Header picture. Go to bottom of page.
Template picture

Somewhere in Yunnan, China

Template picture

Somewhere in Yunnan, China

The Giants Republic 2023

Woodstove in the old pig shed

The wood stove in the old pig shed used for the first time. Chef in charge Xu Yings mother. Note Xu Yings artwork adoring the walls

Since the old pig sheds have been renovated we have a lot of extra space. What we have as well is an enormous heap of firewood so we got a woodstove, constructed a chimney from left over metal from the same building and now we can cook on wood.

Click here for a video clip on chopping up the firewood and here for the video clip of the chicken cooking.

Food preparation
The chef preparing the ingredients
Chopping wood
Preparing the firewood for the stove
Woodstove with chimney
The new woodstove with homemade chimney
Now in use and ready for the pictures

As you can see it is now time for warm coats and scarfs and also we are inside the top of the building is completely open. So the inauguration party of the woodstove probably will be the last event for this year.

The chicken cooking on the woodstove
Having a BBQ and woodstove cooked chicken inside the pig shed

Autum harvest

The harvest

Autumn is clearly here and it was time to harvest the last items and prepare the garden for the winter. We never intended to grow potatoes but last year we must have left some potatoes in the ground that had grown there from potatoes we had planted in 2021. This is the first year we have a passion fruit and it supplied us with quite some fruits. Last year there were enormous amounts of Chayote / Buddha fists. This year they do very badly, there are few fruits and most of those are crooked. The pumpkins were very disappointing as well.

The last Chayote / Buddha fists hanging from the pizza hut
This six centimetre big monster was found on one of the trees surrounding the place. Looks it put a fur coat on as well

Drawer cabinet finally finished

It took a while but after eight months work the drawer cabinet is finally finished and transported to our house in Kunming.

A satisfied maker

Pig shed wall

Wall panorama
Panoramic picture of the pig shed wall
The new lintels over the doors

Finally the wall of the pig shed has been finished. The wall was levelled out and new reinforced concrete lintels cast over the doors. A row of hollow blocks was placed on their sides to top off the wall and make the transition from wall to no wall a bit smoother.

Mark slicing the ham we received to top off the pizzas that closed off another weekend at the Giants Republic

Then more netting was installed so plants can grow up to it. More ivy has been planted to cover the remaining wall.

Watering all these succulents in their small pots inside was a nightmare so they have been placed in the old pig feeding trough outside
This is an invasive species of gourd. It climbed in over our outside wall. For punishment we have eaten it

Drawer cabinet

The big drawer cabinet finally finished and awaiting transportation
furniture in car
And after removing the seats it could be loaded in the car

Xu family party

The sky just before the downpour

Rain and sunshine

At the end of the National Day Golden week holiday we held a party for the Xu part of the family.

The whole week it had been perfect weather but at this day we got an enormous downpour. Luckily it started after we had set up things and just after our first guest arrived it stopped. Anyway this was the first time that we hosted our guest inside for some time.

Luckily the rain stopped soon after and we could go outside again as shown in the group picture below.

Xu Ying rushing out to welcome our first guest in the pouring rain
Family portrait
Group picture at our thoroughly watered roof garden

Ribs and duck

303 1
303 2
303 3
Slow cooking in the drum BBQ is now a Giants Republic tradition. It requires patience and several batches of charcoal to keep the process going for four hours. This time a duck joined the ribs.
Drum BBQ
Xu Yings mother with the slow cooked duck

Slow cooked ribs, with or without duck, is now a fixed Giants Republic tradition.

This time a duck joined the ribs in the drum BBQ.

And also Xu Ying is a vegetarian she liked the sound of the chopping up of the duck by her mother so much that she made a recording of it.

Same duck after chopping it up
Having fun with the ribs
Finally the BBQ
Mother and daughter and some stuff

National day party

National day
Mooncakes and Xu Ying's creations
Colleagues with dogs and kid

For the National Day party Xu Ying invited her law firm colleagues who came with their dogs, kid and men in black.

Man in black
And of course Puer tea

As per tradition on National day there is moon cake and Puer tea is a law firm tradition.

Miss rabbit
Miss rabbit

As per Chinese tradition a lot of eating and drinking is done.

People brought giant melons and even a complete dried ham.

Mango pudding
Mango pudding
Ribs 1
Fixing the ribs to the pegs


Ribs 2
The final result

Quickly becoming a Giants Republic tradition the slow cooked ribs from the drum BBQ.

Ribs 3
Hanging the ribs in the drum BBQ
Stripping 1
Man in black stripping the ribs
Stripping 2
Finishing the job
And finally the BBQ


Drawers 1
Progress is slow but
Drawers 2
Half the drawers done

Levelling the wall and flowerbed

Mark drilling the perforations in the concrete floor in order to remove the concrete

One of the tasks still to do was finishing the wall of the pig sheds. After levelling the wall and construction of new door lintels the final row of hollow blocks could be places. The whole thing is topped off with netting for the plants to climb on.

Some of the concrete floor had to be removed as well to create flower beds for the climbing plants.

Levelling the wall
Levelling the wall

Summer party

Ribs. Big ribs

To celebrate the summer and the completion of the renovation (And to show off their painting skills) a party was called for family and friends and friends of friends.

Playing the steel tongue drum

As one can see in these pictures a lot of time was spend one China's number one pass time which is eating. But now we have number two pass time as well which is playing Mahjong.

And some music was made.

Even the three-wheeler which was sitting idle in the back shed was brought out of retirement and given a spin.

The ribs
The duck
Lotus Cake
Lotus cake
Nut Cake
Nuts and fruit cake
This one was lucky that there was already a duck in the oven
The ribs were big enough to share
3W 1
Taking the dust of the three-wheeler
3W 2
Driving on the parking lot of the neighbours

Even the three-wheeler was taken out of the shed and taken for a spin. Go here for a video clip of the drive.

3W 3
Hitting the road
3W 4
Xu Ying's first drive

Painting completed

Stairs 1
The freshly painted walls with the paintings returned
Stairs 2
Xu Ying having applied the finishing touch

No more rubbish room

Rubbish room 1
The new form of the rubbish room

As last part of the renovation the "rubbish room" was cleared out and tidied up With the completion of the bathroom and this room the renovation is now officially completed.

Rubbish room 2
Even with floral decoration

Problem is now were to put the rubbish. OK some stuff could be given away and is now filling other people's rubbish room.

Furniture making

Cabinet 1
The drawer cabinet frame now with back and side panels and wheels
Cabinet 2
The damaged side panel

Furniture making encountered a setback because I accidently used the wrong nails when building up the side walls and the side panels were damage. This stupid mistake set back work for two weeks while restoring the damage by slowly filling the holes with paint.

Cabinet 3
Note that the workbench is covered with plastic roof sheets because the roof leaked
Cabinet 4
The blue squares that will cover the front of the drawers are laying ready for months now in the painting room

Beds and mosquito nets

Beds with mosquito nets in the connected rooms

Xu Ying and her mother did not only spend a lot of time painting one upstairs room and the stairwell but turned as well the "rubbish room" in to a proper guest room.

Guest room
The former rubbish room is transformed into a guest room

And since she is rather obsessed by any insects she decided to outfit every bed with a mosquito net.

The wall

pig shed wall 1
Step one: clearing the protruding wall and door frame
pig shed wall 3
Wall completed but hardly visible in the pouring rain
pig shed wall 2
Step two: start filling the gap. Two and a half block in a day

The third pig shed had an ugly protruding wall and a rotten door (as can be seen here and here ). Since this door is no longer needed we decided to close the door space and let the ivy cover the concrete blocks.

Removing the blocks was easy because a very poor mortar was used when it was build but cleaning the blocks to be reused and levelling the foundation that is made of very hard flint stone took some time. Working by myself goes slow and the first build didn't get further than two and a half block.

From then on every day one or two rows of blocks were added in the door gap. The last 21 blocks, over the full width of the third shed, went faster with the help of Brian, Cornelia and Mark.

Harvest season

Passion fruits
Passion fruits

After a hot spring and early summer the time arrived to harvest our grapes and passion fruits.

The grapes were limited to two small bunches and frankly not very tasty. The passiflora produced 14 passion fruits and they were remarkably fragrant.

Harvesting the grapes
Harvesting the grapes


Painting 1
Xu Ying and her mother painting an upstairs room

Paint and coffee

Xu Ying and her mother and aunt embarked on a painting spree in the Giants Republic painting walls and ceilings which the president of the republic refused to paint.

Meanwhile the president applied his painting skills elsewhere in exchange of real coffee.

Painting 2
The wiicup coffee shop in Kunming


Toilet 1
After all water and drainage pipes had been installed the wall was covered in plastic roof sheets
toilet 2
The bathroom floor was far from perfect but with lots of plaster and paint it is now useable
Finished toilet
The finished bathroom


After two years we finally have our own bathroom at the Giants Republic

When we arrived the outside squatting toilet was shared with the neighbours and we had a simple tap stand outside with no drain. Now we have a real bathroom with toilet and shower (OK limited hot water) and a kitchen sink in the actual kitchen in addition to the kitchen sink outside.

The dirty wall, which you can see reflected in the mirror above the washbasin, has since been painted by Xu Ying and her mother.


Finally the water pipe to the kitchen and bathroom got connected
The Kitchen table got two big drawers and the dripping tap was replaced

Garden developments

The plants on the pergola started to bloom
The grapes are getting bigger

Pig shed metamorphoses

After the new roof the metamorphoses of the old pig sheds continued and now the back wall is heightened and one of the separation walls removed.

But in the end neither us nor them know what to do with this space so we decided to do nothing more. Short time plan is to clear up the front and put up netting for ivy to grow up on.

Pig shed metamorphoses 1
Under the watchful eye of the landlady the landlord and his friends work on the pig sheds
Pig shed metamorphoses 2
The new inside with the separation wall removed
Metal work 1
Metal work 2
Assembling the metal frame of the drawer cabinet

Metal work continues part 2

Metal work 3
The completed metal frame

Assembling the parts that make up the frame of my new drawer cabinet on a stable, flat and level surface, makes life much easier than working on a small folding table on ones balcony like I used to.

But as one can see it takes still enormous amounts of clamps to keep everything in the right place.

Rain and scrap metal

Our duck afloat in the rainwater in the old pig feeding trough

After finishing the new floor and roof on the main house there was so much scrap metal left over, the whole construction is made out of metal, that finally it was decided that it was time to call the scrap metal dealer because one of the pig sheds was already full of scrap metal.

Scrap metal
A truckload of scrap metal

Metal work continues

Work on another hobby project, a set of drawers for my clothing, progressed to the state of making a metal frame.

Compared to doing this before, which was at the balcony, it is now much easier on the concrete work bench.

Metal work 1
Fitting the metal together
Metal work 2
Welding the metal together

Roof and floor

Apart from placing a complete extra floor on their own house the landlady and landlord got a new roof placed over the bathroom and the pig sheds of the Giants Republic.

But since nobody has any good plan for the old pig sheds we decided to do not that much more until there is a good plan.

Meanwhile finally the new floor for the bathroom was made. This required mixing half a cubic metre of concrete. The easy part of this was that we could do the mixing on the floor of the bathroom itself so no transport of the concrete was needed and no floor to clean afterwards.

Floor 1
Mixing half a cubic metre of concrete on site
Floor 2
And then smoothening it out
Floor 3
And then waiting for it to harden
Roof 2
New roof over the pig sheds

Puzzle two solved

As one can see in the picture X'mas puzzle two is finished now as well. However not as bunk bed because the bottom bed was missing.

The drawers that were part of the staircase to the top bed are now placed under the bed.

Now we have to find a mattress for it.

Teashop furniture

In the picture as well two cabinets that were given to us by Xu Ying's niece when one of the teashops she was responsible for closed.

This furniture was custom build from ply wood and sheet metal and weighted quite a bit but thanks to the landlord and a strong friend the two cabinets made it upstairs.

Upstairs rooms
A panorama picture of the two connected upstairs rooms

Garden developments

The grape that rose from the dead last year decided this year to even produce some fruit. OK the two bunches of grapes are still very small but it is a start.

Unlikely that we will produce any "appalation contrôlée TGR" this year.

Any way since this is the Giants Republic we only produce "Magnums" and two bunches will not be enough for this.

Fittingly at Easter our Passiflora plants both at home and the Giants Republic started to bloom and produce Passion fruits.

The garden as well benefitted from the closure of the teashop. A standing LED light is now illuminating the garden on the left side of the pizza hut and a long strip of LED lights is fitted to the wall on the right side of the pizza hut. Both can be spotted in the background of the pictures.

The baby grapes
Passiflora 1
The Passiflora at home
Passiflora 2
The Passiflora in bloom and one Passion fruit on its way

La Grande Bouffe

At the end of March, Wang Shuo Yun held her mass meeting at The Giants Republic. At peak time there were more than 30 visitors.

Earlier attempts by her had failed due to Covid and bad weather. But Covid seems to be something from the past now and the weather is fine.

The whole events was one continuous eating from eleven in the morning till six in the afternoon bookended by an hour before for preparation and an hour after for cleaning up.

It started with noodles for lunch followed by dumplings and finished with duck, ribs and bacon cooked in the drum BBQ. This all interlaced with cakes, sushi, fruit and more barbequed food.

La Grande Bouffe
The crowd of carnivores showing off their ribs

The idea was that the participants would be self-catering and some camping stoves showed up

Camping stove
Camping stove in action

But for this crowd small camping stoves are not enough so soon the kitchen was taken over as well

Two induction cookers at work

Tea, cake sushi and fruit

Puer tea
Puer tea being served at our new tea table
And this is only part of the crowd
Cake, fruit and sushi
Cake, fruit & sushi
BBQed chicken wings

Dumplings, ribs, bacon and duck

Making dumplings
Mass production of dumplings
Fire lighter
My main task was to light the fire
Wang Shuo Yun applying magic to the ribs in her drum BBQ
Result after hours of slow cooking in the drum BBQ
The harvest

Go here for a video clip of the ribs.

New metal roofs

While we were stuffing ourselves a construction crew was placing a new top floor on the house of the landlady.

View over the Giants Republic

After this weekend they would replace the roof of our bathroom and the roof of the pig sheds as well.

Roof work in progress


Spring 1
On the first of March the sun was high enough again to use the solar cooker
Spring 2
On the fourth of March we did a big spring cleaning and added some colour

Metal work finished

Metal work 3
The metal work combined with the wood work and some paint
Metal work 4
The final result together with one of the paintings
The back workshop with persimmon fruits on the floor and on the rafter

Metal work resumed

With the concrete workbench finally ready metal work was resumed.

The workbench and the space at the back are an enormous improvement compared to working on flimsy folding tables on a balcony.

However I have to share the back workshop with a couple of squirrels that live on the roof rafters. They make quite a mess by dropping half eaten persimmon fruits on the floor.

Things like painting I cannot do in the back workshop because of all the dust created by cutting and grinding but as well because of all the dust coming of the road above it.

Metal work 1
Metal work on the concrete work bench
Metal work 2
Welding and painting still done in the internal workshop

X'mas puzzles follow up

To continue this year where we left last year with the puzzles.

The toilet reservoir cover has been fixed. Also not perfect it will do the job.

The bed puzzle is still as it was. No time to solve it and to cold. Looks like the bottom bed parts of this bunk bed are missing.

The puzzle solved
The puzzle solved

© burma-road.com holds the copyright on all pictures, clips, text and maps used on this website unless otherwise indicated. (2007 - 2023).