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Good Evening Chengdu

We paced outside the moderately sized, but very crowded domestic terminal of the Chengdu airport. I searched for our bags amidst the ordered chaos and Scott downloaded GPS data.

Chengdu Airport.JPG

We had been told by the hostel to take bus 300 to the end of the line, but discovered it was nowhere to be found. After much garbled Chinese, and a call to the hostel, we just boarded the closest bus and after a long ride through traffic we were downtown.

Chungdu is huge. The smog lies thick and the men in the city generally remove their shirts to beat the heat. At the very least they pull the shirts up so as to release their paunches for radiation. It was just these fellows who we found lounging around the bus stop at the end of the airport line. A number of them vehemently marketed their moped taxis, thrusting there stomachs out like birds in mating season, and pleading in Mandaran. When we gestured towards our large backpacks, the gentlemen, gestured to their mopeds, as if to say “are you telling me my moped is too small?” We left these people and began to walk in what we thought was the direction of our hotel.

As we walked, we gawked at Chungdu. Once again, I reach a Chinese city and find that it’s doing just fine. People in Chungdu are quite obviously getting rich. They are dressed well, stroll on clean streets, where giant animated advertisements hang liberally on the sides of structures and old stone walls, and everywhere people are building. The skyline is as much marked by cranes as it is by the many skyscrapers.

An 85 cent taxi ride brought us to the entrance to the giant pedestrian mall which surrounded our hostel. This promenade proved to be as modern and sheik as something you might find in Tokyo or Paris, with fancy restaurants, tea parlors, and shops lining the walk. Our hostel also proved to be very modern and more like a hotel than a backpackers flop house.

Dragon Town Youth Hostel.JPG

We deposited our things in the room, which included a private bath, tiled ceiling to floor with tiny blue square tiles. A shower head simply extended from a point on the wall, making the whole room double as a shower.

There was no time to dally, as we were dying of hunger. We attempted to follow Jie’s precedent and ask for a recommendation as to where to eat. But when we articulated that we did not wish to have hot pot, all lines of communication were lost, and we simply headed out into the city. We left the posh pedestrian mall and headed for the less touristy neighborhood, we unsuccessfully consulted a number of locals. It was not that Scott was unable to ask for a good restaurant, it was that everyone that we asked seemed to own a restaurant of their own, as so was biased. So we fearlessly strode into a restaurant full of Chinese people yelling, drinking beer and eating all manner of fish, amphibian, and innards. We boldly ordered “something spicy, a dish that is not fish, and two vegetables.” And out they came. Both meat dishes proved to ragingly hot and consist more than 50% of oil. Great.

Duck Necks.JPG

One was a showcase for the lower portion of a number of duck’s heads, stewed in  oil, spices and chilies. The other was a similar treatment of prawns. I began to feast relentlessly. Scott fallowed suit initially. But soon he was sweating and turning red. I too must admit, the dishes were massively spicy.

Fruit Shop.JPG

In no time, though, we were strolling through the well lit, tree lined, and smog hazed streets of Chengdu, sweating out the chilies. We talked about humanity, about China and the US, and about the forces which drive the future of our planet. Exhausted by that, we retired to a bar at the top of a giant hotel, which looked out over the expansive and sky scraping city. The place was decorated in such a way that no one would have been surprised to find Phillius Fog himself holding court at one of the dimly lit tables. So we ordered a deck of cards and whiled away the rest of the evening at whist.


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