Tuesday, March 22, 2011


I had a lot of fun here, mostly due to my very sociable host, Gregor. I arrived here much too early in the morning (6am) and it was pitch black, and once the sun was up any hope of orientation was lost because Chengdu is covered in cloud so thick that identifying where the sun comes from is impossible. I ended up waking up poor Gregor after a long night on the town around 9.30am, very unsociable of me. After breakfast he soon sent me off to a nearby Buddhist temple which was fully of Chinese people drinking tea and chanting. It was a very calming, serene place and I thought this would be a lovely place to come on a regular basis. Too bad I am neither Chinese nor Buddhist. I then visited the statue of Mao saluting the crowd in the main square. Many Chinese tourists were taking their photo in front of it. He is still much revered in China, despite the sufferings he caused. Later Gregor took me out to meet his other expat friends (there are some 2000 expats in Chengdu apparently) for great Sichuan spicy food and a tour of Chengdu's bars. Feeling a bit worse for wear the next day we toured round the Tibeten quarter, trying to find a certain restaurant, half the fun was finding it. I was really impressed that all Gregor's friends (and him of course) speak such good Chinese. It's definitely a difficult language to learn, but it's also possible. I have already had more success than I expected getting Chinese people to understand my Chinese, OK it's not as easy as 'Quiero un cafe por favor' but it's definitely do-able in context. Also Chinese people seem so happy if you make the effort, it makes it all worthwhile. I have become a big fan of Chinese people. St Patrick's day in Chengdu, was quite a night with live music, and more celebrations than I have seen in Blighty at any rate. It was a lot of fun, but the hour and 10 minute run I did the day following took a while to blast away the cobwebs. All in all it was quite difficult to leave Chengdu!

Buddhist incense burning at the Daci Temple

A cat joining in the rituals

The tea house at the temple, packed on a Saturday

Chanting in the temple, they walk around the temple in formation, chanting as they go

Good ole Chairman Mao

A small park where people bring their caged birds (maybe so the birds can have a chat too?)

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