Blogger’s Fatigue

This blogger has not run out of things to write about – that will never happen, least of all in China. But when we return to the hotel at 8:45 p.m. without supper and schedule a 5:45 a.m. check out the next morning, it tempers the exuberance of the writer a wee bit! Today is my beloved daughter’s birthday; there are times when it tugs at my heart strings to be halfway around the world.

The day dawned sunny and brisk. There were two filming venues today, one at the street market in Jinzhou, and the other far out of town. Staying at the hotel was an option for me, but in a quantum event I materialized out of the ether and was filmed in the marketplace before blinking out of existence again. Phil and Hailu did their market tour first. Standing outside at 9 a.m. proved to be pretty invigorating so Kelly thought it best for me to be inside. She located a coffee venue for me, which turned out to be an intriguing western-style fast food restaurant called “Popland.” It served well indeed. When Hailu was finished he came inside and I took his place; the film crew and producers had no such luck. When I came out in mid morning it was definitely warmer. Phil and I walked to another spot in the market and had our stroll through, discussing the pleasure of his first visit to China, and the reasons scientific and personal why I have been coming here for nearly 15 years. The walk involved interactions with some of the fish mongers, including some brief conversations in Chinese. We did multiple takes (wide shots, close shots, talking shots, silent walks) so there is no way of knowing which version (if any at all) will appear. At the first walk one of the young merchants engaged us in lively conversation, both English and Chinese, but then could not be roused on subsequent pass-bys, because he was engrossed in a foursome of cards!

We all lunched at Popland on fish sandwiches and chicken burgers. They were decent but took a long time coming. What did come in seemingly endless succession were orders of French fries. I declined the first half dozen times or so but finally succumbed. They were actually quite respectable. We then drove 1 hour and 45 minutes to the extremely important site of Sihetun, the quarry from which came Sinosauropteryx, the small proto-feathered dinosaur that in 1996 signaled the start of the paleontological explosion that brought China to the fore. Other fossils from here include Protarchaeopteryx, Beipiaosaurus, Sinornithosaurus, and legions of fossil birds, above all the bird Confuciusornis. This is truly holy ground for paleontologists and I dearly love coming here with Hailu. An added treat is meeting Mr. Li, the farmer who found Sinosauropteryx. He is a sweet man and always smiles broadly when he sees me. An in situ museum shows specimens of Confuciusornis and my beloved dinosaur Psittacosaurus in position on the bedding plane as first discovered. Outside the spoil piles underneath the cliffs (man made cliffs) are bursting with fossil insect larvae (Ephemeropsis) and a clam like crustacean (Eoestheria). Hailu and Phil filmed outside until the sun went down. They then filmed inside the splendid museum until 7 p.m. We were all pretty chilled by this time and happy to board our cozy warm bus for the return trip to our hotel in Jinzhou.

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1 Comment

  1. Hillary I. said,

    October 19, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    Psittacosaurus! I love the sound of it – so euphonious! Similarly I have longed to make the diagnosis of psittacosis just so I have an excuse to say it, as it rolls so nicely off the tongue 🙂 I’m just a word nerd I guess.


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