Dumplings and Drinking
Trip Start Aug 04, 2011
132Trip End Jan 04, 2012
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Scrap the train journey as the best day of the trip - it has already been usurped. Arrival in Chengdu and into a fresher, apparently newer city - it certainly feels that way. Chengdu is slightly further along it's metro building plan than Xi'an in that it now has 1 line that runs north to south and makes our life just a bit easier. I am not sure of the numbers but Chengdu must be a smaller city as the roads are significantly less busy and less eccentric. It's still hot but a drier heat and so we were a lot more comfortble marching from the station to the metro and delightfully (good choice of word I think) found that the hostel was just a few short steps from the metro station on disembarcation. Awesome.
Our Hostel, Lazybones, on account of the two lazy loping cats that roam the place has courteous, english speaking staff and made us feel welcome from the outset explaining the tours on offer and inviting us to the dumpling party in just a few hours. We were put at ease about our surroundings and even the 4 flights of stairs to our room didn't bring us down from our immediate liking for the place. The room, a slightly sickly shade of green overlooking traditional rooftops with skyscrapers in the near distance was without the smell with which we had become accustomed (thankfully) and had the cosy flip flops tucked under the bedside ready for our use.
A quick trip to Carrefour for a bout of stares, some socks and a selection of snacks (&pineapple beer - who would have thought!) and back to the hostel in time for the dumpling party.
We sat next to Cian and Jenny who we were briefly introduced to on check in as Cian was putting together a note to other guests about a trip to a Giant Buddha he was trying to gauge interest in. We were interested and added our name to the note at least giving us someone we could say hi to during our stay. Covered in flour, we worked for an hour in a sweatshop like dumpling production line before 30 mins later eating our produce messily with chopsticks together with some hot 'blow your head off - please give me a beer - sauce'. Well worth the experience to meet others and once we were sufficiently full we sat in a group discussing our travels and plans and necked a few Tsingtao beer (6 for 3 quid) and for me and Kate, two weeks in, it was our first experience of the fun backpacker bar atmosphere. The bar ran out of cold beer (which was quickly restocked), and Kate made her way through a few of the coctails even though I have been trying to convince her to switch to the cheaper beer alternative. Discussions of China entailed including the amazing contrasts of the place & it sent me to bed happy about where we are and what we are doing and already reminding me that we will not want to say goodbye to this great country in a little over 2 weeks.
With our Panda tour in the morning at the ungodly hour of 7.30am - we slinked off to bed just after midnight. First impressions of Chengdu - friendly, modern and homely - a breath of fresh air for a big city.