Chengdu Paparazzi- when the watcher becomes the watched

 

It was a late start this morning with a bit of a sleep in before breakfast at the hostel in Chengdu. Two full english breakfasts and coffee the back to the room to pack the bags. The hostel were really good allowing us to store our bags in the storeroom and lock our valuables in the safety box.

We wandered down to the bus stop and caught the number 28 bus to Wuhou Temple. The bus stop is outside the gardens which adjoin the temple area. We wandered through and found a huge temple with an exhibition along with tea rooms and different monuments etc around the grounds. off to one side there were some fancy market stalls so we decided to take a wander.

There were all sorts of foods on sticks, sweets, carved wooden things, jade jewellery, crossbows, clothing you name it. These stalls led to really old buildings converted into restaurants some with really expensive menus and a few fast food chains filled with pimply faced teenagers.

Along the side of the street a small tree and adjoining pergola were covered in tiny silk bags attached by red silk ribbon a magnificent sea of red. The symbol of true love?

The Wuhou temple was the usual cash cow, costing ¥60 to enter. It was a nice temple but utterly devoid of any spirit. Like most of the temples we’ve seen lately this one isn’t actively used by locals for worship, except for the god of money. The temple was devoted to the consolidation of the three Kingdoms with a few shrines and a museum containing bronze weapons, ceramics, early eathenware statues and other bits and pieces.

 

After wandering around the temple we went down to the adjoining market area of Jinli street. It’s a thriving area full of old and new buildings made to look old. The whole area was bustling with crowds of people. We stopped at a restaurant for lunch ordering Thai Chicken Wings, Smoked Goose Salad, and Curried Chicken and Rice. The meals were really tasty, especially the smoked goose. The smoked goose was a breast sliced into nice 5mm thick scallops. While we were sitting enjoying lunch people were stopping and snapping photos of us it was quite hilarious. We started playing cards while we drank our coffees people passing were amazed. They’d stop watch us trying to work out what game we were playing and snap a few photos until the outcome was decided and then wander off. (Michele even had an old crazy woman giving her advice but it didn’t improve her game.lol) Heaps of people especially young kids wanted to have their photo taken with us.

Chengdu Markets

We went for a walk around the markets to check out the market stalls. There were all sorts of odd foods like smoked baby chickens, you name it it was on a stick. The toffee stall was our favourite with a choice of whole strawberries on skewers, crab apples on skewers and the top and bottom of crab apples with walnuts between on skewers all dipped in crispy toffee, just like toffee apples same same but different.

We spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out at a local bar, where locals were drinking all sorts of tea and smoking shishas, listening to a local guy playing guitar. All was going well until the answer to Bulgaria’s Got Talent Ken Lieb started doing a duet with him. Was she awful, you betcha. She couldn’t hit the notes even if she had a cricket bat. She was flat as the Nullabor, and the more she sang out of tune the more the locals clapped. We didn’t know if they were her drunken friends, taking the piss, or a sad bunch of masochists. Unable to listen to this lady who couldn’t carry a tune even if it was in a bucket we left.

Sadly for a lot of locals still waiting to get their photos taken with us “Ron and Michele had left the building.”

We walked back to Chairman Maos statue, had a coffee and caught the bus back to the hostel. We grabbed our backpacks and caught the bus to the station, where crowds of people were still milling about sitting with their gear.  It turns out they’re all looking for work and hang out at the train station, they’re ready to go when an employer turns up. I thought it was a communist country, sounds more like early last century in every capitalist country.

The waiting hall was packed with hundreds of people from all areas and ethnic groups, talking, laughing, eating and throwing their rubbish on the floor. The place was absolutely filthy. The lady next to me was eating sunflower seeds and happily spitting the outer shells on the floor. The one thing most visible was that everyone was looking at us and not being shy about it either.

When the gate opened a mad rush started with people jostling for position. After the crowd had thinned we joined the queue, passed through the gate, found our cabin and met two Argentinians, Carolina and Christian.

They were a lovely couple on holidays travelling through to Xi’an before heading to Beijing. We taught them Skip-bo and spent the rest of the night playing cards, laughing and chatting. It was a great way to pass the time. Tomorrow Xi’an

 

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