Today was a day out in Chengdu, shopping with Little Annie (Ziling) and Mrs. Huang. I overslept and was woken by the front desk calling at 9am. Obviously they hadn’t seen me leave the hotel at my usual hour of 8:15, so were asking if they could come and tidy the room rather than just barging in. How considerate. As I was supposed to meet Little Annie at 10am, I figured I’d best get a move on, and told the front desk to come in an hour. As I was leaving the room I couldn’t find my beat-up old Casio watch, which was saddening.
We went first to 锦里 Jin Li, an area near the 武侯祠 Wuhou Ci, a building from the 三国 Sanguo (Three Kingdoms) Period. Jin Li reminded me of Shanghai’s Yu Yuan, but less crowded, more relaxed, and not full of shopkeepers wanting to steal your every penny. I want to go back and spend some proper time there, and actually go into Wuhou Ci to have a look around. We tried a few snacks, including 三大炮 san da pao (three cannons), glutinous rice balls coated in a powder of something, with brown sugar syrup. I especially liked these.
Next up we took a taxi to 春熙路 Chunxi Road, a shopping street with shopping malls and vendors that reminded me of 南京东路 Nanjing East Road and 七浦路 Qipu Road in Shanghai rolled into one. And again: it was better than the Shanghai spots because it was just generally calmer. The streets are really wide, so even though there were a lot of people, it didn’t feel crowded, and the vendors were a lot less aggressive. There weren’t any people on light-up roller-skate attachments for sneakers hounding you to buy the product, or people pouncing out of nowhere to try and sell you “watch, bag?”
As I had lost my watch that morning, I was on a mission to get a new one. We ditched Mrs. Huang at a Dico’s, and hit the streets shopping. Little Annie was your typical teenage girl with an allowance: she bought all sorts of little baubles. I quite enjoyed the shopping in this area as the prices went from super cheap to reasonable (there were Zaras and Nike Stores), and there were also your requisite kitsch shops. Not as many as Hong Kong, so I might say I was disappointed that I couldn’t stock up on Cinnamoroll and Stitch knick-knacks, but hey, that’s probably a good thing. As it was I did buy one of those typical panda keychains, the ones of lacquered colours on metal, but at least this one’s mouth is a bottle opener. Form and function, form and function. I also found a watch in the end, one with numbers on a Union Jack face (in honour of my company!) and a tan leather band. It looks classy enough for work.
Afterwards we chilled in the Dico’s for a bit, finally utilising the wi-fi and the intelligence of a 14-year-old (surprising how they get stuff that those closer to thirty fail to grasp) to download a Chinese keyboard for my phone. I also set up Baidu Maps for getting around town and a WeChat account. Dico’s is a strange place. It’s a McDonald’s/KFC rip-off fast-food joint, but for all the American people plastered on the walls I’ve never seen or heard of one in my own country. Huh.
For dinner we went to another mall close to the Huangs’ residence, which apparently usually does crazy bargains. Today it was just 50% off Jack Jones stuff for men, so not applicable to us. We ate at a Taiwanese steak restaurant, where I had lamb to offset the amount of beef we ate at the Korean BBQ in Chunxi Road for lunch. Tomorrow will probably be a veggie day for me…
When I got home I found my old watch right where I thought it’d be (with the electrical tape that I’d used to repair it last night), and lovingly set it aside, for it really was far too ugly to wear with my business clothes. It should last another few caving trips, so I shall keep it in reserve, like a steadfast old soldier.
I got to see a lot of Chengdu today, which was great. There are so many places I want to go and visit, like the Chengdu Museum, 人民公园 People’s Park (although it’s guaranteed to be packed), Wuhou Ci, 文化公园 Wenhua Park, 宽窄巷子 Kuanzhai Xiangzi (Wide and Narrow Alleys), and many more. I bought a map that I’ve started marking of places I’ve been. I can’t wait to get my own place so I can plaster my walls with maps once again!
[For some reason the rest of the photos wouldn’t load, i will try later if i remember]