Day 152: Wednesday, April 28th, 2010.
Fengdu to(bus) Chongqing to(train) Chengdu, China. Per Intrepid notes, "Days 10-11 Chengdu:
At the end of our Yangzi cruise we arrive at the port city of Fengdu in the morning of day 10 and from there transfer by bus to Chongqing (approx. 3 hrs). From here, we catch a day train to Chengdu (approx. 4 hrs) to arrive by early evening. After check in we will take a short orientation walk of the local area surrounding our hotel.
It might be one of China's biggest cities but Chengdu has preserved plenty of its traditional flavour and visitors will still find famous tea houses set in the grounds of Wenshu Temple, numerous markets and some of the most interesting food in China. If you like it hot then this is the place to be as Sichuan food is well known the world over for its spicy cuisine. Must tries are huoguo (hot pot) and mapo doufu (spicy tofu). You can catch a glimpse of the giant Mao Zedong statue on Culture Square, take in a traditional Sichuan Opera performance, poke around some of the side street shops selling all kinds of temple trinkets or spend
some time in People's Park watching locals practice tai chi. On our walking tour we will explore the Tibetan quarter as well as some of the newly restored traditional streets of Old Chengdu.
While here we visit the Giant Panda Breeding Chengdu Research Base where we are able to witness the conservation efforts being made to save this endearing endangered species. There are about 50 giant and red pandas at the base, some of which can be viewed by the public and we may even be lucky enough to see newborns taking their first steps in the nursery! On our return to town, we can stop at the Wenshu Temple where we have the option of sampling a vegetarian meal made from recipes the monks have followed for thousands of years."
So we get off the boat and after climbing up many many stairs with my 40-45 pound backpack, we get to the top and there's a van waiting to haul away my almost dead body- and everybody else too. Can't really remember much about this day other than travel travel travel. At the train station, everyone grabs lunch at McDonald's (I pass- still trying not to eat 'til I
get to the destination these days.) Then, myself, Amavalise, Paul and Steve head over to an Internet Cafe. They don't have wifi, and I can't plug in my laptop, life is hard. In order to use the computer, we have to let them scan our passports. A little freaky, but don't think any of them can pass as me so I'm all set. They tell me computer 86 (or something) and indicate a back room where it's located. Luckily Amavalise and Paul are already there- so it was only kind of creepy. The couches we were sitting on looked like they had just been dumped out of a frat house window and I swear we all started itching after a few moments. Stayed and itched for about 30 minutes and then it was time to catch the train. The train got up to 200 kph (about 124 mph). Cool, I guess, but I don't know how fast trains normally go- I would have guessed about that. Shows what I know! During the ride, Steve and I turned our chairs around and played cards with Gloria and Bruce- passed the time nicely.
We got to Chengdu, dropped off our bags
at our hotel, Chengdu Jiulong Hotel, and that night we headed out to try some Hot Pot
! And from that, I learned that it really ticks me off to pay a restaurant to cook my own food. Mixed in with the fact that I kept splashing myself with the hot oil and the two pieces I ate were still kind of raw, hot pot is not for me. Everyone else loved it, even Sue who managed to burn her fingers pretty good but grabbing a plate that was right next to the burner. The staff brought her some water along with some "Ancient Chinese Secret" oil that was supposed to help with the burn- it worked! After they had all had their fill, we wandered across the street and I grabbed some McDonald's to go (felt like a little kid, they had the grown up dinner and then it was time for the immature one to eat) and they stopped at Hagen Das. It was funny- they were all on a spicy food high or something (Chengdu is known for its spicy cooking)- it was like they were drunk. But in the fun, laughter stage. Took my McD's and we headed
back to the hotel. Tomorrow- pandas!
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