Tuesday, January 29, 2019

10 Jingli Ancient St, Chengdu

If anything screams tourist, no where does it better than Jingli St. Also
known as the "First Street of the Shu Kingdom", Jingli has been lovingly
restored to its former glory. well kind of. You can walk through the
streets and alley ways and admire the traditional style buildings that have
been brought back to life in a commercial kind of way. Now their purpose is
to house shops, tea houses and theatres that take you back in time. Many of
the crafts are demonstrated and displayed to tempt you to buy.

Whilst here we were taken to a Chinese Theatre. Hosted by a Chinese Harry Potter look alike, we were entertained by singers, dancers, acrobats and jugglers. The highlight of the opera was the performance of Face Changing. Dating back 100's of years, skilled dancers perform magically changing the colour and appearance of their face / mask so quickly, that is just too hard
to determine how they do it.

The one thing I found when Chinese speak, it is monotone. No highs or lows
to convey feeling, no facial expression to signify happy or sad. Just
sentence after sentence with no pausing for breath. Of course, this made
things difficult to understand what was going on. So, while Harry spoke
nonstop, 2 men in suits brought a long table and rolled out a long sheet of
paper. Harry continued with out skipping a beat, then a third man came out
and started painting. Ahhh Calligrapher.. Thoughts of Rolf Harris came to
mind as I waited for the finale, expecting to see him pick a can and exclaim
"Trust British Paints" .. "Sure can" .. But no ... Harry kept talking. Then
suddenly there was a break! OMG it's an auction. yes, they auction the
painting. Now we are too scared to move in case we accidently make a
purchase for god knows what price, as there is nothing familiar sounding in
the Chinese language. Just when you thought it was over another painting
came out and this continued longer than the opera did!!

Finally, we were released from the dungeons of Gryffindor, oh sorry I meant
the theatre and we had time to explore the streets on our own...

It is just as beautiful to visit Jingli street in the evening, when all the
lanterns light up. Even more crowds gather many making their way through
the maze of lanes and at the end you are tempted by the aroma of the
delicious local snacks from stall after stall after stall. Sichuan food is
big and bold on flavour and like any addiction, people crave the chilli's
that are so popular in this region.


Monday, December 10, 2018

9 Chengdu - Peoples Park

Parks Play an important part in China’s society.  Maybe because China is so densely populated. No backyards and picket fences here, just blocks and blocks of apartments tower on mass throughout the cities.  So many people, especially retirees flock to the parks to relax, socialise and enjoy life. 

Peoples park in Chengdu is one of those hubs… Beautiful gardens provide the back drop to this social mecca.. Here you can join an impromptu choir, dance for fun or watch others show off their skills. Musicians busking not for money but for your enjoyment. Sit in one of the oldest teahouses and enjoy some tea and have a chat. Groups gather to play cards or mah-jong… As I mentioned the gardens were beautiful with wonderful displays of colour, flower artistry and wonderful topiaries. 

Now a side note, in the park there were monitors that measured the noise within the park… I wanted to write something about it, so to get my facts right I googled it… well…. Apparently this park had the reputation of being the noisiest park in China, thanks to those rowdy retirees who didn’t want to sit and home and vegetate…  Rather than go too much into it … have a read of this light hearted description https://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/04/world/asia/china-chengdu-park-noise.html

But here is what peaked our interest the most!  No need for Tinder in China, because you have Match Making street in nearly all major city parks. Here people come to arrange good marriages..  Walking along the lane you see mainly handwritten signs advertising a prospective husband or wife, details of age, height, employment and wealth..  Technology still does have a presence here cause if you are interested out comes the iPad with photo’s for your perusal. It must work if the crowds are any indication.  Groups huddle together in what looks like negotiations where those with the  best prospects win!

I did offer to auction off anyone interested from the Contiki Club!

Friday, November 30, 2018

8 Taste of Chengdu part 2 Street Food or should I say "Snacks"

When we say snacks we think chips, peanuts, cheese and crackers but in
Chengdu, it's anything on a stick. Some easily recognisable others leave
you wondering. BBQed and deep fried morsels heavily marinated in soy,
chilli or a thick sweet substance. Steamed buns, dumplings and all that is
just the savoury.

The bakeries are amazing and I could easily survived on anything filled with

Just as we would have water in China you are served green tea with every
meal. Popular drinks are ice teas, fruit juices, milk teas and bubble
teas... Bubbles you ask, think warm milky tea infused with beads of jelly
that don't necessarily give it flavour but texture.

As much as I have been enjoying the fabulous lip numbing flavours, there are
moments where I craved simple tastes of home.... Well until the next yummy
thing was in front of me!!

8 Taste of Chengdu part 1 Banquets

Today was the first of many banquets that we will served be during this
trip... Chengdu is in the Sichuan Province, which is becoming the foodies
capital of China.

Hot and spicy are the main characteristics of their most popular dishes.
Meats and vegetables are stewed in a red oily bubbling soup to create their
most famous dish the Hot Pot! Duck, fish and lots of vegetables steamed or
sautéed, were some of the many dishes laid out on our table. Just when you
thought you had enough more plates are brought out.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

7 Chengdu Highlights - Wide and Narrow Streets Part 2

And now the food... what can I say, delicacies of all sorts served as snacks on stick. Memories of the Easter show come flooding back, but instead of Dagwood dogs and fairy floss it is pig snouts and rabbit heads that are on offer.
Fruits, juices and ice teas beautifully displayed and each a piece of artwork in their own right.

7 Chengdu Highlights - Wide and Narrow Streets Part 1

At the start of our day we all piled into our bus under the direction of our
local guide Flora with our SNA host William working the background to ensure
everything went well.
Our group was a good mix, we had the Contiki tour up the back, our Chinese
family in the middle and our Taree representatives down the front.
First stop was at the wide and narrow streets of Chengdu. Streets linked by
alleys, lined with shops, restaurants and tea houses. Shop keepers, waiters
and performers traditionally dressed, so authentic right down to the
beautifully applied makeup or wonderfully painted masks.
Amazing old architecture restored and repurposed into shop fronts selling
trinkets of all kind begging to bought and taken home as a reminder of your
visit to this interesting place.
A couple of Artisans that tickled my fancy.. Sugar Art.. Shapes made from
toffee. no sand in jars here .. They have flymo artists creating models of
some very popular icons.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

6 Good Morning Chengdu

We woke up this morning to the soft and gentle music filtering into our room from the park below. Looking out our window, in perfect formation, locals were completing their morning ritual of Tai Chi. Like a well choreographed ballet they moved from one position to another. You could feel the serenity just by watching, but we soon shook that feeling off as we started to rush around to get ourselves ready for our day.

Our breakfast buffet was beautifully displayed, tempting us to eat more that we should have. As great as western selection looked, it seemed so bland next to delicious colourful array of the asian cuisine.

Stations full of fresh fruits, pastries, dumplings, porridge's and congees. A dedicated station for stir fries and noodles. Steamed vege's, fried rice and my one disappointment that I didn't try the boiled tea eggs.