On Sunday, Michael had to spend the day teaching so Professor Liu had organized for one of his new students (Ping) to take me out to see the highlights of Chengdu. She had only been in the city for about 2 weeks so she enlisted her boyfriend, Zhu Ran, to join us. They met me outside of the hotel at the appointed time and we headed out on our adventure.
Ping suggested that we take the Metro so that I could experience the “real life” of Chengdu. I had been dying to ride on a Chinese subway so was ecstatic for the opportunity. I am not sure what I was expecting, but I was pleasantly surprised by the cleanliness and modern aspect of the entire event!! Security was tight and our bags were put thru a scanner as we entered. Everything had English subtitles and it was easy to see which train you were supposed to be on. Zhu Ran bought our tickets…..
….and we were off on our adventure.
Initially there were no seats available and they apologized for making me stand. When a seat became available they suggested that “we will be walking a lot today….why don’t you sit”. I sat!!
The only issue that I had with any of the trips was that the people boarding the train don’t tend to let people disembark before they enter the cars so it becomes a bit of a shoving match.
Zhu Ran said that it symbolizes long life and that each person must circle it once (clockwise) to bring health and good fortune to your family.
We stepped further into the temple area and found a large building that housed a huge Buddha. The room was filled with tables full of women (mostly) chanting the Buddhist Holy Book (the Tripitaka). They were accompanied by a high pitched beat emanating from a very small drum…..
The kids told me that, when you pray, you place your hands together in supplication, say something in your head, bow, touch your head to the pillow that you are kneeling on, and then open your hands to receive the blessing.
The next temple contained a multi-armed Buddha. I commented that it reminded me of some of the Hindu gods and Zhu Ran said that this one did indeed come from the west (ie…India).
He also taught me that you enter each temple leading with your right foot and exit with your left foot first. As well, you enter on the right side of the temple and exit on the left.
They told me that the Buddha’s each had a special area of interest and I noticed that the Buddha of prosperity, wealth and career was particularly well attended. Although Ping had told me that she was not religious, she stopped to pray before this Buddha.
The incense pits were doing a smoking business as people attempted to present a pleasing aroma to their god…..
The Hall of the Heavenly Kings was built in 1821 and the courtyard outside was filled with people doing their morning exercises. Zhu Ran said that when people are “60 or so” they become less active and start coming to the exercise areas. So, I guess I only have 10 more months before I have to join them!!!
As we were leaving the temple, Ping stopped to buy she and I a flower to pin to our clothes…..
When I asked her about the significance of the flower, she looked at me dumbfounded and said “it smells good”!!
Turtles are a symbol of long life and I loved this little boy’s reaction to a bucket of turtles ready to be sold……
We boarded another train and got off at our next stop…..the area known as “Wide and Narrow Street”. This was a huge shopping area but Zhu Ran (always trying to take care of me) told me several times that this was a place to look but not a place to buy!!! He was right as it was a fairly touristy street mall area. When I say touristy, I always think of “non-Chinese” tourists, but in this case, I was the only non-Chinese for miles around…...
I loved this wall and am reminded of the VERY boring Bamboo quilt top that I have at home awaiting finishing……
Maybe I could overlay some designs like this onto it???
The kids had promised me lots of food to try and the first was this long, stringy, brushy looking stuff…..
When finished, they looked like this…..
The flavor was tasty, but it immediately sucked every bit of moisture out of my mouth and I was desperate for something to drink.
….but it was cool and wet and I was VERY happy to have it!!
We stopped for lunch shortly after that and ordered four dishes…….
A cold noodle that was wonderful, a Bean curd dish that was also great and a spicy tofu that was ok. I never got to taste the fourth item (balls on the bottom right) as Ping tried it first and said that it was NOT good!!! I didn’t argue with her.
We continued strolling down the street with me being as interested in the old, historic buildings as I was the shops…..
They were determined that I try everything and paid for me to spin the wheel to win a prize…..
….pretty and tasty too!!!
We stood and watched the sugar artist at work and I loved the detail that he put into each piece…..
They were almost always covered up with people taking photos.
This was one of my favorites and I really loved the mixture of photography and sculpture……
However, it was rivaled by this bicycle…..
I felt extremely well taken care of during our shopping expedition…..one “minder” in front and one in back, always watching my purse and watching out for me!!
The next stop was to be Renmin Park. I asked about the word “Renmin” because I have seen it everywhere and was told that it means “Of the people” or “For the people”
Zhu Ran took us down one particularly crowded street and then found out that he had taken us in exactly the wrong direction. We laughed and turned around to retrace our steps. When we got to the other side, he asked again where the park was. I looked at him and laughed and said “let me guess….it really was the other way”!! He assured me that was NOT the case!!
The park was beautiful and serene and a quiet and cool respite from the crowded streets…..
We were heading for a particular tea shop, found it easily and took our seats at a table near the park’s central lake. He ordered lemon tea for us and then apologized as it was delivered, saying that he was expecting something else. I, however, LOVED what we had. It was served in a tall glass that had rocks of sugar in the bottom with two dried lemon slices perched on top. Hot water was added and the most delicious warm lemonade was made……
The sugar melted very slowly so as more hot water was added, the taste just got better and better.
We sat at the table and enjoyed watching groups of people playing card games and other families in row boats on the lake. We laughingly watched one father frantically try to row the boat with his wife and daughter sitting in the front, looking at their cell phones!!!
Zhu Ran said that he had two more stops planned for us but I asked him to pick one more and then we would call it a day. He chose the Jinli Pedestrian Street (another shopping type area) and, at first, I was disappointed. But, as we walked thru the area I realized that it was more of an artisan and food area and I enjoyed my time there immensely.
One of the first booths that we passed was a calligrapher. I am so enamored with the brushes that they use in their work…..
This artisan is making hand carved combs, painstakingly carving each tine of the comb…..
They were gorgeous……
There were various medical craftsmen on hand as well and this gentleman was getting his ears cleaned while waiting for his family……
The vendors selling ear cleaning would walk thru the crowd with their tools in their hands. As they walked, they would slap a tuning fork (which is used in the cleaning process) to get people’s attention. We entered into one of the largest food courts that I have ever seen and was amazed (and horrified) by some of the dishes served.
I cant imagine what “Three In Mud” is…..
….but I can probably imagine what it tastes like!!!
I caught this man enjoying his grilled "octopus on a stick”…..
This was a “Beggar’s Chicken” stand where the whole chicken is wrapped in mud and then cooked……
The ones on the tables smelled delicious!!
This Octopus (or maybe Squid) hadn’t been cooked yet but made for a fun photo…..
We had two things to eat/drink while we were in this area. The first was a drink made from fermented rice…..
It was refreshing but not a flavor that I was truly excited about. However, the second food item was magnificent. It was a plain yogurt, smooth and cold, and served in this cute container…..
Our final stop was to this “Lover’s area” which was adorned with red ribbons and amulets wishing for love……
Ping let me take this cute photo of her……
We caught a taxi and returned to the hotel, exhausted but happy about our day out and about. I tried repeatedly to pay for parts of the day but they always said no and that I was their guest…I felt VERY pampered!!
That evening, Michael and I met Professor Liu and his student, Max (at least that was her English name) for yet another spicy, tasty dinner. This was a type of hotpot but here you filled a bowl with all of the things that you wanted in the hot pot……
and then paid according to it’s weight. It was delivered to our table in one large bowl…
And as we dipped further down, we found all sorts of delightful things…..
The walk back to the hotel signaled the end to a full, rich day!!!