

After lunch, we toured the Mengniu Dairy Headquarters where their administrative staff manages the 58 facilities in China and more than 40,000 employees. The company was established in 1999 and established this facility in 2008. We also learned that before 2002, their warehouse was used to store missiles for the Chinese military! The Mengniu Dairy headquarters also contains a fully automated dairy processing and packaging facility along with a fully automated warehouse. The facility produces mostly liquid-milk products and can handle up to 608 metric tons of milk per day. At the end of our tour, we got to try out some of the Mengniu Dairy ice cream products and satisfy our chocolate craving. 

Next our group toured the Fuyuan International Dairy group. This company operates 14 facilities across China. The dairy that we toured could hold up to 10,000 head but only held 6,000 cows and operated a 72-stall rotary milking parlor. Currently, 2,500 of the cows were lactating and are milked three times per day.  

Our next stop was supper where we tried out the local special called hot-pots. Each of us had a pot with one of four broths and we cooked all manner of tasty items like shrimp, crab, fish, squid, vegetables, beef, mutton, sausage, eggs, dumplings, noodles and so much more! It’s safe to say that our first dinner in Mongolia was a very memorable experience.
 CP entry
 Dairy plant
 Farm ground
 Hot pot line
 Hot pot
 Ice cream bars
 Ice cream
Large dairy