China | 18.07.11

Still waiting

I can’t believe I am still waiting for my stone! I am not the only one but it means I will need more assistance to complete the job on time. Supplying the materials for over 100 sculptors is no small order and the size of the stones makes transporting and handling a tricky business. The work appears to progress reasonably quickly once the stone is in place. At this stage angle grinders, hammer drills, circular saws, wedges and feathers are the favoured tools for working the stone.

Inside the great hall, metal armatures are being welded, some up to 5 metres high. So many people working in the area that it is impossible not to be affected by the fumes given off by the welding rods. Which ever way you look the flash of the welder catches your eye. Add to this the noise and regular showers of sparks from grinders cutting steel and you get some idea of what the environment is like.

Over the last couple of days I have played at being a tourist and have visited the Emperor’s Palace. Major films have been made that deal with the subject of the ‘last Emperor’ but to be waking around the gardens and buildings adds a whole new dimension to the story of the fall of the Emperor.

Yesterday, together with our interpreters, three of us boarded the high speed train and traveled to Jilin, the Capital of Jilin Province.Lots of people wanted to board the train and we spent a good 30 minutes standing around prior to boarding. While the trip took 40 minute it seemed to be over in a flash. Smooth ride through farm land planted with corn looking green and lush.

After a typical Chinese lunch (so many different courses) we paid a visit to a Buddhist Centre perched on a hill top close by a a lake where families were joying themselves. A huge river runs through the centre of the city and we walked long the riverside for hours resting every now an again to watch the kites flying overhead or the antics of young kids on roller blades. Jilin has a restful atmosphere compared to Changchun and the climate is less extreme due to the proximity of mountains which help reduce the ferocity of the winds.