Gong Jiaju

China Instructor

Gong Jiajü was born and raised in the Liangshan mountains of southwest Sichuan Province, a remote area of modern China populated by Kham Tibetan and Yi ethnic minorities that was an autonomous Buddhist theocracy until the revolution. His youth was spent among the three sacred peaks of Yading National Park before moving to Panzhihua to attend university and begin his professional life working as a high school English teacher. There he discovered his enthusiasm for education and working with young people. After several years teaching English he began working as a translator for international joint venture companies focused on hydroelectric dam projects in central China.

After moving to Dali, the capital of the ancient Dali Kingdom perched on an alpine lake in the mountains of western Yunnan Province, Gong began guiding trips and expeditions for foreign film crews, scientists and researchers. This work led him into some of China’s most remote areas, including Tibet and Xinjiang, and allowed him unique insight into cross-cultural analysis. Guiding for international firms like National Geographic allowed him to familiarize himself with local languages, dialects and regional customs while exploring western China’s diverse natural environment.

In 2010 Gong founded Wuliang Shan Coffee Roaster & Cafe, an organic coffee joint-venture with rural ethnic Yi farmers in Lincang County, Yunnan. The Wuliang Shan coffee project is an exploratory venture meant to introduce and assist farmers by providing an alternative to the saturated tea industry. During this time, he also worked as an editor and photojournalist for Yunnan magazine, and published articles on a variety of topics including Bama, Guangxi: The World’s Oldest Village; The Cave Dwellers of Guangnan County; Yunnan’s National Park Project; Traversing the Bilou Xue Shan: From the Nujiang to the Mekong Gorge.

Jiajü is an avid outdoorsmen, traveler, farmer and philosopher. He began his journeys through Southeast Asia in the days when China was “opening” almost twenty years ago and he has continued exploring the region while occasionally living in monastic communities in Myanmar, Taoist monasteries in China and isolated island in the Gulf of Tonkin. Gong has an organic farm on his property and provides fresh healthy produce to local businesses in Dali.