Shenzhen may be southern China's commercial success story, but it doesn't have a lot going for it in terms of history and culture. That might be why they've over-compensated by cramming as many of China's greatest hits as possible into three square kilometres at the charming, impressive and amusingly named Splendid China. Grand!
I thought this would mean I could tick off essential sights like the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and those Avatar rock formations so I wouldn't have to see the real ones, but seeing these places in lovingly detailed miniature only made me want to visit more, like the sucker for advertising I obviously am.
If only I could find some way around these internet restrictions that are threatening my livelihood, I'd stay in China for a while. But today was a chance to leave those frustrations and malfunctioning virtual private networks in my hotel room and spend a sunny afternoon stomping around replica fortresses like a Godzilla without the excuse of having children in tow. I mean, child.
This was a pretty good introduction to China actually, which I lazily haven't bothered learning much about as I was planning on limiting my trip to the Pearl River Delta. It was nice to refresh my memories of Chinese dynasties from Taiwan's National Palace Museum over a year and a half ago, before the knowledge became instantly buried again.
Longmen grottoes. Don't need to go to Henan Province now
Mogao grottoes. Don't have to head up Mingsha Mountain any time soon
Potala Palace. Don't gotta go to Tibet now (even if they let me)
Sun Yat Sen Mausoleum and Imperial Palace at the Forbidden City. Don't... need...
Damn, maybe I do need to go to Beijing. But not this time
They've gone all out with the Great Wall too. I don't know if this is all to exact scale, and if they've artificially contoured these hills to reflect the precise dimensions of the real stretch between the Shanhaiguan and Jiayuguan passes, but let's assume pedantry
'Oh Jesus, not another 坏蛋 wall!' regular readers shriek. Don't worry, I couldn't walk along it this time. Besides, I think two blog posts dedicated entirely to walls and one about escalators is enough for one month, don't you?
Genghis Khan's mausoleum. Don't need to go to Mongolia now
Buyei stockade. This was probably my favourite thing here. Look at the diddy water wheel!
Thousand armed, thousand eyed Buddha. I thought the Chinese were supposed to be good at maths? I count less than 40. Rip-off!
They claim this is a 1:1 scale of the Stone Forest. Really? It always looked a lot bigger in pictures, but this could just be bad maths again.
Maybe I don't need to go there after all. It'd probably be a case of the Chocolate Hills again, where everyone takes the same photo from the same vantage point in a car park and pretends they were exploring the magical wilderness before getting back on the bus
Chinese Folk Culture Village
More life-size replicas that blur the line between mock-up and someone's actual house, especially as they seem to have flown in real members of these disparate hill tribes to dress up in their great-great-grandparents' clothes and try to sell me mysterious vials.
I think I like the Buyei best
But the Naxxi have good taste in courtyards
And the Mongolians can always treat you to chariot race around the garden
These guys are called the Dong. With a name like that, it's no wonder they've become a little hostile to strangers
Tibetan monastery. I didn't recognise it without the blazing monk motif
Oh dear, I forgot about that place… maybe I don't want to go to Beijing after all