Chengdu Week One

Trip Start Oct 04, 2009
1
6
Trip End Jan 18, 2010


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Flag of China  , Sichuan,
Tuesday, October 6, 2009

My life so far..

Its my first week now in Chengdu and i'm happily smiling to myself that i've managed to survive! I don't think words can really express just how different life here is compared with London. China is poles apart, initially it was really was hard to get used to not having my basic home comforts and I felt so homesick for the first few days. Most of all I longed for my home and a room which had proper heating and windows that was water /sound/wind proof! Jet-lagged aside, I do feel that I am beginning to adjust to the way of life here and travelling by myself in Chengdu is not as daunting as I once thought it was going to be.

So far it has been a total eye opening experience for me. Everything is foreign from the whole getting used to speaking mandarin day in day out, (I managed even to pick up a few sichuan words too!) getting up extremely early by my standards anyway (around 6.30am!), not having any windows in my room (glass is expensive, so I've just got screens that let wind in, I usually freeze my butt off at night so I haven't really been sleeping all too well plus the 24hr construction outside does not help either), eating lunch and dinner really early(normally around 12noon and 6pm),not being able to understand most local people at all! and finding my way round a huge huge city where one small street on the map is in fact a wide as an A1 road! I have learnt that hailing a cab here is a big challenge, not only are there very few, but you have to be so alert. You literally have a split second to catch one as within a matter of minutes its usually taken. This is a tactic that I think only a few locals can master, and I for sure cannot

My accommodation is basic but I can’t really complain because not only is the rent fairly cheap but I really enjoy living with my host family who are always so caring about my daily needs and make every effort to make sure that I’m satisfied and safe. [ live in a teachers residence quarters as the mother and father are both teachers in some form or another. They have a spare flat opposite theirs where I stay together with the grandma (婆婆) and an IT guy whose hardly ever around. Every day婆婆 makes me breakfast at 7am, she uses an old rice cooker to steam/boil/cook all sorts of things! At 7am on the dot she comes to my room and tells me 吃了!and still half asleep I head to the makeshift dining table in her room to gobble down her delicacies. So far its been mainly steamed buns (包之), steamed egg with pickle and 湯元。
I've begun to get to know Lei Lei  雷雷 (the daughter of my host) much better now and i think it helps as she does know some english. She’s a Yr 2 student and her halls are outside Chengdu, although she often comes home on the weekends. As last week was their national holiday so we spent a lot of time together which was lovely. She’s a really bubbly, kind hearted person, always willing to help me in someway。I guess she also enjoys my company too and she tells me she has never spoken so much English in her life!! I’m glad she’s eager to learn and just the other day in the supermarket she was constantly pointing out stuff and asking me "what is this called in english?" by which I would reply and then ask the same question in return. As a result i think we've both been learning a lot and our brains were frizzled by the time we got back home we didn’t say much and just slouched on the couch and stared at the tv for a while!

First Day at work….

I met Mr. Yang, the site manager for the first time on friday straight after the national holiday. As he is the only person that knows a little English, by which in fact is only like 10 words or less!! He is my main contact and liaison for this project. The rest of the guys are part of the contractor’s team and don’t really say much to me as I think their Putonghua is not too good and I don’t understand their Sichuan dialect either. On site, they’re currently laying the foundation so not much in the form of architecture to see, Mr Yang tells me that hopefully in 2-3 weeks time the main structure will start to be up. Apart from that, I’m curious about meeting the kindergarden students whom this building is for, but Mr Yang advises me that I’ll have to wait till next week when school re-opens to meet them as they’re all on holiday still. He seems like a descent guy and is incredibly patient with my very broken mandarin and baby explanations in Putonghua!!  Looked over some drawings and got my computer step up in a rather empty makeshift office. My room faces onto a persons home with small vegetable patch, cute little white dog who sleeps all day long and a set of caged roosters who crow every half hour or so!! So I do properly feel like I’m working in a farm and its was slightly bizarre at first to get used to! The team is miniscule compared to what I expected, (only 2-3 people overlooking the site progress) so it is quite quiet here. Nonetheless Mr. Yang is always willing to make conversation with me and inform me about everything I need to know!



First Weekend in成都!

My first weekend in Chengdu was great. We met up with Wang Tao’s cousin, Wang Ting who showed us round his university 四川大学 which is like a mini city itself equipped with a huge sports centre that looks like a national stadium and blocks and blocks of apartments for teachers and students. We then headed to Jin Li Road 金里路, a historical street that’s been preserved with lots of shops, food stalls and well kept architecture. Just like雷雷, Wang Ting was eager to improve his English, and seemed to know a lot of hilarious ways of expressing things! Instead of describing something vertical he would ask me is that an erection?! And then he asked me if he liked this girl could he call her his 'potential target’! He made me laugh so hard my stomach started to hurt. Hopefully I’ve steered him in the right direction and provided him with some better words to use in the future!!

On Sunday, I ventured off by myself to another historical place that was full of old traditional tea gardens (宽窄乡子 kuan zhai xiang zi).
These are now becoming my favourite places, and I can see why Chengdu people can spend hours on end relaxing, chit chatting and drinking tea here. Often these tea gardens have beautiful surroundings, and is a peaceful refuge from the bustle of the city. I spent most of the day here, visiting all the tea gardens, shops and finally picked one and did some watercolour drawing for the rest of the afternoon..



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Where I stayed
Qin Li's Residence

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