We took a flight to Chengdu, which is one of the largest cities in China now. It is the IT centre and a part of the government's move to industrialize the interior of China. As soon as we landed, our somewhat grumpy guide Michael took us for lunch in a large restaurant where we got kung pao (this dish was repeated all over China). We then headed to the Panda centre (the Kung Fu Panda movie is one of our favourite animation movies, so Chengdu had to be on our trip). The pandas were as lazy as expected. Coming from Canada, where bears do kill people, it was charming to see the more traditional teddy bearish bear. We were not offered the photo session, and I wasn't planning to ask. Here I had the first experience of being asked to take photos with (not of) a couple of hippie looking kids. In the next few days, I was going to get quite used to this!
The next stop was Jingli street, and old town section of Chengdu. There were food stalls, antiques, touristy items being sold in the narrow streets with traditional buildings on either side. We tried Chinese tropical fruit ice creams, which was nice. We then ended up in a traditional tea house, where we had green tea. It was a large place, and a nice touch. We then went to our hotel, the Sheraton Lido, which was a really nice hotel. We tried the famous hot pot - though the food manager told us that this was a watered down version. It had the famous sichuan peppers which numb one's tongue, though don't burn like Indian or South American chillies. Awesome!
we had a huge breakfast, and then headed to see the Leshan Buddha. It was the weekend, and very crowded. It overlooks the Minjiang river, and is supposed to be the largest carved Buddha in the world.
We then headed to the airport. We had to frantically look to buy panda bear dolls for the children of our friends. Luckily the airport had some. Our flight to Lijiang was uneventful. The airport was one of the smaller ones in our trip. Also, they do check one's baggage tags to make sure people are not taking other's bags.
It was a dark ride,on a narrow highway (the main highway was under construction). We came upon our hotel, which was fantastic. The Lijiang Crowne Plaza is on a large property. It has Naxi (a minority nationality) style mansions, where there are a few rooms per mansions. The rooms were really large, with Bose speakers, DVD players and other goodies. Our guide Truong, the best we had in China, then offered to accompany us to dinner, even though on our schedule we were supposed to that on our own.
The food at the Blue Papaya restaurant was excellent. We had cold chickpea jelly as appetizers, followed by a hot pot and spicy fried river fish. All cooked in local style. For dessert, there were sweet thick pancakes.
We went to the Old Town. It reminded me of Venice, with the cobblestone roads, little rivers, and cute little stores. There were also windmills, and a town square. We then went to Mu's mansion, which was a palace and and also contained a Daoist temple. A funny incident took place here-Truang and I went to the washroom. On our way back, he over heard a group of Chinese men talking. He asked my wife if they took a photo with her. She replied yes, though they didn't know English and had to use gestures. Apparently, what Truong heard them say was that they had to English, so they could talk to foreign chicks! An absolutely good reason to learn English!
We also saw the Dongba museum. For dinner, we returned to the Blue Papaya and had another hot pot.
was a cold rainy day. We went up the Jade Dragon Snow mountain. There was an impressions of Lijiang show directed by the same person who directed the very impressive Beijing Olympics. There were free rain coats, and the show was impressive, with Chinese cowboys, in traditional Naxi outfits. What surprised me is that we were allowed to skip the several hundred long lineup (in the rain)for the cable car because we were foreigners!
We went to the Yu Feng lamasery, which was Tibetan style (Lijiang being close to Tibet). The Tibetan priest was fascinated by the fact that we were originally from India. He kept repeating Indu, indu (the Chinese name for India). Our next stop was Baisha Mural, which was an art school. The murals are pretty expensive, but the ladies were nice.
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China Trip Report October 2011- Part 2: Chengdu and Lijiang