成都 Chengdu

We arrived in Chengdu late morning via train. We first made our voyage to the hostel, interestingly called Lazybones, located in the heart of the city. After we settled in, we opted to explore the city for the afternoon. In the evening, we ate Sichuan hotpot. For those of you who are not well-versed in Chinese cuisine, Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan province, the province which is home to the spiciest food in China. Deanna might even argue some of the spiciest food on the planet. I will get to that… This hotpot was not like any hotpot I have ever had the pleasure of consuming. There was no dipping sauce for your vegetables or meat. We mistakenly ordered too much in addition to ordering a spicy pot. Deanna could not bring herself to finish her food. She informed me I would certainly succumb to death had I ingested some of the vegetables which had spent quite a bit of time lurking in the spicy pot. The spicy pot housed both whole chilies and what is referred to in English as “numbing spice.” I even informed Deanna how her lips seemed to be slowly resembling the very coveted lips of Angelina Jolie.

The following day we visited Leshan (乐山).  The town of Leshan is not particularly interesting, but the carved stone statue of the Great Buddha (大佛) is worth the trip. It’s very touristy, but still noteworthy. This wasn’t my first visit, but still the Great Buddha is 233 feet tall; each eye is 11 feet long; each ear 23 feet; and his middle finger is 27 feet long. His head is covered with 1,021 buns of coiled hair, carved out of tapered stone blocks that fit into his head like pegs in a cribbage board. From the Buddha’s head, Dee and I had a panoramic view of the three converging rivers, the Min Jiang (岷江), Chang Jiang a.k.a the Yangtze (长江), and the Qingyi Jiang. After our encounter with the Buddha, we were hungry. We stopped in Leshan, couldn’t find somewhere acceptable, so I stopped two girls that looked about Dee’s age, but yet again it is nearly impossible to tell Chinese people’s age. They directed us to a little hole in the wall restaurant. It was your typical Sichuan fare: fish-flavored eggplant and kung pao chicken, toned down of course, but still pretty spicy for my bland palate. In the late afternoon, we headed back to Chengdu via bus. The bus terminal was a chaotic mess; a orderly line is far and few between in China. In the evening, we ventured to Jinli Ancient Street (锦里古街). The only thing ancient about this street is its reconstructed Eastern Sichuan architecture. This street was mostly built for locals, and this was apparent during our visit as the only time we encountered foreigners was at the street’s entrance (there was a Starbucks). The most intriguing part of Jinli was its alley of traditional Sichuan street food.

On our last day in Chengdu, we were panda bound. Dee’s journey to China would have been incomplete without a little visit to see these cute not-so-little furry creatures. For the sake of time and convenience, we opted to partake in a trip offered by the hostel. They took us to the Panda Reserve, the same one I visited in 2007. Not much to say besides we saw pandas. The red panda, the giant panda, and baby pandas. That evening we headed to the airport for our flight to Lijiang (丽江).

The killer hotpot. Note how many chilies and numbing spice are floating around. 
The convergence of the three rivers as viewed during our descent to the base of the Giant Buddha. 
The entrance and the Giant Buddha. 

Dee and the Giant Buddha. Funny side note: Jason described Deanna as “cute and calm 镇静[zhènjìng].
One of my favorite images of the trip. 
This family behind Dee tried to get us to take pictures with them but I refused to oblige them. 
Jinli Ancient Street
Pineapple rice at snack street.  
Jinli Ancient Street
Teahouse at Jinli Ancient Street  
Pandas! 
Just catching some rays or what little sun is able to shine through the smog. 
Panda Reserve entrance

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