TOKYO SUNRISE

This time of year, due to their refusing to implement daylight savings time, the sun rises in Japan around 5:30am and gets earlier and earlier. At it’s peak, the sun will come up at 4:40am. It does not matter how good your blackout blinds are – when you have a full on tropical sun shining down on you (Tokyo “feels like” 40-50C in July and August), you are waking up.

The sunrises are beautiful, but I do not miss 4:40am sunrises.

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ANCIENT REPTILE, GALAPAGOS ISLANDS

The marine iguana of the Galapagos Islands. This iguana was quite comfortable posing for me.

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They are big.

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Note the evolved nostrils. These creatures feed off of the algae on the rocks in the ocean, able to hold their breathe for up to 30 minutes. But while they eat the ingest sea water and salt. The nostrils are specially developed to expel salt.

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It is a life and death type environment, as they are cold blooded as they swim – the ocean saps the heat from their bodies weakening them. To survive, they spend hours basking in the sun, building up the warmth to go swimming again.

Charles Darwin took a step down in my mind when our guide told us that he tied one of these magnificent creatures to a rock under water to see how long it could survive. He came back an hour later and it was still alive. A reflection of the callous approach and values with regard to the world in those days.

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Beautiful creature. I highly recommend watching BBC Galapagos. Great insight into the islands.

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PIT 2, UNDER EXCAVATION

Pit 2, located 20 meters north of Pit 1 is very different. Smaller (but still 6,000 meters square), and shaped in an “L” it contains mixed military forces of archers, charioteers, cavalry and infantry. At present, a large portion remains unexcavated.

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I would think that when deciding if you wish to be an archaeologist, the first question you should ask yourself is “Do I like jigsaw puzzles?”

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Well preserved charioteers.

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TERRACOTTA ARMY, PIT 1

A few more shots from Pit 1. The front of the pit is all assembled in neat rows.

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The back is still under excavation with the soldiers being excavated and assembled.

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Saran wrap, not just for keeping your produce fresh.

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If you look closely, you can see remnants of the original paint.

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An army partly assembled. Note how each horse is different.

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A chariot partially recovered.

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One last shot from Pit 1, to give you a sense of scale.

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They still have lots to uncover.

TERRACOTTA ARMY, XI’AN

The Terracotta Army went on my personal bucket list many years go while living in England, at the O2 for one reason – seeing 30 warriors at the British Museum did not cut it.

The army is estimated to have taken 36 years to complete and 700,000 workers. At the time I did not know where Xi’an was in China,  I certainly did not think that we would be living in Tokyo (although Singapore was always heavily under family consideration), but I knew it had to happen.

It was worth the wait and the effort. Broken into a series of “pits”, with several still being excavated, the scale of the place is staggering.

Thousands of warriors, each different standing in rows, their weapon disintegrated but their bodies remaining. Amazing.

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On many you can still see the paint remnants.

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Rows, and rows and rows.

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The chariots.

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Oddly enough, this is the only warrior I saw that looked out of proportion. A charioteer.

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700,000 people and 36 years. It boggles the mind.