Sunday, April 4, 2010

What to do in Chengdu

Wenshu YuanI almost missed my flight to Chengdu this morning. I was supposed to leave my Bejing hotel at about 5:30 am and set my alarm for 4:30 am so that I would have enough time to pack. I woke up without an alarm, decided to check the time and noticed it was 5:15 am. The alarm I set was for 4:30 pm! I quickly got out of bed, packed my things and showered by the time I received a phone call from reception to notify me that my airport taxi was waiting.

The flight itself was only two hours. I started up a conversation with the man next to me, once I realized he spoke a little English. He moved to Beijing from Chengdu for work. He was telling me that a lot of people only get a week of paid vacation in China. After ten years you get two. That seemed pretty bad, I wonder if it's true. As we approached Chengdu, I could make out some extremely high mountains in the distance. The Himalayas perhaps?

I got to the hostel, put my things in the room and went sight-seeing. I went to the nearby Wenshu Yuan, a Buddhist monastery. It wasn't too big and I got through it fairly quickly. There were a lot of monks, tourists, people praying and some just taking advantage of the quiet park within the monastery walls. I took a few pictures then sat down for a meal at one of the restaurants within the monastery's grounds. A vegetarian restaurant serving dishes that would normally be done with meat. In some photos on the menu, they even shaped the ingredients to look like meat. I enjoyed a Sichuan style soup, which wasn't as spicy as I thought it would be.

Sichuan soupRight in front of the monastery there is a kind of reconstruction of an old Chinese town. A China town? It seemed to be an amusement park of sorts, with locals eating candy, playing games and buying useless trinkets. It was all a bit odd. To get back to my hostel, I took a few back streets and went through a nice little street market.

When I got back to the hostel and realized I forgot the cable for my netbook in Beijing. I was too rushed when I packed. At first I was quite upset and a bit stressed. I really didn't like the thought of having to carry a dead computer in my backpack for the rest of my trip. Also, I like keeping my blog going and without the netbook I would have to use internet cafes. That's what I've done in the past and it's a lot more effort, time and money. I got a little mad at myself for not checking the room over before I left, but decided to calm down and just see if I could find a cable locally.

Explaining my problem to the reception at the hostel, they showed me an area on the other side of town that had a lot of computer stores. I hoped into a taxi, pointed on the map and I was off. The taxi dropped me off right in front of a computer store. I went in and within minutes they had my netbook hooked up and ready to go. They only charged me fifteen dollars for a new cable! I was so relieved.

Staying at this hostel is quite nice. The staff is extremely informative and there are a lot of travelers coming through. Sitting in the lobby is just like watching the world come to you. I talked to a girl from Israel, a couple from England, some folks from Australia and Japan, it was quite nice. I think tomorrow I'm off to Emei Shan to do some hiking and perhaps stay a night on the mountain.

Wenshu Yuan (Buddhist monestary):

Door decoration


Monestary structure

Monestary structure

People playing chess in the garden

Monastery library

Outside the monastery:

Reconstructed Chinese town

Street market:

Street market

Street market


Unknown said...

Hi Marko, the experienced world traveler!
Well done, that you managed finally not missing the flight to Chengdu in the last minute, but no problem losing your cable for your laptop.
I wonder if you plan going to the Tibet. If yes, do not forget having a look to the Kunlunshan mountain range from the far distance. It is a mountain system of western China extending from the Karakoram Range eastward along the northern edge of the plateau of Tibet. Its highest point is 7729 m. Read some phrases about the Kunlun:
Far above the earth, into the blue,
You, wild Kunlun, have seen
All that was fairest in the world of men.
Your three million white jade dragons in fight
Freeze the sky with piercing cold.
In summer days your melting torrents
Flood the streams and rivers,
Turning men into fish and turtles.
Who has passed judgement on the good and ill
You have wrought these thousand autumns?
To Kunlun now I say,
Neither all your height,
Nor all your snow is needed.
Could I but draw my sword o'ertopping heaven,
I'd cleave you in three:
One piece for Europe,
One for America,
One to keep in the East.
Peace would then reign over the world,
The same warmth and cold throughout the globe.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad you were able to buy a new cable Marko as I am really enjoying your blog. Your taking the time (especially when you're so tired) to keep this up is greatly appreciated.


Marko said...

Aarmaan, unfortunately I will not be doing Tibet on this trip. It's quite close to here, but it requires a special permit. I figure maybe I can save that for another time and perhaps combine it with Nepal.

Terry, glad you're enjoying it. It makes my trip more fun when I share it with friends.

Anonymous said...

I too was told that Tibet required a special permit but I was able to buy a plane ticket in Chengdu! Having tried 3 previous times to get to Tibet I jumped at the chance.

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