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