The end is near! The Mayan calendar, which rolls over into a new 5,125-year period on Dec. 21, has been taken by some to portend an apocalyptic global event. Among those around the world who have bought into the hype is a Chinese man, Lu Zhenghai, who spent his life savings on building his version of Noah's Ark.
Lu is from the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, in northwestern China on the border with ex-Soviet Central Asia. That's the farthest location on Earth from any ocean, but that fact wasn't enough to deter him: According to RocketNews 24, a Asian newsblog, Lu has spent the last two years, and roughly 1 million yuan ($160,500) on building a vessel that he believes will save his life come Dec, 21, 2012.
Lu, a enthusiast of ancient cultures, heard about the supposed Mayan end-of-the-world prophecy in 2010, and started investing in his survival. An experienced boat builder, Lu designed the ship himself and is confident it will survive what he expects to be a globally devastating flood.
His "ark," however, is far from biblical proportions. At just over 69 feet long, 51 feet wide and 18 feet tall, (21 by 15 by 5 meters) it certainly won't fit both genders of every animal, but will be large enough for his family.
Though the external structure built from wood and steel is there, the ship is still far from complete. Images from inside the boat show that solid flooring has not been put down, and several pipes and beams are still exposed.
(One of the three diesel engines, for a total of 540 hp, that will power the ship once it is completed. Source: RocketNews24.com)
Lu is concerned that his boat may not be finished by Dec. 21, so he needs to spend the next two weeks furnishing and stocking the ship and finishing installation of the three diesel engines. The expensive engines have been paid for, but he estimates the costs of finishing the boat will set him back an additional million yuan, money he currently does not have.
As his savings have been drained, many skeptics expect he will be stuck with a large boat and no money when he wakes up Dec. 22 on dry land.
But Lu recognizes that the flood may not occur, and has a backup plan. Lu lives near the Tarim River, which runs through Xinjiang, and believes he can capitalize on tourists and sightseers, or at the very least provide a ferry service on the river. What's more, in the event of a flood -- not the apocalyptic kind -- Lu says his ship can help rescue those affected.