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Published: September 27th 2013
The Sofitel Wanda puts on an even better buffet breakfast then we’ve had yet. Choice of both waffles and
pancakes, many flavours of yoghurt, and eggs hard boiled, fried, and poached. The baked beans are labelled correctly.
This part of the story I am hand-writing, initially, in the car on the drive to Dujiangyan. It’s a bit difficult to write as this road is, in asset terms “very very poor”, and it feels like a mini roller coaster ride. It’s a bit of a surprise to me as most of the roads we’ve seen so far have been in very good condition. Ky and I are sitting in the back seat, and we regularly get airborn as the car goes over large depressions. Coincidentally I actually spot a roller coaster and ferris wheel on the way out of Chengdu.
We arrive at Dujiangyan, a city to the west of Chengdu, after about an hour. The “Dujiangyan Scenic Spot” has many old buildings, with typical chinese shaped roofs. However in this case the dragons on the roof peaks are larger, and the animals on the crests are more detailed, with the usual dragon head on the corner replaced by a
large carved point. Under the eaves are carved animals in addition to the usual painted details.
Through the entrance is a large expanse of gardens on each side of a long walkway decorated with statues of people who contributed to the project. The gardens are worth a visit in their own right. They hold a huge array of bonsai, both in pots and in the ground, along with many fantastically molded and joined trees.
In one of the temples is a 3D model of the main focus of the visit: an irrigation scheme dating back 2,500 years and still in use. The scheme involved diverting 40% of the Minjiang River towards Chengdu, by very simply setting a level at which water naturally flowed into a man-made fork in the river. If too much water is flowing through, a later fork set at another level rediverts the waters back to the main river. In recent times, the city has grown so much that more water is needed, so a weir was installed in the main river to ensure more water goes to the city. The visit includes a pleasant walk along the main island, and crossings of rope suspension
bridges that sway and bounce. A number of pagodas are sited on the steep hills, in some cases protected from collapse (due to earthquakes) by large concrete and pile restraints on the sides of cliffs.
After the visit, we grab some fruit at a local store. Four sweet bananas and two huge apples cost only ¥14. This is a snack lunch that we eat on the way to the next stop: the Jinsha Site Museum.
We have to use the back entrance as the front is blocked by security staff – again that conference! The Jinsha Site is where apartment builders unearthed evidence of habitation by the people living there 3,000 years ago. Apart from a large collection of pottery and human remains, there are some remarkable jade carvings, elephant tusks, and gold leaf. I take a liking to the sun and phoenix symbol found carved in gold leaf at the site (see pic). The symbol has been adopted elsewhere in the city, and I see it later on some street corner umbrellas.
Back to the hotel, where the boys watch TV while Ky and I walk past the Champs Elysees and try out the four running
machines. These ones face out large windows to the river and street, better than others that only faced walls or TVs. The pool and spa look great, but we don’t end up using them.
For dinner we head outside, towards a “Carre Four” mall that we can see from our room. It is raining, but nice to be out on our own. The walk to the mall turns out to be quite interesting: we walk down a street filled with shops selling goldfish and koi. At the mall is a KFC, and inside a number of chinese restaurants and a food court. But everything is in Chinese, no English, so KFC again it is. The mall has a nice range of clothing stores, and in one corner the Carre Four department store like one of our Big W or Kmarts. We finally find the undies for Liam we’d been looking for, as well as some extra socks. I am determined to continue my studies in Chinese, and buy an all-Chinese book to translate: it is Ekhart Tolle’s The Power of Now (¥20). Translating will be easier as I have the English version! A wet walk home, and we pack
up ready for the drive to Leshan tomorrow.
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