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Published: August 29th 2017
Geo: 30.67, 104.07
Wow, I've learnt a lot in these past few days! Yesterday was a fairly uneventful day - 5 of us were somehow on 4 different buses back to Chengdu which meant that the journey was likely to be pretty dull. The scenery went someway towards keeping me entertained though. At one point in our 8.5 hour journey we totally stopped and got stuck in a giant traffic jam- I had no idea this was possible, there were barely any cars on the road! Anyway, whilst we crawled along at a pace which would not frighten any snail, I noticed some destroyed houses at the side of the road. It looked like the people had literally just upped and left. There was washing hanging outside, cars in rubble driveways, doors hanging off partially there hinges, corn drying on partially there rooftops. I was a bit confused as to what was happening- I half wondered if they were destroying the houses for reconstruction until I saw the remains of a road and a road sign just hanging into the river. It was then that I realized that we were in the middle of the site of the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake. It shows just how devastated this area was if they are still cleaning up/rebuilding 5 years later. Pretty humbling part of the journey.
Upon arriving in Chengdu I met up with the rest of the people I was traveling in JiuZhaiGou with and we went out for hotpot dinner (my favorite!). Basically it's a huge boiling pot of soup and you add in whatever you fancy, wait for it to cook, dip it into your hand-made spice concoction and Bob's your uncle. I ended up eating duck blood (nice taste, strange texture) and pig intestine (ditto) and I politely refused the cows stomach on the grounds that I've eaten it too many times and still don't like it. It's like chewing rubber. The hostel here is great, everyone is super friendly and so we whiled away the evening comparing card games. I have some good new ones to teach!
Fast forward to today and I spent the day with people from yesterday wondering around the city. Chengdu is a pretty standard city. It has the usual 'traditional' shopping streets, temples, and poet houses. The thing that makes it really stand out is the food- spicy with a hint of the mouth numbing 'mala'. I'm not entirely sure how to translate it (Ben?!) but I think the closest thing would be to eat spicy peppercorns- delicious with beef! We were eating spicy noodles at lunch and sharing a table with a guy from Beijing who then insisted on paying for my lunch as a way to 'welcome me to the city'. He was only on a business trip there himself! Still was very unexpected and as much as I felt very guilty, it was a lovely gesture! So my accommodation tonight was supposed to me a nice soft chair in Chengdu airport (6:30am flight!!) however I was having so much fun talking to people at the hostel that I didn't even try to make the bus. A great bunch of people spent the evening talking and drinking tea with me so that I wasn't alone all night (谢谢土豪们!). This was super nice of them considering id only met some of them tonight and the others 2 days ago. I learnt a lot about Chinese culture, some Chinese slang words (finally!) and the balance of saving money and spending it traveling!
Im off to wake someone up to go to the airport & then Lijiang, Yunnan province in a few minutes. No sleep tonight but I'm armed with coffee and chocolate so all is well!
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