Back from my trip to Chengdu, and I’m still lost as ever on the decision on whether or not to stay in China. I did love Chengdu though, it’s clean streets, polite people, and spicy food. Here’s a couple of highlights from my trip as well as something I learned from my first train trip in China.
- I ate brain. Pig brain. Sadly, no magical powers arose from its ingestion. Sichuan Province is known for it’s spicy food, especially hot pots which are one of my favorites. Rabbit head and pig brain are common delicacies for the pot.
- Saw a Sichuan Opera which proved to be one of the most painfully beautiful works of art that I have seen since my arrival in China. So beautiful that I did not take my eyes off of the performance long enough to out my camera to try and capture it. Sorry! But I can tell you that the Sichuan Opera is composed of various elements including martial arts, comedy, drama, action, puppeteering, dancing, gymnastics, fire breathing, changing faces. And flying fabric dancers. And rain. And lasers. And trap doors. There was a lot going on in the show that lasted less than an hour and a half. I highly recommend the colorful experience to anyone traveling through the Sichuan Province.
- A 17-hour train ride on hard seats is not recommended for anyone. Ever. But at least now I know, right? After about hour twelve I started to question the realness of reality, as well as my own sanity.
- If you give up on life, you can become an artist and die a miserable death. At least that was the message I gathered from DuFu’s Cottage. Every memorial dedicated to various poets in the museum all had the same idea in their biographies. They were great men who started out with high political aspirations in life, and at some point the decided to give up because they saw no hope for their professional efforts. After this realization, they decided to become hermits, resign to pastoral life, and write 600 poems about nature and peach gardens. Those were the lucky ones. Most died tragic deaths alone and disappointed with their unrealized aspirations in life. It was an uplifting exhibit. Moral of Dufu’s cottage? Only artists give up. Or give up and become an artist. Or if you fail, you will become an artist and die a sad unfulfilled and lonely death. Gotta love the optimism.
- And Pandas. Chengdu is also known for its research base for breeding Giant Pandas, and the city is splattered with panda propaganda boasting it’s famous mascot. See pictures below! For travelers considering going to the research base, I recommend going as early in the morning as possible. By eleven in the morning the place is too packed to move, so get your early hike on!