Daniel Zeendeer, an official at the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, and has lived in Beijing and Yunnan for 4 years. He says the landscape and cultural features are the soul of a city and traveling is a way of communicating between tourists and the city. He hopes to live out his life in the town of Erhai in Yunnan after he retires, since its snow-covered mountains and lake remind him of home.
Erhai Lake, which is located in the west of China's Yunnan Province, is the second largest fresh lake in Yunnan. The shape of the lake is like that of a person's ear, hence its name, which is pronounced "Er" in Chinese.
A Happy Life in Yunnan
Zeendeer first came to Yunnan in 1989 as a German teacher at Kunming University. During those 2 years as a teacher, he became used to wandering the streets and alleys of Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province. He was deeply fascinated with the beautiful Dian Lake, the quaint old houses, its unique ethnic style and the Buddhist culture.
Despite the beautiful scenery, Zeendeer still missed the flavor of home. To his surprise, he happened to find a type of milk cake in the Yunnan ethnic minority areas, which is very similar to the cheese in his hometown. Besides milk cake, the diverse mushrooms in Yunnan also provided Zeendeer with wonderful tastes.
Kunming is a charming city. It attracts people from all over the world and offers them a friendly atmosphere to enjoy life. Zeendeer made many Chinese friends in Kunming and still keeps in touch with 7 of them.
One of Zeendeer's Swiss friends decided to pass up the opportunity to return home and wound up settling down in Kunming after a short time while working here. He has since opened a Swiss restaurant while enjoying a leisurely life in Kunming. The reason why he loves Kunming is its friendly people and the snow-covered mountains and lake which remind him of home.
Modern Life in Beijing
The second time Zeendeer lived in China was in 2000 as a Swiss Embassy cultural attaché. Zeendeer described Beijing as a super modern city comparable with New York City. His office was on the 28th floor of the modern SOHO building located in Beijing's business center.
Even Zeendeer admires the development of Beijing; however, lines of skyscrapers, convenient transportation networks, top shopping malls and large-scale culture facilities are not the most attractive things for him. By contrast, the historical sites impress him the most. He sometimes feels regret over the disappearance of the old alleyways.
He insists consideration should be given to both the urban modernization and the protection of historical sites. He gave Bern (a city in Sweden) as an example, a city which has successfully realized its development without sacrificing the protection of its historical sites. The Bern government established strict policies: citizens in the old town can make interior renovations, while exterior renovations are forbidden. He hopes Beijing can implement similar rules when it rebuilds its old parts of the city.