Trip Start Dec 25, 2008
141Trip End Dec 25, 2009
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I found Chengdu a lovely city to visit although not everybody would agree as I later met other travellers who didn't like Chengdu at all and thought it to be quite dirty. I spent several days just wondering around and getting lost in streets but discovering many interesting sites and smells. I found the parks to be all quite different and all very interesting. The people's park, so well named, where it seems that everyone was trying to outdo the other in all categories: dancing, singing, playing musical instruments, drinking tea
Another park which, if I remember correctly, is River Viewing Pavilion Park had lovely walks along bamboo lined trails. This is a park where every afternoon the men bring their birds so that they can chat and sing together and it looks like the men get caught up on gossip and playing board games. So very interesting to see and beautiful to hear all the birds chriping away. The Culture Park is interesting for the Green Ram Temple that is there and close to it is the DuFu's Cottage. DuFu was a very popular Tang Dynasty poet who seems to have lived quite a humble life and inspired generations of Chinese artists.
There is also the endless number of Temples and all quite interesting each having its own set of sculptures and wall paintings
What was nice about staying at Sim's Cozy Guesthouse was that it had easy access to city buses and great bus lines as well to day excursions out of Chengdu. One day, I took a local bus to the Great Giant Panda Breeding Research Base about 10 klm out of Chengdu. It was a great day trip and it was really interesting to see these big cuddly pandas. They are in a nice park where numerous Chinese family visit and have a picnic here. Lonely Planet indicates that it is tricky to get here but a couple of streets from Sim's you get on a bus that takes you right to the gates of the park.
Another day trip was to LeShan where you will find the biggest Buddha which is carved into a cliff. There are also several other interesting sights in this park including some great carvings and scultures in caves and a Temple with numerous steps leading to it. Of course I came from the opposite end of the park and had to go down the steps to get a view of the Temple, then had to climb the steps back up to get back into the park!!!
Three days before leaving Chengdu, I met this lovely Taiwan born lady (Tracia) who's family moved to the United States when she was 4 yrs old. She was in Chengdu on her own while her husband was on a course (for his Master's Degree) in Beijing. It was great fun to meet her and we hooked up for a day trip to visit the Sanzingdu Museum which is about 40 klm out of Chengdu. According to the Lonely Planet this museum is regarded by some Chinese archaeologists as more important than the terra cotta warriors. This is a major site of the kingdom of Shu which is considered to be the cradle of Chinese civilization in the Yangzi River area. The museum was really worth the visit and having a travelling "buddy" made it also so much more pleasurable. We definitely had some great laughs and shared some little amusing incidents which can only add to any adventure. Back in Chengdu, we decided to go find a massage place which was recommended by Sim's Guesthouse. Stopped for snacks along the way (great stuffed steam bread) and although we did not find the Massage place we did find another one that gave such a great foot massage that we decided to back an hour letter for a full body massage. Of course the price was right and I believe both the 30 minute foot massage and 1 hr body massage ended up costing a total of 15$
This part of my trip (in China) which had been totally unplanned before leaving Canada and was to be just a means to get to Tibet ended up being a great discovery for me. I totally enjoyed and love Yunnan province. The people are very friendly, always willing and wanting to help and the countryside is amazing. I must say that Kunming is still my favorite city because of the amenities of a city as well as great countryside just a breath away.
During my entire visit in China I would always be so suprised at the end of each day to have accomplished/visited everything I had set out to do /visit in the morning without speaking or reading the language. Again, the Chinese I met were always so helpful in writing out destinations . . . that I could just kind of put in everyone's face (!!!!) and myself have that kind of facial expression asking/pleading for help. Somedays it took a little more asking, or a little longer ride but everytime I ended up where I wanted to be. It was another amazing month of travel and this time discovering the Yunnan Province in China. Next stop, Lhasa Tibet.