25.11.2013 - 27.11.2013 15 °C
So, Monday I lost the biggest building in the world (by getting off at the wrong metro stop). I topped that on Tuesday by losing an entire motorway/ring-road - by not recognising that the thing I was walking under was the very thing (second ring road) I was looking for. I needed it because the Industrial Civilisation Museum was just the other side. So, I walked fruitlessly backwards and forwards, getting more and more frustrated (the only consolations being that I found a very nice patisserie for coffee and croissants and I was very amused by these
law firms, all lined up on the street) until I decided, bugger it, I'm walking back into the centre, along the bus route I had come out on. At least this meant I finally spotted the Walmart which I knew to be right next door. Lots of people were using the space in front of it for exercise and dance
I resisted the (surprisingly low) temptation to go in, and also managed to resist the temptation to go into this restaurant
Unfortunately, either the Industrial Civilisation Museuem is no more, or it is an elaborate joke, because to me it looks like a building site
I spent a wee bit of time in the neighbouring East Chengdu Music Park, so named because blokes like this one bring their amp and sing karaoke al fresco
But it was nice to finally see some greenery in the city
and I watched these guys spin their tops by whipping them (they produced an unearthly sort of music as well) - judging by the fact that some had bags and thermoses, this might have been an all day activity
Lots of badminton was being played as well
I don't really know why, but I decided to walk back from here to where I am staying, right in the centre - it is about 7 km. It really gave me an appreciation of just how huge Chengdu is, as for the entire walk, it looked like I was walking through the CBD - lots of malls, commercial buildings, traffic and a constant string of highrise apartment buildings like these
Coming at my digs from a new angle, I found things round the corner which were quite good to know about - two coffee shops, a ramen joint, a purveyor of donuts and something which made it very easy to get dinner - essentially a cafeteria where all the food was laid out in bowls for me to select, with no language barrier. I ate splendidly for about $8 - the shiny green things in the bowl on the left are chillis: I ate the lot, but had a bit of a problem with the Sichuan peppercorns, because they leave you with a wierd sort of stinging (because they're quite potent) numbness (yes, a complete contradiction, I know).
All in all, Tuesday was not the most successful of days, so I was a bit concerned about Wednesday - I had a very special destination in mind. I probably could have taken a tour from the hostel, but they wanted to go quite early and, well, I quite like touring about on local buses. From the internet, I had gathered that I had to catch three seperate buses to get to my destination - the first two were fine, but the third never showed. Luckily, I had another bus number in reserve, and when one turned up, on I hopped. I was most entertained by the two older (i.e. my age) people sitting in front of me, on opposite sides of the bus (completely unrelated, as far as I could tell). First one and then the other received a cell phone call, and they both went through the same procedure. The first point to make is that they didn't have ring tones, they had ring shrieks. Their phones, quaintly, were in tight fitted knitted pouches - so the shrieking went on for some time. Then the shouting started - ==WEI== - to answer, and then prolonged very loud conversations which people three buses away could probably hear.
Anyway, I finally arrived at my destination - I didn't come here because of it, but once here, I could hardly leave without visiting
could I? I took my time, inspecting the grounds
Swan lake (with its fishes)
and having lunch before going in search. Initially, I was disappointed, going past several enclosures without seeing anything, and beginning to wonder if coming earlier would have been a good idea (it happened to be the hottest day I've had so far in China) but eventually I run into a few pandas
The wee cubs were absolute darlings (I actually have some video of them, but can't upload at this stage), but aren't they just the cutest things?
There is a brand new cub, just a month or so old, which a sign said was being brought out for people to see while I was there but unfortunately I never managed to see her.
So, I did pretty well - but then on the way back, I took a different bus and got so lost I had to get off, go into a mall for some wifi in order to work out where the hell I was: I was convinced I had gone way west of the North Railway Station but, oddly enough, I was just a block from my hostel, which is right in the centre of town.