old friends better than merry warriors

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When I woke up in my PLA bed, I noticed something was going on outside:

Morning music – now that’s something different to a regular hotel.

I decided it was time for me to get going as well, because it would be a long day.

Ok, where do I start on this one? Too many pictures + too many words to go along with them.

The thing is, I had been to the Terracotta Army before on a hot summer day in 2006:

Terracotta Army museum

This is not an old photograph – I took this shot today.

The old photographs are in black & white, like this one:

Terracotta Army 2006

When I was shooting this, I was most interested in the way people were looking at their own history.

Today, history still stood there, erect and beautiful, but the crowds of that summer day were missing:

warrior statue

It seemed kind of boring just shooting these dudes in their glass cages, so I started looking for the red phone:

red phone 2006

…and it was gone, too:

new phone

Well, I guess the new phone has more buttons, but still the red one had more class.

Pictures like this one have been taken thousands of times:

army

See what I mean?

These dudes have been standing there (or rather laying there, buried in the dust) for more than 2.000 years, when the First Emperor Qin Shihuang 秦始皇 decided he needed thousands upon thousands of pottery warriors and horses to accompany him in the afterlife – and each of them had to be unique!

Cool stuff, boring pictures.

Then I noticed something new, at least I hadn’t seen it last time:

no photo

Time to get out.

I was so looking forward to the bit of road between the Terracotta Army and the mausoleum of Qin Shihuang.

That was because I had made some friends there before.

No, not these guys:

fake statues

There are shops selling pottery merchandise all along the way.

I was looking for these kids:

truck mechanics 2006

They had been busy fixing trucks when I walked by two years ago.

Today, there was only one dude left, and I didn’t recognize him:

truck mechanic

When I told him why I had come by, he just said I “looked kinda familiar”.

This is my friend Mr. Mao 毛先生, comfortably chilling in front of his flourishing restaurant almost two years ago:

Mr. Mao 2006

Today he was out building a new house in a village nearby, and the restaurant seemed kind of deserted:

shop fronts

Luckily, his wife was there though, and she invited me for a delicious bowl of noodles:

This restaurant owner remembered me from two years before

One thing that really impressed me about these folks, and about China in general: they say they are from the countryside, they say they are not well-educated, they might even have problems writing certain characters. But they have raised two great kids and sent them to universities.

Nuff respect.

I promised to visit them in their new home next time, then I walked over to the mausoleum:

fields

Emperors and heroes in China like to pile up large burial mounds for themselves – of course the First Emperor had the biggest one of them all, a veritable mountain.

Today the whole place was somehow packed with soldiers of the PLA:

soldiers

What would you have done?

I mean, I had practically slept in one of their beds the night before, so why not go on a holiday excursion with them?

marching soldiers

So I just tagged along:

When we got to the top, nothing had changed – it was still very boring:

top of Qin Shihuang's mausoleum

Don’t get me wrong, the Mausoleum itself is terribly interesting, but the thing is there’s just nothing to look at, because it’s all buried under the mound.

The green dudes had a little rest and shot some pictures up there, then they went back down again:

way home

And so did I.

I saw them once more later on the road, when they were just doing the same thing as me:

soldiers having fun

Which was walking of course.

I think I was pretty merry when I got to Lintong, but I really hadn’t expected anyone to notice:

Merry Chris

“Merry Chris” – and how could they have known I was also trying to grow a beard?

Ha, I moved myself and my merry fluff into a small hotel in a back alley:

clothes

On the top floor, I could hear the sounds of the bustling streets below, of the restaurants and the hairdressers and the fruit stands, and of the kids playing around downstairs.

I could see the mountains, the clouds, and someone’s laundry on the clothesline.

An evening breeze gently caressing my face.



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