I left Thursday afternoon and arrived later that evening after a 2hr 20min flight from Tianjin. First thing about Chengdu that I noticed was the weather. Chengdu is located in South Central China surrounded by many mountains thus making the climate very hot humid, and rainy. Chengdu at first glance seemed much like the other cities I have visited so far but after being shown around, the city has some very unique features. Chengdu may be a smaller city compared to Beijing and Tianjin, but in my eyes seems to be more clean and better kept. I got to visit a market similar to the Ancient Street here in Tianjin but this market was instead centered around a small river/creek. It was really amazing seeing all of the different shops such as people who clean your ears to ancient Chinese scrolls. The people also were very friendly and everyone seemed to be happy. I learned a lot about the city and its people here in my first night in Chengdu.
My first full day in Chengdu. Somehow this city seems to get more humid with every passing hour as making the slightest movement results in instant perspiration. Before I left everyone told me about how Chengdu is known for its amazing food and how spicy it is. This pleases me, as so far I have been disappointed with the spiciness of food in the Northern cities. My friend tells me that if there is one thing to eat while in Chengdu, it is hot pot. Hot pot is a Chengdu specialty that serves a large pot filled with spicy oils and large peppers, onions, and other herbal spices. You are given a menu with a lift of raw meats and vegetables to choose from that you can throw into the pot. Thankfully, my friend who is fluent in Mandarin knows exactly what to order. The pot is placed on a burner in the center of the table which eventually brings it to a boil. When the meats/vegetables arrive, you toss them into the boiling pot and wait a short while for them to cook. After about 5 minutes you start picking up the pieces of food that you tossed in and eat it. Instantly I become aware that this is the most spicy thing I have consumed while in China. I'm sure if it wasn't already sweating from the insane humidity I would be from the spiciness of this meal. I also learned that there is a tiny pepper seed in the hot pot that actually makes your mouth go numb and tingly. My friend orders a round of milk to soothe our mouths but not just any kind of milk, peanut milk. This milk has a very sweet but delicate taste but almost instantly cures any burning from the hot pot, if it were not for this magic milk this meal would have been a bit more difficult to consume. So far Chengdu has lived up to its hype.
Today's schedule entails a hike up a very famous mountain outside of Chengdu, the name escapes me at the moment but it is known for its Taoist temples and beautiful scenery. Though the mountain was beautiful and lush, but today's real adventure was the trip to the mountain. To get to our destination, it requires a 90 minute bus ride through the country side. Having purchased out tickets the day prior we were ready to go upon arrival at the bus station. All of the bus lined up look like the typical large travel bus, such as a Greyhound so we were thinking we would be able to enjoy a nice long ride to the mountain, maybe take a nap. This was not the case. Our bus by far was the smallest, oldest, and most worn down vehicle at the station. Just boarding it made me nervous as it made strange noises from the weight of the passengers getting on. Just taking a look at our driver and his crazy eyes made me instantly regret getting on the bus. The bus somehow started and we were off. Every time our driver applied the breaks the bus produced a horrible screeching noise that made me contemplate jumping out of the window. After getting on the highway in the country side our driver decided that slowing down at intersections was a waste of time and instead just honked the horn as we approached them. Taking wide turns was horrifying, there have only been a few times in my life where I genuinely thought I was going to die, this was one of them. The bus at times felt like it was on only two wheels, even other passengers, non foreigners had looks of horror on their faces when we turned wide going 55mph. Eventually we made it to our destination, but I think it would be safe to say that I did not get much sleep during the trip.
Sunday was a very uneventful day as it was my last day in Chengdu. In the morning I attended a Catholic sermon with my friend, though not a Catholic myself, I thought it would be interesting to see if there would be any differences on how Chinese ran mass. The church itself was fairly similar to those in the states, it seemed like it was recently built and had the stainless glass, alter and everything else that comes with a traditional Catholic church. The hymns and sermon both were in Chinese so my level of comprehension of what was going on was 0. Everything seemed almost exactly the same to the last time I went to mass which was many years ago. It was interesting to see that even the locals were dressed the same as someone in the states would dress on a Sunday. Though I didn't understand any of it I'm glad I went to experience something familiar to me from home in a foreign country.