As I write this, a group of mostly middle-aged ladies are doing a synchronized dance with fans outside the apartment complex where I'm staying. Rock on, Chengdu.
Also, I'm staying in an apartment complex. We've stayed in Airbnbs too, but it seems like Chengdu at least (maybe all of China) might not have needed it. I booked the "24k Warm Inn" ("warm" is certainly not what I want, but the reviews were good) on Ctrip because it's near the train station, so I can leave on an early bus tomorrow. Rolled up, and ... there's an apartment complex. Much confusion later, and my terrible 10% Chinese, and this lady finds me by the apartment's security guard booth. She and her husband, it seems, have a largish apartment, so like 3 of the rooms have become the "24k Warm Inn." Hey, works for me. By the way, make sure you have phone service if you travel to China; some things are impossible without it. (Have I mentioned how great Project Fi is?)
But I digress. Had to say bye to my lovely traveling companion and wife (!) Tati this morning as she heads back to do more Facebooks. I offered to come back with her, but she said, heck no, if you can get the time off, do travel more. (have I mentioned she's great?) It's been a lot of fun traveling together, though, and I miss her already.
Also saying bye to this lovely city Chengdu tomorrow morning. It's been fun. Here's what you should do if you go to Chengdu and don't have a better guide than me:
- see the pandas, of course; this can be like a 2 hour thing
- hang out in People's Park just to see what's going on. Teahouse visit required, ear cleaning optional.
- you know eat everything of course duh - I'm sure I'll blog more about food later
- skip Wuhou Temple and go to Wenshu temple instead: more interesting, fewer crowds, more teahouse
- speaking of crowds, gosh, skip Kuan/Zhai Alleys and Jinli Street. Entirely tourist traps. They are described in ways that sound good, "neat alleys full of cool cafes and shops etc," but they are so crowded and not even interesting.
- instead, go to Xiaotong Xiang, a few streets north.of Kuan/Zhai, and have a coffee or four in a cute cafe.
- ask me for a couple of restaurant recommendations, and an Airbnb rec, if you want, I can try to give them to you in ways that you can look up and find
Feel free to stop reading here; the rest is just upcoming travel plans.
Tomorrow I'm off to a bunch of places with both Tibetan and Chinese names: Lhamo/Langmusi (via Zoige/Ruo'ergai), Labrang/Xiahe, Rebkong/Tongren, and Xining. Heading north from Sichuan into Qinghai, which sounds like the Wyoming of China. Tackin' on a few days in Gansu (the Utah of China?) on the way back, stopping in Zhangye and Lanzhou on the way back to Chengdu to fly home. I did a weird thing in that I actually cut this trip short - I had planned to come back on the 24th but I'm coming back on the 13th instead. That seems a little strange; didn't think I'd ever really want to do that, but I'm excited to get back to my life with Tati, our home, SF, and the PhD. That's a good thing, I think.