It's Valentine's Day & I didn't even get any fake or replica Valentines today. Plastic flowers are popular items but then product counterfeiting is an epidemic here. So plastic flowers must be someone's idea of fake Valentines.
I've always felt cheated by replicas, but the Chinese don't seem to mind at all. I've noticed this about the Chinese here - they seem to be indifferent towards a replica and the real thing. China is littered with parks where you can see replicas of everything. In the boarder city of Shenzhen, just the other side of my home town, Kowloon, there's a park with replicas of famous structures including the Eiffel Tower, and other famous foreign buildings like the Louvre, Buckingham Palace etc.
Foot massage girl #56 told me the other night, without a trace of irony or sarcasm, that it's more convenient that way, as you can see all the places at once without having to travel around too much, and you only have to pay one entrance fee. As if to prove their point, near the tomb of Emperor Qin, there was even a replica of a pyramid and a sphinx, so you don't have to bother going to Egypt! Is that cool or what! Fang bien strikes again!
Not that I was dieing (no pun intended) to see anything as morbid as Qin’s real tomb. But the nearest you can get to the real tomb is to stand on the hill which it was dug into. From the top of the hill, upon the mausoleum's completion, you could once see all 25 kilometers of the great emperor's magnificent mausoleum complex; an eternal necropolis, walled in and an eternal reminder of his greatness.
I did however wanted to see the site of the original Tang Dynasty Pear Garden, the birthplace of Chinese Opera since I was here to shoot a doc about a Peking Opera journey after all. But no one seemed to know of its exact location or care, including our Peking Opera Aficionado, Master Sun. Just to appease my annoying ‘foreigner’s curiosity’, on route to the Terracotta site along a dusty country road to the northern outskirts of town, Mister Adidas shouted out ‘Camera ! Kwoi ! Camera !’ as he hazardously pointed towards what was just a small dirty factory with some neighboring pig-farming peasants. I wasn’t sure if I was disappointed by the absence of a replica or that this piece of obscure history has totally vanished without a trace. Obscure history has little chance of survival here.