Things to do in Chengdu!

Trip Start Jun 08, 2005
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Wednesday, July 6, 2005

My journey between Shanghai and Chengdu took 38 hours; I have come to the conclusion that I actually love the train travel - a perfect opportunity to simply relax and live off the basic biological functions (basically a good excuse to be really lazy and do nothing!). The trip was uneventful really, I spent quiet abit of time amusing a spirited young 3 year old girl who thought I was just wonderful. She was a real little cutie, a bright little girl full of spirit and activity. The children here are generally very serious and placid, so this little one was quiet outstanding.

I am pleased to say that I have slimmed down alittle though - the reality is Asian spaces are made for Asian faces and there's really no place for fatties around here! For a start you feel like you're taking up too much space in a country that already has to accommodate 1.3 billion people and then there's the practical side of things associated with size; getting into small places (like hard sleeper train cells) is so much easier when you're smaller in a world where space is at a premium! Thank goodness it's hot, thank goodness I am shrinking!

I have been alittle dubious about having too much to do with the animals in China, it's quiet clear that the Chinese really have no idea on how to correctly treat an animal. You don't have to look very far to find kitten's tied up to lamp posts with pieces of string and all sorts of other unacceptable care. Unlike other Asian countries there aren't dogs roaming the streets here which is nice but I guess that's because they are probably on the plates... !! Anyway, to the point at hand... I have really wanted to see some Panda's, but haven't wanted to support the zoo's which are apparently particularly depressing to visit. Much to my delight there's a Panda research center here in Chengdu, so I took the liberty and went to visit it. As far as enclosures for animals go this was pretty good, 36ha of open enclosures housing 30 Giant Panda. The Panda were all very beautiful, aged 6 months - 22 years. The 6 month old Panda's were just like real life teddy bears, absolutely adorable. The animals looked healthy and well fed and the only thing that was separating myself and the Panda's was a large moat and a knee high fence. The Panda visit took Chengdu off to a great start!

A day trip to Leshan introduced me to the biggest Budda in the world! An truly impressive sculpture of 17.4 m in height carved into the cliff side overlooking a tretrous river. It's gradure was astounding and I am proud to have seen it. It was during my trip to Leshan that I met a whole group of really great people that I have since been living it up with. Included in that group were a great couple (Tom and Donna) from Timaru - also heading through to the UK. They were able to fill me in on all sorts of news from home... right through to the Fonterra Takaka plant burning down! Tom and Donna are a great couple and I was disappointed to bid them farewell today as they headed south to Dahli. Hopefully I will see them again in the UK.

The hostel has been great with fantastic staff and a great little cafe to hang out in and chat to other travellers. To add to the interest there's a quirky Irish guy who's been living in the dorm for the past 2 months, doing nothing! He's a true modern day hippy and he's been quiet interesting to chatter to, abit of a change from the routine travellers that float in and out of Chengdu for afew days (like myself!). Prior to living in the dorm here he spent 12 months living in India - also doing nothing! Let's just say I don't like the chances of him moving on in a hurry.

The parks in Chengdu are fabulous, they are much like our botanical gardens but abit better in my opinion. Traditionally hey have large teahouses where you can buy bottomless green tea (purchase the tea and a 2L flask of water to keep refilling). Loads of people just hang out and relax drinking tea and playing various Chinese games. The ponds are bubbling with beautiful goldfish that you can feed, there are bonsai galore (at last I have found ancient bonsai!), orchid groves and row boats to hire. The parks are heaving with families feeding the fish, old people drinking tea and school children practicing art but they still posses a peaceful serene feel.

Yet again I have also made the most of getting the odd massage done... a must while in China! I'm off to Xi'An on the night train tonight, simply described in the Rough Guide as 'A small town (population 6 million) - home of the Terricotta Warriors'. Looking forward to that.
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Comments

frederic0
frederic0 on

What's interesting
Hi, Susan.
I read some parts of your travel blog and I must say that you gave very nice impressions about the faboulous Kingdom of the Middle.
Four months ago, I have been in China for four weeks (so many 'four' aren't good at all for Chinese supersticious culture!) and I still love it.
My trip has been quite 'ordinary' in respect of yours, because I just visited the most important towns from the economic point of view: Beijing, Hong Kong and Guangzhou.
But I always daydreamt to go to Sichuan province and its capital Chengdu. I couldn't, but thank you anyway for getting me there through your tell and your eyes.
My question is: you wrote about massage and I wonder why so many girls working in this field (foot-massage, body-massage, scrub, ...) come from Sichuan. A Chinese friend of mine, once, answered me that it's because Sichuan has the biggest and most important School of Massage of the country. But I can't get a confirmation from the books and the travel guides, about that.
What do you think about it? Isn't perhaps because Sichuanis are poorer than elsewhere and your nice girls are forced to move aways making this profitable job?

p.s.: I am a man and you are a woman. I know what you 're thinking : 'Here 's another perverse sex traveller who visits cheap whores and massage centers abroad!'. I know there are many. It's a shame. But it's not me.
Bye!
frederic

susan_g
susan_g on

Re: What's interesting
Hi,

Thanks for your comments, interesting. Yes, from memory I do believe that there is a well renowned school in Chengdu. I guess this may have put an emphasis on massage within the city, but then again the city is also known for its Panda's and proximity to other amazing attractions such as the Giant Budda of Leshan.

I don't think that poverty is linked with traditional Chinese massage in Sichuan because massage is simply a part of Chinese life and helps define the Chinese culture, not only in Sichuan.

As for 'other' types of massage (usually linked with hair dressing salons)maybe you are right surrounding economic pressures and the line of work that girls across China (Sichuan) can get involved in. Central China is very poor though, but I'm not really qualified to comment on the economic drivers surrounding their choices (or lack of choice).

Cheers
Susan

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