Coke & Som Smith Photography & Travelogue

The China Years!

The impressive view of the Pudong Skyline as seen from the Bund on a warm August night in the summer of 2010


Our time in China was very well spent.  We captured sightings of many of China's most impressive and rare fauna.  While we where there, word of our luck got out and many publications featured our work.  Here are a few:

City Weekender:  Wild China:  Discovering China's Wildlife

Shanghai Family:  Desert Days:  An Expedition in Xinjiang

Shanghai Family:  Wild Panda Tracking

Shanghai Family:  Wild China





Spectacular Sichuan!


Ever since reading Jon Hall's trip report of his trip there in 2005, I have wanted to explore the wilderness of Sichuan to search out the spectacular species found there.  And after getting a small taste of the flora and fauna of the region when I was in Shaanxi's Qinling Mountains, I was even further drawn to complete this dream.  And in the early spring of 2013, I was able to put in a few short field days in Sichuan with great luck!  I saw Sichuan Takins, Chinese Gorals, Tufted Deer, Golden Snub-nosed Monkeys and much, much more!



Xinjiang Wildlife Expedition

During our spring break in 2013, the Smith family embarked on one of the most adventurous expeditions to date - two weeks in the great deserts of China's western provinces of Gansu and Xinjiang.  We spent time (some of it completely lost!) searching for wildlife in the Gobi, Kumtage and Taklamakan deserts with pretty good luck.  While we dipped on wild Bactrian Camels, we did see Przewalski's Horses, Kulan, three subspecies of Goitered Gazelles and a couple hundred Siberian Ibex!  Amazing trip!

 Qinghai Lake!  In Search of the Przewalski's Gazelle


After my failure to see the rare and endangered Przewalski's Gazelle in October, 2012, I was determined to visit the lake again for a re-do!  And when my boss at SAS decided to have a Qinghai trip, and Steven Shi suggested a scouting trip, I found my second chance!  What a great idea it was too. Not only did we find the expert who re-discovered the previously extinct species, he showed us where to find the last remaining members of this antelope species.  What a fantastic three-day adventure on the Tibetan Plateau and the shores of Qinghai Lake!


Wild Hong Kong!

After nearly thirty years of traveling to and through Hong Kong, this was the very first time we stopped to smell the roses! With an outstanding morning at Mai Po Wetlands Reserve and a spectacular cruise in Hong Kong's Pearl River Estuary, we were able to nail such impressive species as Indo-Pacific Humpbacked Dolphins, Black-faced Spoonbills and Pied Avocets by the 100's! And Cokie and Som got an iPad!


Amazing Anhui!

 After being in China now for two years, I am ashamed to say that we have only just discovered amazing Anhui Province.  Just five short hours away by car, we were able to explore Yellow Mountain (Huangshan), Guniujiang Nature Reserve and Hongcun ancient village.  We saw Yangtze River Finless Porpoises, Chinese Alligators, HuangShan Macaques and even a Red-hipped Squirrel!  What an amazing May Day holiday!

Wildlife of the Tibetan Plateau!

For years I wanted to visit the Tibetan Plateau and follow the footsteps of George Schaller. Year after year, plans were deflected for various reasons. But finally in the fall of 2012, I was able to visit Qinghai Province and spend time with such amazing species as Tibetan Antelopes, Gazelles, Wolves and Kiang! With at least 18 mammals credited to the expedition, it was a smashing success!



Poyang Lake 2012


We are now on multiple trips to Jiangxi Province's Poyang Lake to witness the wildlife spectacle that happens there every winter.  This trip, although it had its weather and lighting challenges, was spectacular with quality sightings of all four species of cranes along with many other species of birds.  We were joined by our buddy Alfred Olivas as well for a great eco-Thanksgiving for 2012!



Winter in Harbin!


It's basically a right of passage for expats living in China to go to Harbin in the winter to experience the Snow & Ice Festival.  The Smiths did just that during an icy February weekend in 2012!  The festival was a blast and strolling the boulevards of charming Harbin was a great way to spend a weekend for sure.  And seeing the spectacular Siberian Tigers was both troubling and amazing.  And "Unit 731" was....well...


Thanksgiving In Fujian! 

One evening while watching the BBC series, "Wild China" Som mentioned how interesting some strange circular mud structures in Fujian Province were.  After doing a bit of research, the next thing you know, we were there!  While seeing the phenomenal Hakka Tolou villages of Fujian we also trekked Meihuashan Nature Reserve and even scored some new mammals and birds!  And we got a chance to see some of the last surviving Amoy tigers in their natural habitat at the Meihuashan Tiger Breeding Center.


Well, after my first two trips to Beijing, I vowed to NEVER return, but here I was again, June 2011, in Beijing.  But this time I was with my wife, son, mom and dad and nephew Phil, so it was different.  Actually, while I may loathe Beijing the city, there is just too much history and amazing architecture there to simply not go...It is worth it for sure!

Inner Mongolia

In the spring of 2011, I had the unique pleasure of traveling to China's Inner Mongolia with our local chapter of Roots & Shoots.  Spending several days in this amazing province with a couple dozen outstanding young students and colleagues was a special treat and a wonderful travel experience.



Panda Tracking in the Qinling Mountains of Shaanxi Province!


There is little doubt that one of the most sought after mammal species for any mammal enthusiast is the Giant Panda.  It was a goal of mine for many decades to see one in the wild.  And on this expedition, the entire Smith family was fortunate to see one!  We spent a week in the spectacular Qinling Mountains in Foping Nature Reserve searching for Pandas and many other species.  This was truly an experience of a lifetime!

Wawu Shan Mountain & Sichuan!

May of 2011 was spent with 23 lovely 9th graders from SAS exploring Wawu Mountain and Sichuan in search of Red & Giant Pandas!  While the Red Pandas remain elusive, the trip was a spectacular journey through on of Sichuans most biodiverse and spectacular regions!





Wildlife Weekend in Yancheng, Jiangsu!


Just a few hours north of Shanghai, one can find an excellent wildlife destination in Yancheng.  Home to the wintering grounds for the spectacular Red-crowned Crane and to the last remaining herds of Pere David's Deer, Yancheng is an excellent way to spend a couple rainy winter days!  Enjoy this trip report from Yancheng, China.






Wildlife Expedition to Yunnan!


Chinese New Years may not be the best time to travel in China but it sure didn't  stop our incredible luck in finding our targets!  We had great times with the Black-crested Gibbons, Black-necked Cranes and the Yunnan Snub-nosed Monkeys of this amazing province.  Nine days with great guides and phenomenal experiences made this one of our best trips ever!




Birding Expedition to Poyang Lake, Jiangxi Province!


Our first major wildlife outing since arriving in China was a great success!  During our trip to Poyang Lake, one of the largests lakes in China, we witnessed a wildlife spectacle extraordinaire.  Thousands of Siberian Cranes and three other cranes species was an experience we will never forget!  And that's not to mention the hundreds of thousands of other birds seen in this phenomenal region.




Smith Family Favorites!



Shanghai has so much to offer.  Even after living here for two years, we still have so much to explore and discover.  This page has a few of the Smith family's favorite local destinations and activities.  Enjoy!  (We did!)



Chongming Island


Our first major adventure involved a day trip out in to the middle of the Yangtze River on to Chongming Island.  Chongming is home to Dongtan Wetlands Reserve.  This trip allowed us to experience one of Shanghai's "wildlife hotspots".  We had a great day exploring the reeds and habitats of Dongtan!




Rudong County

Rudong County, Nankou Town in specific, is located along China's coast and is home to a very impressive migration event every fall.  On our expedition to Rudong, we were privileged to see such amazing species as the Spoon-billed Sandpiper and Nordmann's Greenshank among others.


Shanghai City Lights!


We've now spent two years exploring the bowels of Shanghai.  Here are a few images of our favorite nighttime scences and sights here in amazing Shanghai!


 Shanghai Eats!


After two years in Shanghai, we've discovered some truly outstanding grub!  Here are some images of our favorite places to enjoy both local and exotic food here in Shanghai!