Exploring Chengdu Sichuan Province
Day 2 in Chengdu Sichuan Province: I got up early and went shopping (I am a girl after all). I bought a nice outdoor jacket and some great outdoor pants to get ready for my exposure to nature. I did not know at that time, that my natural experience would be rather short, but nevertheless, the jacket served me well during the rainy days in Chengdu.
Chengdu Sichuan Province – Du Fu’s Thatched Cottage
After my shopping spree, I went to Du Fu’s Thatched Cottage, which is a beautiful garden and museum to honor Du Fu, one of the greatest Chinese authors of all times (so they say…). Even though I did not have a clue who Du Fu was and I couldn’t read the signs since most of them were only in Chinese, I had a great time there. I strolled through the huge garden area and found many awesome and picturesque places. Another pleasant thing was that there were not that many tourists. My main attempted for this vacation actually was to get away from the big city, away from the crowds and experience some nature. Those of you who know me, know that I am not a big outdoors person, but after 4 weeks in Beijing, I really was ready for some trees and grass you could actually walk on. The weather was not too good, as you can see in the pictures, but the cloudy, misty air gave the place an almost mystic atmosphere. As I could not read most of the signs, of course I got lost. But in this wonderful place I did not care, so I must have walked every little way and path in the whole garden. I found little ponds and streams, a Chinese pagoda, and lots of other things and places worth taking many, many pictures. Some of which you can check out below in my slide show.
“Not all those who wander are lost” JRR Tolkien
After about 4 hours in this great garden, I left through the wrong entrance (of course…) and got lost again, this time in the streets of Chengdu. You have to know that many of the streets there change their name almost every block. But this little detour led me to a nice little restaurant where I enjoyed a fabulous Sichuan-style lunch with lots of red chilies and “hua jiao”, a traditional Sichuan spice that you will find in almost all Sichuan dishes. This small, round, devilish spice makes your whole mouth completely numb within seconds. I read that in the old days, they used it at the dentist as a narcotic before treatment…. Very special, that is all I can say…
Baihuatan Park in Chengdu Sichuan Province
After lunch, I actually wanted to go to Qingyang Temple, but because I showed the wrong spot to my cab driver, I ended up at Baihuatan Park. Even though it was a park as well, it was a completely different experience than Du Fu’s cottage. There were hordes of tourists and everything felt faked in this park. It was more like an amusement park than a retreat to nature. The worst part however, was the artist performing on a stage in the center of the park. I have to say that I really like Chinese music, from modern to traditional, actually everything. But this sounded like a mixture between the worst season of American Idol and a cat being tortured to death. Just in case you wonder, I did not take post any pictures of the “touristy” parts of Baihuatan Park. I could not bear it very long, so after a short little while I went back to the hotel. When I got there, I booked a two-day tour for the next day and then when for Hot Pot, which is kind of like a form of Chinese Fondue. They bring you a huge pot of spicy broth and dozens of small plate with raw food, which you then dip into the broth to cook. You can add all kinds of thinly sliced meats, fish, mushrooms, quail eggs, cabbage and noodles. It is amazing and fun to eat. Definitely try it, when you are in Chengdu Sichuan Province. Here is a Hot Pot recipe, if you want to try it at home. Back at the hostel, I went straight to bed, as the bus was leaving at 6:30 AM, I just packed everything for the tour and went to bed early to have a good night sleep.
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