Sunday, 25 May 2008

Warriors on film

Our stay in Xian was a very relaxed one thanks to the fantastic Seven Sages hostel we stayed in. The staff couldn't have been friendlier or more helpful. With its own private courtyard and table tennis table, it was sometimes a struggle to venture outside.

The main reason for visiting Xian was to see the Terracotta Warriors. In the Lonely Planet book it says that some people leave a little disappointed with it. They can't get close enough to the figures or something. Rubbish. The history and spectacle combined are sensational. The warriors are over 2000 years old. Construction lasted 40 years and everyone is unique, that is the detail of hair, clothes, face, clothing etc is different on each one. It took some 720 000 men to work on the project. When you witness the enormity of the place and face the hundreds of lifesize warriors facing you, you feel like you have wandered onto the set of an old Ray Harryhausen animated film. On command they will suddenly rise from their stupor and start marching towards you. To quote an American we overheard, "Gee, I didn't realise they would be so big. I thought they would be all be in miniature!"

We didn't take any photos of the warriors. Mainly because there was another army, of tourists, taking photos, short films, Hollywood productions for themselves. When you are in China you are often reminded of how large and populous a country it is and how many cameras and mobile phones there are as a result. Now, we don't claim to be photography experts, far from it, but sometimes you question the sanity for the audience who will be made to view these masterpieces. The camcorders are the worst. I saw one old Dutch gentlemen film the entire changing of the wheels as our train passed from Mongolia to China. Nothing much happens and when it does it happens reeeeeeeeeally slowly. It also takes over an hour. He captured the whole event.

So, to celebrate the digital tools of the modern world, for better or worse, another wee mixtape. Actually, this one is just an excuse to come clean about my love for Cliff Richard's Wired For Sound. There, it's out. Done.

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