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Deep Asia:


Life in a Special Zone


September 10, 2004


A couple of months ago, Hailan and I took a walk from the Buddhist vegetarian restaurant back to our place.  As often happens in Shenzhen, we ran out of road while walking through a park, and had to bust our way through some bushes.  About three steps in, she froze and said: "James!  I'm afraid of snakes!"  I laughed, and said this is Guangdong--all the snakes had been eaten!  I just figured she wanted me to carry her (which I promptly did) because she was wearing white pants.

A week or so later, I saw this story in the Shenzhen Daily:

Summer brings out more snakes
2004/07/22 00:45 

SUMMER is a time of frequent snakebite. The Shenzhen Traditional Chinese Hospital are treating two to four cases of snakebite each day.

The most common snake bites were by bamboo snakes, cobras and brait snakes, according to Zeng Zhongyi, director of the snakebite treatment center at the hospital.

Shenzhen is in a subtropical zone where it is hot and damp in summer. The climate and surrounding mountains are an ideal environment for snakes.

The most dangerous period is from May to October when snakes are most active, particularly at dusk. People are advised to avoid areas with long grass where snakes are most likely to be found.

Anyone bitten by a snake should seek emergency treatment at a hospital as soon as possible after first aid measures such washing the wound, squeezing out the poisoned blood and binding the body part near the wound on the side closest to the heart.  (Christopher Wen)

My first thought was: Cobras?!  In Shenzhen?  Then I checked on the other two.  I suspect that "brait" should be "krait," as the brait is a sea snake--not likely to bite many people--and this page on venomous snakes in Taiwan lists the "banded krait" along with the cobra and the bamboo snake, among others.  (Did you know there are rattlesnakes in Taiwan?)  (Geek that I am, I confirmed on a forum that the krait lives in this region.)

Whatever the name, poisonous snakes are no fun.

The reason I'm writing about this today is that I ran across a reference to this article on the Big White Guy's homepage, and it reminded me of the other one.

Cobra found in Hong Kong park
(The Associated Press)

A highly poisonous Chinese cobra mysteriously turned up in a downtown Hong Kong park, sparking a massive search before it was later found dead.

A zoologist said the snake, treated as a delicacy by local gourmets, may have escaped from a restaurant.

Authorities called in experts after a man spotted the snake on Monday in downtown Victoria Park, said a police spokeswoman.

The area was cordoned off before the reptile was found dead, the South China Morning Post reported yesterday.

The newspaper identified the snake as a Chinese cobra, which can deliver life-threatening bites and is commonly found in rural parts of Hong Kong.

The snakes can grow to 2 meters in length.

Gary Ades, senior manager of the Kadoorie Farm & Botanic Garden research institute, said it is unusual to find snakes "in the center of the concrete jungle."

"Most of the snakes that appear in the city are either escapees from nearby snake restaurants or abandoned pets," Ades said.

I hope that, as autumn comes, the snakes will retire from the field.

And speaking of fields: Has Olympic success spoiled the Chinese?  The local paper ran this article today, claiming that the Chinese invented soccer.  Funny, the second paragraph of this history of soccer suggests another--perhaps more controversial-- origin.  Re-match, anyone?


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