English Teachers' Central, China
Trip Start Oct 18, 2006
117Trip End ??? ??, 2008
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Chengdu is another really cool city - we were blasted by the change in culture once again. Just by slipping into Sichuan province, the nature has become rich and amazing, the people as friendly as any in China, and the food to live for. We checked into a cheap hostel full of the China-traveller types - English teachers, extreme hippies, ex-expats, and so on - none of the normal vacation-types one meets in Southeast Asia on the backpacker trail
Chengdu's strange octagonal multi-ring-road planning made navigation occasionally challenging, but there was no shortness of delights around every corner among this Chinometropolitanesque city. The first thing we bumped into was a large monastery on a lovely tourist-directed sidestreet with vegetarian restaurants abound. Wherever we looked, however, we were for lack of western tourists. It seems that the Chinese/Korean tourist industry has really picked up. While there are plenty of hostels here, most of them are a jumping off place for those heading to the three gorges, Tibet, or big attractions in other parts of Sichuan. There are quite a number of Foreign English teachers, though. Every English teacher I met in or around Sichuan was either from Chengdu or Chongquing, and there were a lot of that kind of traveller
At any rate, Chengdu is a cool city with enough to please the passer-by, and with enough life to sustain someone living here long-term. It has all sorts of little oddities, like the lovely vegetarian cobblestone street, the Tibetan area, a large steamship-office block in the middle of the city where one least expects it, a rocketship on some northern street, an imposing Mao statue with an excessively long reach (more ways than one!), a large concrete park with water and light shows, and tons of parks. Heck, they even have the exciting Panda breeding institute and ancient villages in its surrounds, where such illustrious pictures as Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon are filmed. What struck me the most, though, was how friendly Sichuaners are. One is far less likely to get lambasted for calling someone's mother a horse whilst repeating ma ma ma ma. The tones don't seem to matter here, as people just seem to want to talk to you.