Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Day Out in Chengdu

Today we walked to People's Park in downtown Chengdu. I don't get too excited about parks because I - being American - naturally assume they'll be full of drug dealers and vagrants. But not so in the PRC!
First off, we made for the children's area because Lonely Planet said it had some sweet rides. Sweet rides weren't LP's words, but that's how we interpreted it.
We tossed down $20 RMB for a whirl on this rotating car contraption attached to a track about 12 feet off the ground. It had an engine/no engine option so you could pedal or just enjoy the ride - and it was horrifying, my stomach was full of butterflies. Not whee-I'm-upside-down butterflies, ah-I'm-on-a-ride-in-the-people's-park-in-western-china butterflies.
After that we went to one of the park's several tea houses. We sat by the koi pond and watched steam curl off our cups for a couple hours, there were people chanting/meditating a ways distant the whole time. A couple fortune tellers came up offering their services. I told the first one "we're Christians" and he ran off like he was afraid I might start sharing the good news. The second wouldn't be dissuaded and pitched us for a good three minutes despite repeated attempts to make her go away. I think I need to stop smiling when I say "No." The trick is to be gruff about it, it seems mean - but you save them the time.
On our way out we passed a dozen groups of old Chinese ladies dancing, brass bands playing, people singing, and a few impressive games of badminton. It was wonderful.
Afterward we walked to a Buddhist temple and ate imitation twice-cooked pork (potato) in the attached vegetarian restaurant.
And that was our day! We're off to the Sichuan hinterlands tomorrow, probably out of blog contact for awhile.

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