Students jumping in the air at the end of their coastal studies

Costal Studies in China

Geography coastal studies










Coastal studies in China using a quadrant and tape mesure


China is a challenging location to find suitable sites for coastal studies programs with schools groups. This could be due to: pollution, access, safety, coastline disruption or other factors. We are here to help you navigate these challenges, we can do site visits on your behalf and send you all the data and information, then arrange all your local logistics and create amazing field work programs.
Drone view of a fishing village on Zhaosandao Island

Zhousan Island

Zhousan Island is located of shore from Ningbo and offers good transport links from Shanghai and Zhejiang locations. There is one small beach and harbor that is less modified and offers good data collection opportunities for student groups. Contact us for more information about our Zhousan Island coastal studies programs.
3 students colleting coastal studies data on a beach

Data collection

Many data collection options are possible looking at animal insect and plant life, coastal defences and harbor construction, beach composition and measurements, long shore drift and others.





Shigu Rainbow Valley Zen Quest Adventures

Community Vision

At The Dao of Zen

This page outlines some ideas to provide an inspiration springboard for what is possible with The DAO of Zen.

Who is this for?

We welcome and will need a very diverse range of talents to build our vision. We will need architects, artists, farmers, lawyers, accountants, programmers, permaculturelists, scientists, engineers, hackers, environmentalists, digital nomads, doctors and so on and so on. And if your work life revolves around something else entirely, completely outside our vision then you are still welcome to invest and live in our global communities.


There are a massive range of build possibilities, from high tech 3D printed earth to low tech straw and stone buildings. Geodesic Domes to Earthships, passive solar houses, tiny houses and yurts are all possible depending on location, budget, time and use case.

Power generation

Renewable power generation; solar will be best in most cases, due to its cost per KWH, safety, low maintenance and no moving parts. Here agrovoltaics provides a very interesting option along side roof top systems. However in some locations other systems could be considered including: wind, solar and hydro.

Food production

Food production may or may not be a high priority for a community, but some capacity in all locations is likely desirable. Here there are many options from ultra low tech like food forests and forest gardens to robotic permaculture using platforms like farm-bot or advanced hydroponic systems with a fish insect and plant cycle. To conventional organic agriculture and animal husbandry. Vertical farming, tree staple crops, intensive Silvo-pasture and so on.

4x4 car group photo, trees, shigu climbing development

Global community

One thing that makes this community unique is that it aims to be global with sites around the world and people moving between them. So our members are not confined to one place but free to move around, share ideas and experiences. In the past joining this kind of project was only possible if you settle in one location. Like joining the Earthship community in Taos New Mexico, but now with tech its possible to make something global and multi-cultural.

Centre for Alt Tech

Community facilities

Communities could be highly decentralised and not even own land in the same area, and or others could be highly integrated with many shared resources. Shared resources could include teaching and learning spaces (think Bali Green School), power generation, water resources, community gardens and farmland, meeting/socialising areas and so on.

Land would ideally be brought as brown field sites. The image above is from CAT the Centre for Alt Tech in Wales. It has been built on a disused slate quarry. Its now transformed into a beautiful natural habitat with a full off grid visitors centre showcasing a range of amazing living solutions.

Danxia Mountain drone image, waterfall and temple

The Dao of Zen FAQ

(This page in its current form is intended for feedback purposes and to start a discussion on how to build this project).

Is this an ethical investment?


If the DAO brought a lot of land and held it as humanities resources dwindle for the purposes of pushing it's value higher, or the DAO used the land for something exploitative or extractive then it would not be an ethical investment.
On the other hand if the DAO buys land to build small self sustaining communities on it then those communities can be of help and of use when times get hard instead of being climate refugees that strain the system even more. It is this kind of investment that The DAO of Zen is created to achieve.

Is the DAO fully decentralised?


The founders want to keep some controls over the DAO during its initial development to keep it running in the direction envisaged. Providing the right motivations and systems can be designed then controls can be slowly relinquished.


Shouldn't we buy land to protect it instead of using it for our own needs?

This can already be done, please look below and do some research, we do not know enough about any of these projects to endorse them:

ForestDao, Buy Brazilland, The Rainforest Trust

Is this DAO building a religion?

This DAO dose not have any links to any religious groups and generally dislikes any promotion of monotheist ideologies (build your own DAO if that's your thing).

Will the DAO only buy land, or might it buy other things?

The DAO may at some point in the distant future elect to purchase other resources besides land. Maybe a ship to move things around the world. Or maybe in the distant future tickets to Mars to start a new community there!

Can the name be changed?


The DAO of Zen is just a place holder name for now.

Will the climate crisis destroy the internet?

Now that we have space based internet, it seams likely that the internet will be quite resilient.

Will quantum computing destroy crypto?

It seams unlikely, but crypto and web3 may need to adapt to new encryption standards and may need to do so very soon.

Can land owners / NFT holders sell?


Land owners who own a plot of land and an NFT can sell. It's up to buyers to check everything, the DAO can't be held responsible for these third party transactions.

Could the DAO get under cut by someone buying the land proposed preemptively?


This should not be a problem during the setup faze. But after growing in size it maybe come a problem. It maybe that only token holders above a set size get to see proposals for land acquisition to prevent this.

Is this a prepper community?


Not in the classic sense, 'prepper community' conjuring up images of middle aged men building bunkers in the mountains, hiding several years supply of canned food, ammunition and some AR15's.
This is about building communities that people want to live in, not wholes in the ground for hiding guns. About creating abundance and on boarding people, not fighting over scarce resources.

Are there other web3 real world communities?

How can a DAO own land?

Our hope is that the DAO Zen is able to buy land all over the world. Wyoming became the first state's in 2021 which recognizes DAO governance of LLC corporations. Because LLCs can own land, this creates a powerful pathway for decentralized land ownership.

The Team

Meet Us

Eben, on China Climbing at White Mountain, Yangshuo, China


Eben's interests and skills are spread across a wide range of areas from canoeing and rock climbing to web design and the study of Chinese. Eben is from the UK and graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in 2005 with an Honours degree in Outdoor Leadership.

Waterfall, Yunnan, Niru, china, one person, trees, river and rocks


Born in HK, educated in the UK, Ed is a graduate of the University of London law school. An outdoor enthusiast whose interest in the outdoors started from the tender age of 4, when his mother took him to the hills in an effort to combat childhood asthma. His love for the wilderness was further invigorated when he spent 3 years of his teens as a Royal Army and marines cadet.

Kim Yu, Abseiling and canyoning in Hong Kong


Kim was born in China and raised in Hong Kong and Australia. After gaining a bachelor degree in Tourism, Kim worked for Cathay Pacific for many years traveling all over the world. Kim has continued to grow by attending many courses, from sports and nutrition to event management....



Sisi is from Guangxi province in South China and she speaks: Cantonese, Chinese and English. She is great with people, logistics and loves the outdoors. Her rock climbing ability is amazing and she is very experienced leading international school groups in China.






Qing Dynasty corporate event in Lijiang China


Zen Quest Adventures

Changing relativise with unique opportunities

Jumping in the desert, old ZQ logo, Group of people, sand and sky

Themed Activities

Take part in one of our many themed events, suitable for large and small groups, big and small budgets alike. Our events range from small dinner meetings and parties to multi day adventures in wild outdoor arenas. Whether your looking for a simple event to help your team work together run in your work place or a multi day company retreat for your management team we have it all.

Catapult testing, team building, China

Management Development

At Zen Quest we offer a range of programmes to suit both your company and your career needs. Our team of dedicated professionals combine top academic knowledge, real life managerial experience and deep expertise in the outdoors to construct individualised programmes to suit the specific needs of your company or career aspirations through our unique modular Outdoor MBA (TM) courses that teach real life business functions in an amazing outdoor setting.

Yangshuo, yulong river, bamboo and Karst mountains

Corporate Retreats

A company’s success depends largely on the motivation, productivity and unity of its workforce. Your company may spend valuable time and resources to build relationships within the office, but these may prove unsatisfactory as the office environment rarely provides the quality experience necessary to foster a deep bond between employees.

Baotao, cooking in the desert

Team building

Our approach to team building is simple yet timeless: original, specific and holistic. We specialise in designing bespoke team building programmes that target your organisation’s specific needs. Our innovative themed team building and strategy games will elevate your team to a different dimension.

Board game, team building
Shenzhen forrest adventure, leafs in the sun

Who will eat the apple?

Orienteering, Team building, and Cooperating: Who Will Eat The Apple?

Steve Jobs is gone and Apple’s share price is down, but now is the time for a new challenger to Eat the Apple and stand atop the world’s mountain of companies. Can it be you?

Our first challenge presents a seemingly simple, but complex case of “Who will Eat the Apple?” Participants will split into different “companies”: Pear, Sisung, Yeskia, GSB, Huabei, Husan, Soelbow—fierce competitors in the mobile consumer electronics game who sometimes do cooperate and other times crush each other. Each participant will be given a random role in the company: CEO, CFO, marketing, R&D, receptionist. Each will be given an identical starting “budget” with the goal of deciding how much to spend on product development on up to five new products. The right to develop each product will be decided at an auction, and the winning team will be the one who picks the best product mix based on the secret future value of each product.

Before the event, each participant will be given some information based on their assigned role. Furthermore, each team will receive some more information along with general industry information. The challenge will be to use the two hours allotted to apply orienteering skills taught in the morning workshop to find as many clues—hidden around Maluanshan—as possible to increase the individual and the team’s knowledge and then use this knowledge to come up with a winning strategy to use in the technology auction after lunch. Only basic tools will be allowed--a map, a compass, and walkie-talkies. (cell phones?) along with the information you are given, that which you find, trade, buy, or steal—to devise your strategy to become number one.

Can your team find and interpret the clues? Can you bid effectively? Can you buy from your competitors? Will you form alliances? Will you betray your team for a better offer from a competitor? Will you beat Steve Jobs and the legacy of apple? Are you up to the challenge? A debrief after the event will be held along with a roundtable and metrics on performance.

Workshop Takeaways

Competency Workshop Area
Business & Management Skills
Information Management
Interpreting own and others roles, finding and using clues, final strategy
Team Building Incentive alignment, value of trust


Applied leadership style, speed and effectiveness, outcome based leadership

Time/Resource Management

Achieving complex uncertain goals under pressure, leveraging utility of minimal resources, delegation

Outdoor Skills
Route finding

Contour map reading, route choice
Orienteering Compass use, objective locating
Hiking Speed, comfort and hydration, sub-teams

Each participant will receive and individual and team scores on each of these dimensions from a 360 degree feedback perspective

Teams will be randomly filmed throughout the event for playback review

A final debrief will allow all participants to compare, contrast, and learn from each others’ performance.


Location: Maluan Mountain

About Maluan Mountain: sourse - Shenzhen Daily November 10, 2004, from

"Maluan Mountain is not the most famous mountain in the Shenzhen area, even among the city's long-term residents.
However, it is extremely popular among avid hikers because it's easy, safe, beautiful and varied with clear streams, lush woods, Chinese plum blossoms and one of the area's largest waterfalls.
The mountain's paths aren't surfaced, yet the climb is not strenuous, as the summit is only half the height of Shenzhen's highest peak, Wutong Mountain.
Lan Chou Gu, a veteran member of Shenzhen's largest online outdoor pursuits club, Mofang, once wrote: "It's hard to say how many Shenzheners have fallen in love with hiking when climbing Maluan Mountain, but who, if they love hiking, has not climbed Maluan Mountain."
Expeditions to Maluan Mountain usually start at Diecuihu Reservoir, 15 minutes from Xiaomeisha beach, and end at Dameisha beach.
The summit is accessible from various routes, but the most attractive one is along a stream.
The stream is less than half-a-meter deep, with boulders forming natural steps for hikers. Jumping from one boulder to another is a real test of balance, as some boulders are pointed and far apart from each other. In other places, the boulders are so large and close together that you have to scramble over, squeeze between and slide down them.
In nice weather, falling into the water is not the end of the world, although you have to be careful because your shoes become wet and slippery. However, after heavy rain, the water can run very fast and the rapids can carry you downstream.
Despite the challenges, trekking up the stream is quite refreshing.
Even on the hottest summer days, you will not feel it because much of the stream is under tree cover. The sounds of water splashing add to the tranquility and coolness of the mountain. Looking down, a continuous mountain chain extends in front of you, completely separating you from the city.
When a section of the waterway is too difficult to pass, a nearby mountain trail is a good alternative. Cool, damp, lush and with the sound of rushing water, the trail passes through what seems like a temperate forest.
Maluan Waterfalls is one of the largest in the Shenzhen area, about 16 meters high. There are also some smaller falls. While many leisurely hikers just enjoy watching the thundering waterfalls or bathing in the cool water, rock-climbers practice their skills on the cliffs beside the waterfalls.
The mountain is best known for its plum blossom trees, which bloom in January. The Plum Blossom Pavilion at the summit offers an excellent view of the blue sea and the red and white plum blossoms in January.
If you start your expedition at about 10 AM, you will arrive at the Plum Blossom Pavilion by midday, in time for a relaxing lunch at the small village about 30 minutes walk from the pavilion.
You can buy some farm produce from the villagers and cook at their houses. If you are lucky, you can get a chicken raised by farmers for 50 yuan (US$6). But don't expect to recharge your mobile phones here because most of the village houses have no electricity.
If you want to climb Maluan Mountain, you'd better be quick. The mountain may soon lose part of its natural beauty because a golf course is being built on it."

Trekking in the forrest, shenzhen

Apply for Eat the Apple


Experiential Education

Philosophical framework for experiential and outdoor education

Any approach to education must ask itself, what is the goal of education? Is it our aim to cultivate doctors, engineers and other brands of professionals?


Is education simply a form of vocational training and a vehicle to career advancement? Alternatively is education more a way of studying rather than a specific course or field of study, where we impart a philosophy of education that empowers individuals with broad knowledge and transferable skills, and a stronger sense of values, ethics, and civic engagement? 

The above represents the two predominant school of thoughts regarding senior secondary and higher education. However, the seeming dichotomy could be resolved by combining the two school of thoughts where professional training is complimented and supplemented by liberal and experiential education anchored on moral and ethical grounds, thereby combining into a holistic form of education. 

In order to achieve the objectives of holistic education we must seek to develop the whole person to face the challenges of life, which, as we shall see, may also mean finding a meaning for one's life.  For this, the prevalent institutional mechanisms, even in the top world-class universities, are far from enough.

Students today face stark challenges when they leave university, employers are often looking beyond the academic achievements of students. In fact  A recent study by the global consultancy McKinsey & Co points to the need to identify new approaches to helping those leaving education to secure employment. It is submitted that outdoor education plays an important role in both the provision of employment and the preparation of people for employment.

As Donald Schon puts it in the" Education of a Reflective Practitioner", the terrain that human beings have to negotiate is like an immense swamp. Scattered far and few between are isolated islands, which are the existing academic or professional disciplines. 

But the problem is, when one encounters a challenging situation to which one has to cultivate creative solutions to overcome or bypass, such solutions are always situated at a site distant from those islands, with the result that the recognized or documented resolutions will at best be marginally helpful. This is the case when one is doing scientific research, pursuing artistic creation, starting a small business or solving a problem in one's business, social, political, legal or educational organization. Thus, professional education does give us a map in negotiating the swamp, but it may not be adequate, experiential education acts as a compass giving our students direction in navigating the swamp. From this analogy, one could see that both are integral parts in enabling our students to face the challenges of life. 

Thus, the students must be given the chance and support to learn to negotiate uncharted terrains and ambiguous situations. Furthermore even when existing techniques are more or less applicable, one must be able to learn them in an authentic constructivist mode.  As Jean Piaget pointed out decades ago, ‘knowledge is constructed by the learner.' This is invariably true for real learning, starting from infancy when one learns to speak, discerning and extracting amidst an ocean of ' noise' certain sounds that seem to be connected to some objects or events in the real world, and in no time begins to utter those sounds in a coherent fashion. Here, knowledge has indeed been constructed. The construction of knowledge, therefore could not be achieved through rote learning, it must be fortified by experience and guidance. The role of an outdoor/experiential educator is not to dictate, but rather like a coach, to bring out the latent qualities within the students through challenging themselves and pushing them out of their comfort zone. 

A meaningful education must therefore try to help students develop a certain quality, what John Keats referred to as ' Negative Capability' i.e. the patience, resilience and fearlessness when confronted with an ambiguous or unknown situation, and in the course of time, through relentless search, find a way through it, constructing knowledge with what Charles Handy called 'the Third Eye'.  The “Third eye” is essentially a new discovery or solution which could only be achieved through one’s “negative capabilities”. Thus, it is reasoned that “negative capability’ is instrumental in producing new discoveries and solutions – which are the hallmarks of innovation. 

But what constitutes the pre-requisite for Negative Capability?  The answer is 'Passion', a passion for exploratory learning which is innate in all human beings, otherwise they wouldn't even learn to talk or walk. But which in most cases has been buried, through years of neglect or suppression by institutional education. Here, I would like to stress the futility in preaching and lecturing the students, in an attempt to exhort in them a sense of passion.  The only way to re-ignite their passion is through 'enticing' them to go through authentic learning experiences. 

The strategy is to identify 'Zones of Excitement' for our students, and use them as entry points for student learning. Outdoor experiential education is the perfect vehicle for instilling passion in students, using the breathtakingly beautiful wilderness as a platform to create problems and challenges where students will have to employ various skill sets, such as communication, creativity and physical prowess to come up with innovative solutions to the challenges presented to them. 

Through this process the student goes around and around the cycle of passion, where negative capability is cultivated and resulting in the ‘third eye’. With the 'passion' element perpetually invigorated by the Eureka Effect, the journey becomes an upward spiral. The student grows holistically as a whole person.

Ethical education will result organically in the process too. Through cultural exposure to the unique destinations selected by our staff at Zen Quest coupled with living for prolonged periods in a commune setting, it helps to instill in our students a deep sense of empathy for one's fellow man. A further advantage for the developing mind, is that not only will one have the opportunity to see the larger world, but also one's place in it, and the part that one could play to make one's life a meaningful, and thus a fulfilling, one. He or she begins to glimpse a 'meaning of life', against the background of the real world that one has to grapple with for the rest of one's life. As pointed out by humanistic psychologists like Abraham Maslow and Viktor Frankl, and confirmed by empirical research, the search for a ' meaning of life ' is a basic human drive, though this again may be temporarily buried due to a number of external factors.

Thus we have a vision, and a strategy for attaining it. To actualize this, we must take students outside of their comfort zone for a prolonged period lasting for at least 14 days. The students will be taken to a remote location and will be taught basic outdoor navigation, survival and planning abilities. Genuine task and challenges will be set, where groups of student must come up with creative solution to solve them. The entire process will be captured by video camera, and shown to the students in the evening using portable projectors and a white screen. This review session helps to solidify what they have learnt and to facilitate introspection where they could review their own conduct, attitude and abilities. After which our staff and students will sit in a circle around a fire, the tranquility and unity afforded by such an environment is conducive to deep sharing of thoughts and feelings.

At Zen Quest our goal is to provide the most unique outdoor education experience in the world. Our instruction techniques embody the latest research in neuroscience, psychology and educational philosophy, taught by the most qualified instructors in China and the UK. Here, safety is our paramount concern, our staff are constantly reviewing new safety technique from around the world, to ensure that our programs are of world class quality. 

For more on our educational research on outdoor education, please see our article "The connection between physical exercise, environmental enrichment and learning capabilities".

outdoor education research in China, field studies note taking

Outdoor education research in China


There have been many studies all over the world looking at the mental, physical and sociological benefits of participation in outdoor sports. One of our primary aims is to help further this research by providing research data free of charge and open for use by anyone. Also find information on all our past programs and achievements.
Click on the links below to see what we are working on.enlightened