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Chengdu

We left off at Shangrilia, right? I’m pretty sure but I can’t see the blog due to the Giant Chinese Firewall ™ so I’ll just have to assume that’s where we’re at.

After the Tibet plans fell through, we booked some air tickets to Chengdu. It was either that or a four day bus ride through the Tibetan tundra where who knows where you might sleep at night. That didn’t sound like fun and with budget airlines popping up all over China, prices aren’t so bad. They aren’t Ryanair cheap but, well, $75 a person or 4 days on a bus? Hard choice…

So we hopped a nice bus to Lijiang where our flight would leave from. It was a 4 hour bus ride, but we saved $70 a person and I only thought I was going to die on the bus for like the first hour. After that, I remembered that we would most likely die in a minibus and not on such a big bus. Coincidently enough, we ran into about 20 others from Redmond, WA on the bus. I happened to notice a “Windows 7” t-shirt and right away knew that this Korean worked at Microsoft. I mean, who else wears shirts like this other than MicroGeeks?

Having said that, I have to admit that the one cotton t-shirt I have on this trip is a CourtTV shirt that was given to me from somebody at , wait for it, CourtTV. But it is black and the logo is really small and it is comfy and well, Kelly makes fun of me for it all the time. Oh well.

Other than the MS guys were a bunch of Korean Christian missionaires, no doubt trying to save some Tibetan people from an eternity of hellfire and damnation. Hope that went well for them…

And then we arrived at Chengdu. This happened to be Kelly’s bday and that is one reason we decided to take her out for a $5 meal at the restaurant near the airport. Good food, actually and we even found a Western cake in Shangrilia. She seemed to be happy with her little cake, four hour bis ride, 3 hour delay and 1.5 hour flight. At least that is why I believe Mr Chow thought it would be a good idea to take the free bus into Chengdu from the airport and then figure out how to get to the airport. I mean, it was already almost 1am so I’m hoping he wasn’t doing this just to save $4 or $5…

He was hurt a bit by our begging “Please Dear God let us take the taxi we just want to get home and go to sleep i don’t mind paying the extra couple of bucks” but he gave in at the end most likely because he couldn’t figure out where the bus left from anyway.

We checked into the hotel, which I had booked online and got to our room, only to get a call moments later and long story short, we were up for another hour trying to sort out the mess of a reservation. Everybody was yelling at one point or another but finally we got to go to bed.

Chengdu isn’t really a tourist city. It’s just, a city. Capital of Sichuan and for many this is just a city where business occurs…and really good food. If you’ve ever eaten Chinese food, then you’ve probably heard of Sichuan food. It is the really spicy stuff that uses the Sichuan pepper. And it generally is damn good.

We started the day with a visit to a monk’s temple where several hundred monk live who burn dots into their forehead. I don’t know why they do this, it looks like somebody took a cigarette to each of their heads about 20 times and they aren’t really in symmetry, but even after this they are still very friendly – whereas I might be a little annoyed if somebody did that to me.

The temple was fine and all but the main draw here was the tea house. No. Not some fancy tea house, but a little indoor ourdoor area where all the old people come to drink tea, eat some snacks they brought from home and talk talk talk. Tea is all of 5 yuan and you can stay there ALL DAY and I think many do. it is great and volunteers come around and refill your glass all day long.

We were there for a couple hours and met some really nice 80 year old ladies who told us (though Mr Chow as translator) that they were all teachers in their day. They recounted stories from the Communist takeover and about their children and grandchildren and also where to eat in Chengdu. IN the end we took some pictures together, gave them hugs, got stared at by EVERYBODY, and promised to write some postcards to them (they didn’t have email :()

After that we just walked around for awhile. We noticed that everywhere you went, people were playing cards or mahjong, drinking tea and basically just hanging out. I don’t know how these people make money or get by because nobody seems to work, but it does provide for a neat little atmosphere and not something we would see again in China.

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