Chang do ChengDu

March 28, 2007 - Chengdu, China

We arrived in ChengDu around 2 pm and decided to do nothing but relaxed until dinner. We rarely pass up the opportunity to explore a new city but we had a really nice room with Internet access and wanted to kick back. Besides my throat was hurting and it appeared that I had caught my first cold of the trip. The first day was the worst and I could not afford to get a respiratory infection so I took the TriPak (zithromax) we bought in Hanoi, Vietnam. Later Terry and I found another TriPak to replace the one I used. The medications here are very cheap The TriPaks we bought here were about 3 US$ each. In the States they are over $20. It is nice to travel with a pharmacist. Later that night we washed our keens since the Chinese are always spitting on the sidewalks here. They were not dry by the next day so we had to wear cold wet shoes. Probably not the smartest thing to do when trying to recover.

Anyway, so we ate dinner and went to a cultural show that night. What a great show! The show was a variety of cultural performances including Opera, traditional music, puppeteers, and a very impressive hand shadow show. The finale was the famous “Changing face” performance. It is hard to describe without having seen it so we will include a few videos with this entry. The show was performed at a tea house. We splurged for the extra 20 yuan($3) and got the first class seats up front. There was a small bamboo table with our tea and peanuts. The attendants would come by and refill our cups with hot water with tea pots with extremely long necks. This allowed them to reach the middle seats from the aisle. Terry and I opted to wear the provided ropes for the full corny/tourist effect. Then we splurged again to get our photo taken with the cast. [Terry: Mark and I loved this show. Sitting in our bamboo chairs sipping tea made the experience even better. I constantly took video and Mark took many pictures. The hand shadow was my favorite (see videos), but the “changing face” was cool especially since one of the cast came down from the stage and stood 1 inch from Mark’s face and “changed” his mask. I wish I had that on video but I was so engrossed in what the cast was doing.]

The next morning we were up bright and early to go to Panda Adventure aka the ChengDu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. It was interesting learning about the Pandas and all the efforts made to maintain the species. There are less that 1000 pandas left in the world. We also saw the Red Pandas which look like raccoons. Having never heard of the red pandas, we were both fascinated by them. We were told before the trip we could have our photo taken with a panda on our lap, and I already decided not to since I had heard it stresses the pandas out. However I was impressed by the operation since 1) the participants wore gowns and gloves to avoid exposing the pandas to viruses, 2) the cost was about 150 US$ which discouraged the masses from participating and raised money for the care of the pandas, and 3) they rotated the pandas to minimize stressing them out. [Terry: I heard about petting the pandas and I wanted to cuddle them. Mark is very sweet and considerate when it comes to doing things out of principal (in this case, not petting the panda). I didn’t want to pet them for $150. It’s weird that I put a price limit on experiences I want to have.]

Next was a visit to Wenshu Temple. Before going in we sampled a few treats from the street vendors around the temple. So far Terry and I have not been too impressed with the temple we have visited in China. We think it is because we have been so spoiled with the temples in Japan. Terry and I went out of the way to visit the antique & art market. It was a ton of fun to walk from booth to booth looking at the antiques. I looked at several MahJongg sets including all bamboo, all bone, and bamboo & bone sets, but did not like any enough to make a purchase. Some of the vendors tried to convince me that the sets were 140 and 200 years old but I wasn’t buying it; excuse the pun. Prices ranged from 50-100 US$.

We were wiped out but still wanted to visit Renmin Park or “People’s Park”. This was well worth the effort. It was a Tues, but still the park was filled with locals singing karaoke, dancing, drinking tea, and just relaxing. We sat for a cup of tea at one of the tea houses. I had the traditional Jasmine tea and Terry the lemon tea more popular with China’s youth. In the tea house we kept hearing a clanking noise. More vendors trying to get our attention! These vendors, for a price, would clean the wax from your ear with a tiny metal “ear spoon”. Remembering what my mom, a nurse, taught me, “don’t put anything in your ear smaller than an elbow”, I declined. We had additional plans but were very tired and I needed to give my body a chance to fight the cold, so we returned to the hotel a little earlier than planned. We got cleaned up and went for a Korean dinner. Terry too had some symptoms of a cold and with fond memories of her mom making her favorite dishes when she was sick, she wanted Korean food. So we went to a Korean restaurant we had passed prior. It was nice to eat at a proper restaurant for a change of pace.

A few hours on the bus the next morning brought us to the Leshan Great Buddha at Mt. Lingyun. This is the largest Buddha in the world measuring 71 meters. It took 80 years to complete and was completed in 803 AD. It was built because many boatmen were lost to a hollow below the mountain and it was believed that the great Buddha would protect the boatmen. All the rock chipped from the cliff to create the great Buddha filled the hollow and no more ships were lost. Well at least not until present day when a few over-crowded tourist boats sank but that doesn’t count :-) We had packed a picnic lunch to eat on the temple grounds in a gazebo surrounded by a koi pond in the gardens. However, we wanted something hot so we stopped for a bowl of vegetable soup before meeting the group.


Shufeng Garden Hotel
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Tea house
Cultural show
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