Archive for September, 2009

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Posted in Uncategorized on September 30, 2009 by theterracottawarriors


Catch up on your Chinese Knowledge- Part 5

Posted in Uncategorized on September 29, 2009 by theterracottawarriors

In rounding out our series highlighting the National Geographic Magazine’s all-China issue, we conclude with an article that looks to China’s future. Growth continues unabated and the future is full with anticipation. What, then, can we expect?

The genesis of a Chinese factory town is always the same: In the beginning nearly everybody is a construction worker. The booming economy means that work moves fast, and new industrial districts rise in distinct stages. Those early laborers are men who have migrated from rural villages, and immediately they’re joined by small entrepreneurs. These pioneers sell meat, fruit, and vegetables on informal stands, and later, when the first real stores appear, they stock construction materials. After that cell phone companies set up shop: China Mobile, China Unicom. They deal prepaid phone cards to migrants; in the southeastern province of Zhejiang, one popular product is called the Homesick Card. During these initial stages there’s rarely any sign of police. Government officials are prominently absent. It’s not until plants start production that you see many women. Assembly-line bosses prefer young female workers, who are believed to be more diligent and manageable. After the women appear, so do the clothes shops. It’s amazing how quickly a shoe store emerges from a barren strip of factories, like a flower in a broken sidewalk. In the early days garbage accumulates in the gutters; the government is never in a rush to institute basic services. Public buses don’t appear for months. Manholes remain open till the last instant, for fear that early settlers will steal the metal covers and sell them for scrap.

Over a two-year period, I traveled repeatedly to Zhejiang, watching factory towns rise from the farmland. Every time, I rented a car and followed a brand-new highway that connected the boomtowns of tomorrow. I drove the road for six months before noticing any clear indication of local authority. That’s when I began to receive speeding tickets—$20 each, three or four every journey. They were issued by automated cameras, usually in places where the posted speed limit mysteriously dropped without warning.
For more, click here.

Win a Free Cruise— Yes, it’s real.

Posted in Uncategorized on September 28, 2009 by theterracottawarriors

Viking River Cruises, one of our sponsors for the upcoming exhibit has graciously donated a free cruise! We are just as excited as you are even though museum staff  aren’t allowed to enter.

Check out the contest here: (scroll to the middle/bottom of the page).

DIY Helicopter

Posted in Uncategorized on September 25, 2009 by theterracottawarriors

Chinese copter

Yes, a DIY Helicopter. Check this out:

Anyone who dares to build a helicopter with wooden blades, a steel-pipe-reinforced frame, and a motorcycle engine deserves to go up in the thing. But the Chinese government has forbidden farmer Wu Zhongyuan from even attempting a test flight. We just want to see if the crazy contraption can fly.

Granted, Chinese locals have history of bold DIY inventions ranging from homemade robots to DIY gyrocopters and airplanes. Many of these emerged from the “shanzhai” movement, which celebrates both homemade ingenuity and knockoffs.

On the higher end, some well-engineered knockoffs can even successfully riff on the iPhone and other high-tech products, although counterfeits can raise safety issues for Chinese consumers.

Wu says that he built the copter based on middle-school physics, and all for a sum of $1,600. If the copter truly works and isn’t just a hoax, he claims that the invention can get him as high as 2,600 feet.

What do you think? Is that a viable flying machine or a pretty model?

He’s not alone among China’s DIY flyers, if these videos are any indication.

Photo Challenge

Posted in Uncategorized on September 24, 2009 by theterracottawarriors


In conjunction with its upcoming exhibition Terra Cotta Warriors: Guardians of China’s First Emperor, National Geographic Museum is running a photo challenge to find your very best terra cotta warrior photographs. Have you visited the First Emperor’s tomb in Xi’an, China? Do you have fantastic photographs of the warriors, horses, chariots, or any of the remarkable archaeological finds? Submit your photos here.

Please upload photos that match our theme and continue to check back. We will periodically review the images and select photos to feature on our blog and the best photo will featured at the museum during the exhibition!

Terra Cotta Warriors will be on view in Washington, DC from November 19, 2009 – March 31, 2010.

China Grows in South America

Posted in Uncategorized on September 23, 2009 by theterracottawarriors

How much do you know about China’s growth in South America?

Catch up on your Chinese Knowledge- Part 4

Posted in Uncategorized on September 22, 2009 by theterracottawarriors

No coverage of China is complete without at least touching on the issue of the Dalai Lama and Lhasa. This article, the fourth in our feature on the National Geographic Magazine’s all-China issue, discusses Lhasa from the view point of an Austrian tutor. The Austrian bluffed his way into Lhasa and was captivated from then on…

Photograph by Heinrich Harrer

Photograph by Heinrich Harrer

The rocky trail led into the broad valley of the Kyi River. Exhausted, our shoes in tatters and our feet bleeding and blistered, we rounded a little hill. Before us lay the Potala, winter palace of Tibet’s Dalai Lama, its golden roofs ablaze in the January sun.

Lhasa was only eight miles away!

I felt a sudden compulsion to sink to my knees and offer a prayer of thanksgiving, even as did the Buddhist pilgrims who were our companions. It seemed impossible that we had reached safety, that our agony of cold and hunger and danger lay behind us. We had walked more than 1,500 miles across the most forbidding terrain in the world and had climbed 62 mountain passes, some as high as 20,000 feet.

It is just as well, I have since felt, that no man can foretell the future. What would Peter Aufschnaiter and I have thought, when we left our native Austria in 1939 as members of the German Nanga Parbat Expedition, had we known we faced long imprisonment and a desperate escape into Tibet, where we were to roam fabled Lhasa with a color camera?

War had trapped our expedition in Karachi. Enemy aliens, we were interned in a British prisoner-of-war camp in India. We mountaineers decided to attempt an escape over the towering Himalayas.

I drew maps, studied Tibetan, hoarded money and medicines and other essentials.

After several abortive breaks we reached freedom. Our comrades, appalled by the hardships, turned back, but Aufschnaiter and I had struggled and bluffed our way across Tibet’s desolate Chang Tang, a wasteland that even the natives shun in winter (pages 6 and 10). We had subsisted on raw yak meat and yak-butter tea and dried meal. And now at last, after 21 months of wandering in which we had almost given up hope, the golden roofs of the Potala were in sight.

Even now our troubles were not at an end. We were trespassers in Tibet, unwelcome foreigners in a land where every man is forbidden to assist a traveler who lacks written authority to pass. Our clothes were in rags, our appearance unkempt and forbidding. We had no baggage animals and no money to hire them. Surely the gates of the holy city would be closed to us.

We decided on one last desperate gamble.
To continue reading, click here.