– We’ve more or less decided on our Chinese itinerary and it’s become necessary to fly to a few of the remaining destinations considering their distance. Despite the negative dent in our budget and my habitual resistance to air travel during these long-form journeys, it simply makes more sense in a country the size of China and given our time constraints, as well as the current obstacles posed by bus and train travel (which costs roughly the same, takes some multiples longer, and lacks any straightforward reservation system).
– Chengdu’s one of the more ‘Americanized’ cities, as we arrive at night and ask directions at a fancy hotel, the helpful clerk kindly writes us directions on a piece of paper – which turns out to be, upon inspection of its reverse side, the distinctly legible photocopy of a Japanese citizen’s passport.
– Have a good laugh when, at the hostel, we overhear another backpacker trying to figure out online booking for trains and whiningly pleading the hostel receptionist who’s helping him: “Are you sure these are seats, not standing up?” (Read more about train rides with ‘unreserved seats’)
– Street-crossing remains the national sport, and by far the most dangerous activity available. A daily pedestrian’s life expectancy can’t be much greater than that of a coal miner, just as the risks of pulmonary disease.
– Building, building, building; substantial investments have been poured to develop Chengdu and its surrounding area, just like the rest of the country. Steroids on steroids as it may.
– Unfortunately, the country’s spectacular building spree and developmental skills are yet to be equaled by their mastery of urban planning.
– With warmer weather still, and green-leaved trees at least, we’ve gone from freezing to summer in the matter of days.
– I wish we’d had more time, haven’t seen much nature and landscapes, or spent time in rural areas, though most of the country still revolves around agriculture. The Chengdu area is reputed for its surrounding mountainside and Yellowstone-like National Parks. O China, I will return!
– Visit the pandas at the Breeding Center. We hop on the wrong bus on our way out after pointlessly walking through fields (as I mistakenly sought to ‘satisfy’ my above concern).
– We ride the local bus southwards to Leshan, smaller town, and find the Great Buddha carved in the cliff, sitting, sharing his restful repose.
– (Tibetan pilgrims wander about, pungent is the smell of the unwashed rags of internal purity.)