From Lhasa, Tibet, I planned to visit Chengdu, China, which is in Sichuan province and essentially in the middle of present-day China. I had originally thought about taking the train, but I ran into 2 problems: 1-the train to Chengdu only runs every other day, so I’d have to pay to stay an extra day, and 2-that extra day was now the day that all foreigners were being forced out of Tibet. I was able to find a cheap flight, luckily, and wound up in a shared van to the airport with some people I didn’t know. Of course, this was after my hotel once again asked me for proof that I had paid, and I showed them my receipts in a not-very-nice-manner, since it’s not my fault they don’t keep good records. This was at least the 5th time we had talked about what day I was leaving/had I paid for all of my nights?
I had planned to eat at the airport, but the prices were 8-10x more than what you’d pay outside the airport, and there was no way I was going to pay those prices. I bought a cup of coffee, so I could get a wifi code, and then wasted the 4 hours until my flight started boarding. I thoroughly enjoyed the urinal signs, though.
The boarding and flight weren’t so bad, but the landing at Chengdu was insane. We were still taxiing on the runway, but people were standing up, collecting their things, and lining up at the door to get off. Unreal and unsafe to the max. Apparently, this is rather normal on flights in China.
The hostel had provided good directions on how to get from the airport to the hostel, so I rode the airport express bus into the city (taking lots of pictures) and then walked about 10min to the hostel. Also, the express bus not only had great signs, but it was running on some crazy time zone that was way past my bed time. Mrs. Panda hostel is really nice, clean, friendly, and has good prices. I liked it a lot.
The walk along the river to get the hostel looked nice, so I decided to walk along the walking/biking path after dropping off my stuff, took some pictures, and stumbled onto a kinda-fancy vegetarian restaurant nearby. The funniest part was when another white person showed up, and we kind of looked at each other like, “No, I don’t speak Chinese, so don’t count on me for translating.” Xinxiang Sushijie was good, but it’s no better than other places with lower prices.
I woke up pretty early, without meaning to, and ate a British breakfast of beans & toast at the hostel before walking around the city for a while. I wandered without much real direction, but I turned toward the 88 Vegetative Lifestyle restaurant after a while. It was nice and seems to have a bunch of youth center-counseling-information stall stuff going on, but I was only interested in the restaurant, which I’ll describe as “pretty good, but not great.”
After lunch, I veered toward Tianfu Square, the central square surrounded by a giant shopping district and this huge statue of Mao Zedong.
The afternoon heat, mixed with lots of humidity, was getting to be too much to handle, so I returned to the hostel to do some work and wait for my friend A, from Costa Rica, who was due to arrive that afternoon. I also took some fun pictures of bad English along the walk.
That evening, we decided to go see the giant Buddha in Leshan the next day and took the metro to the South train station to buy tickets for the train the next day. On the way back, we were talking about how little fresh fruits and vegetables were included in the Chinese diet we’d been following lately, so we decided to stop at Subway and load up on fresh vegetables on our sandwiches. It was delicious—more so than I remembered Subway being! Also, the chips tasted like freedom.
I did some other things in Chengdu that deserve their own posts, because of the sheer amount of pictures I took, so this is a short one.
Next post: visiting the giant Buddhu in Leshan.
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