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Fieldwork in China

Posted on 05/09/2011
Wedding crashers

On 2nd August 2011, Tom and I left for Xi’an, China to collect samples for the project. When we arrived we immediately got taken for a massive meal with Professor Lu (our main Chinese collaborator), four students (Zhung Lin, Fung, Li and Chang) and the drivers (Li and Wu).  Straight away Driver Li challenged Tom to a drinking competition which would be held later on the trip. The next day was pretty wet, which meant we could not do fieldwork as it can be dangerous on loess. This was pretty new for me; I had done all my previous fieldwork in Scotland where it rains a lot of the time! Instead, we did a bit of site-seeing and tea tasting.

The next day we went to Lantian, which is a section covering the last 11 Ma. We collected several samples from the Red Clay up to the uppermost loess layer L1. I did my first ever sampling with a spade! We had our first spot of car bother on the way to Lantian and as we headed to our next section, Laochuan, it seemed to be a re-occurring theme.

The Laochuan section was one of the most beautiful places on the trip and the town was very friendly, Tom and I even sampled some Chinese opera! We spent two days in the apple capital of China before heading north on the long trip to Baode, where we got slightly diverted to a town called Zichang by one of cars breaking down. Zichang was very welcoming, maybe too welcoming judging by the hangover we all had the following morning. Needless to say Driver Li won the drinking challenge!

We eventually arrived at Baode after driving past trucks for over 100 km! Baode was not one of the most picturesque parts of the trip, but sampling went well and we even rescued some dwarf horse fossils from a local farmer before they got turned into Chinese medicine.

After Boade we headed to the section at Jingbian, stopping for one night at the goji berry capital of China where Tom amused local ladies by buying an enormous bag of goji berries! Jingbian was an extremely dry and sandy section which made it very difficult to tell the difference between soil and loess.

We were now heading into the last part of the trip. We went to Beiguoyuan where Tom had sampled for his PhD. The farmer and his family, who owned the section, were extremely excited to see him again and took dozens of pictures.

The last section we sampled at was Lingtai, were we spent two days sampling in some really sticky clay. We also discovered an amazing Chinese breakfast of tofu in spicy sauce with fried bread. We managed to get back to Xi’an a couple of days early and spent some more time site-seeing (including the terracotta warriors!) and drinking lots more tea. Driver Li took us out for what seemed to be another drinking competition in a German themed gentleman’s club – which he won again!

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