Chilling in Chengdu

Trip Start Sep 05, 2010
Trip End Aug 21, 2011

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Where I stayed
Sims Cosy Garden Hostel

Flag of China  , Sichuan,
Sunday, January 16, 2011

The spoilt chubby Chinese princess decided that early mornings were the best time to talk loudly so it was an early wake up in Cabin 5 of the Lhasa – Chengdu express. Within the hour we arrived at Chengdu station, 44 hours after leaving Lhasa in Tibet.  It had been a great train journey but  we were ready to get off and head on.  The lengthy process of unloading all of our luggage and once again reconstructing the bikes took a good hour but then we were happily back in one bit and ready to pedal out of the station into the land of China.  First we had to negotiate several flights of stairs and some narrow gates, we can now safely say after a month of very little cycling that biking around the world is no worries until you introduce trains, buses and planes into the equation.  Anyway, the arrivals zone at the station was good fun and we exited to a sea of puzzled onlookers.  An entrepreneurial young girl approached us selling free city maps. We had a good chat with her and satisfied her by buying some of her lollipops.

It was drizzling and we were keen to find our hostel.  This was easier said than done, maps and signs were in Chinese and the roads, despite looking very organised, did not seem to allow for actually crossing.  We found ourselves edging along a jammed fast lane with funny Chinese people saying out of their windows words to the effect of "what are you doing here, there are perfectly good cycle lanes all over the place.  And why the hell are you wearing shorts, it is snowing?!".

We did get ourselves on the correct cycle lane and enjoyed cruising through the city.  We were well on our way when suddenly, two electric mopeds (which shared the bike lanes with cyclists) had a head on collision just as they were passing us.  One poor guy came off and actually started to cry.  It was a very sad moment watching a fully grown man sob like a little kid who has just grazed their knee on the playground.  The other chap, whose fault it was as he was heading down the one way against the flow, seemed pretty uninterested and looked as if he was simply going to drive off.  “Oh no you're not mate, you just made this man cry” I thought to myself.  I started demanding that he pay for the damage to the sobbing man’s bike.  This grew a crowd and we left it happy that enough people were around to stick up for the poor little Chinese man who had a hurting hand.

Arriving at Sim’s Cozy Garden Hostel, we immediately knew we had made a good call. It was a lovely place with such a welcoming atmosphere.  The room was warm and we dumped all of our stuff and set about getting ready for departure on the bikes tomorrow.  Top priority was to fix the worn gear cassettes.  We asked at reception for directions to a bike shop, unbelievably a girl interrupted and said that there was a bike technician hanging around outside.  She translated our needs to the young man and he seemed keen and confident that he could fix them up.  Result.

Happy with our work we set off into Chengdu for a wander around.  It was a really fun exploration.  The locals continued to freeze in amazement when they saw me in my shorts out and about in the bitter winter conditions.  We enjoyed a Starbucks treat and bought a Mandarin phrase book to try and start breaking down the immense language barrier.

Back at the hostel we once again satisfied our need for home comforts with a couple of beef burgers followed by a good chat with G and C back in Williams Road and a DVD in bed.  Happy days!
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triciagick on

Think you should send a copy of the 'no tossing' sign to the boss of the Bombay - Jaipur nonexpress x

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