Our train from Xian to Chengdu lasted about 13 hours. We arrived at our hostile with no problems and again we found a very nice and cheap hostile. This hostile, called the Lazy Bones Hostile, also had a restaurant with western food, a bar, decent rooms and cost us (each) less than 10 U.S. dollars a night to stay there… again SWEET! (Sorry I forgot to take pictures of this hostile)
Immediately after arriving, the first thought on everybody’s mind was… FOOD! Chengdu, being located in Sichuan Province, is known for it’s very spicy food (particularly it’s hot pot dish). For those that don’t know, hot pot is special dish that can be found all over China. When you eat hot pot you are brought a big pot filled with boiling oil (either spicy or not spicy) and you cook raw food (meat, vegetables, seafood, noodles, etc.) in the oil at your table.
Oh side note… for this blog post there is no new Chinglish word, but I do have a new term that is useful when traveling Chengdu. In Chengdu restaurants, if you want to get your waiter’s attention, you say “老板” (lao ban), which means “Boss.” This is different from Beijing restaurants in which you would say “服务员“ （Fu wu yuan), which literally means “service employee.” I do not know why there is this difference, but according to a friend we met in Chengdu, saying “Lao Ban” is the way you get a waiter/ waitress’s attention in Chengdu.
So we tried the famous hot pot dish at a restaurant that had been recommended to us by the hostile staff. It was very good and spicy, but I didn’t realize exactly how much oil is used. Not only do you cook the raw food in the oil, but afterwards you let it cool down in a small bowl filled with cold oil and spices (or at least that’s how we were told to eat it at this restaurant). Again it was good, just A LOT of oil.
Next day we got up very early (around 6:00) to go see the famous Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Center. This place is not only a reserve, but also (as you can probably guess by it’s name) a panda breeding center… Yes I saw baby pandas.
After our trip to the panda reserve, our group went to a park in the center of Chengdu called the “People’s Park.” In this park there were a number of people ballroom dancing (Awesome!) and practicing martial arts. There was also a small lake in the park where you could rent a rowboat. But, my favorite part of this park was a small tea shop near the lake that served good jasmine tea, and also had a number of men walking around that came up to us and asked, (I’m not kidding) “May I clean your ears?” Having never been asked this question before, I was a little taken aback, but eventually since no one else in my group wanted to, I said yes and had my ears professionally cleaned.
After getting my ears cleaned, we next came upon a large group of people standing around a stage where a man was dancing and writing characters with a huge brush on the stage simultaneously. The man saw me grabbed my hand, pulled me up on stage and had me dance with him for a while. It was a blast! Afterwards he took the giant brush, wrote the characters “中国“ (Zhong Guo- meaning China) on the stage and then gave me the brush to see if I could also write characters. To many Chinese people’s astonishment, I wrote the characters “美国“ (mei guo- meaning America) on the stage. They were all so excited that I (an American) could write Chinese characters.
Overall, there was a lot of excitement and fun in Chengdu in just these first two days. (Now do you get why I divided up break into multiple blog posts?) The third day in Chengdu was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had since coming to China…