Thursday, February 09, 2006

Tourist Site Fatigue

As time passes, I figured out William either goes shopping or gets facials when he’s frustrated by his lost of control in the situation. Since he decided to go for a facial this morning, I was left to amuse myself @ The Shaanxi History Museum. I passed on the tourist rip off cassette tape rental for a self-guided tour (recorded by Roger Moore – apparently a big selling point here…they love Bond…unfortunately…the wrong Bond) even though they claimed it was really worthwhile as it explained a lot about the collections that would otherwise have remained a mystery.

I was glad to be exploring alone in a dull sort of way as I watch other foreign tourists being herded like cattle from place to place with their guide repeatedly reminding them to read the English translation at the side of each exhibit, which appeared to have been translated by a machine operated by an ill-educated monkey, while they mega phoned the tour group in an ecstatic frenzy directing fellow flocks of sheep around. But like so many other 'historical' sights in China, it is yet another new, tour-group friendly replica and frankly uninteresting.

The temples, the ornate Chinese roves, the stone lions guarding the entrance and the courtyards were beautiful, I suppose, but I've seen enough already that 'temple fatigue' was beginning to set in. I was itching to move ahead with the film I came to shoot that I wasn’t appreciating them as much as I should have.

You can't enter most of the temples anyways, but you can peer into their dark interiors from a railing at the front entrance. To win this prize, you really have to fight like a Xian war refugee during her many historical battles. Around each front door, a surging mass of Chinese tourists push, elbow and snarl at each other for prime position. They fight first to get to the door, and then they fight to stay there. I was carried on the wave of a tour group or two past some of the doors as I held my camera above the wave and wondered if my health insurance covered being trod underfoot.

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