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And so she was known as the pied piper of Chengdu... for when she made the terrible mistake of going to the science museum in the afternoon she was beset by them, hordes of the little beasts, and they shared a secret code the adults did not understand, for at her they shouted hello, how are you, good morning, bruce lee, fuck you, & money, and at first she laughed & danced as did the children ( for children are always entranced by this piper) but after time went on the little ones attracted the bigger ones, and by the agressions of the bigger ones she was driven from the museum & into the street where the beasts daren't go...

Anyway, in Chengdu, had hotcakes & sausage for breakfast (woot!) & the best chili lime wierd seafood soup & crispy spring rolls for lunch. Spent the day in aimless wandering, found a beautiful flower, orchid & bonsai filled park in the afternoon. Glad that for some reason I sprung for a room of my own with a bath (I think because it came with a sauna-yayz) because I have a mild case of the travelers curse, which is seldom fun in a hostel dorm. Chengdu is hot-mid 80s in the afternoon & tropical steamy.(Chinese still wearing coats) Town is known for its Ginko trees (the tree of my heart), but they have just barely begun to bud. The cherry blossoms & camelias are fabulous though. Nothing too special about Chengdu really, pretty big, 5km across I think & they are building the country's 8th metro here. Cool square with wierd architecture & mao overlooking (wonder what he would think of the playboy store easily in his giant gaze) It is an older Mao, a little portly. Got a copy of Marx in Chinese today, the only souvenier I really had to have other than my painting I lost-grrr. Got to talk a bit of arabic, their is a big muslim population, & ~drool~ lamb on a stick in front of the big mosque. The science museum was cool, kind of a crappy chinese version of the franklin institute, plenty of english captions, rather glorifies GE.. There was a really neat display on the dam project, which is one place I couldn't bring myself to see, so I really enjoyed the models etc. Saw a few temples, one of which was unconverted Dao, which was cool bc most have been converted to Buddhism. Did not take a single picture, which I'm proud of, I feel I've spent way too much time behind a camera, having taken over 600 pictures already!

At 8pm I went to the Sichuan Opera- not exactly an Opera more of a sichaun variety show set up to please tourists- and oh how it does! It was only about $20, including transport & yummy tea, and lasted about 2 hours. The first act was a bit of genuine Sichuan Opera and the costuming was amazing, especially the headpieces with 6 foot long feathers of some exotic bird. The second act was a man playing the common Chinese string instrument whose name currently escapes me, both violin style, and then fiddle style! What followed was the neatest puppet performance I think I have ever seen! The puppet was a beautiful asian lady, dressed like the women in the earlier opera and the puppetteer had full control of her digits, the two of them moving in sych & him doing marvelous things with her hands! Next was a demonstration of the Sichuanese Trumpet, which is actually a reed instument, not unlike the snake charming flutes of the Ugyhrs. It sounds like a mix between an alto sax and a kazoo. Again the demo was of both traditional, and alternative, techniques of play. After that came a hand shadow show (remember sesame street) where the man made amazing birds, rabbits, horses & even dogs. It was totally cool... The following act was a comedic scene between a husband in wife involving a bit of acrobatics and some neat facial manipulation, the story easy to discern with no knowlege of Sichuanese. Finally, they closed with a show of what the Sichuan Opera is known for quick face and costume changes, there is no real way to explain this, its really too amazing to describe without seeing it, but basically, the actor's face disappears behind a fan or other object for a fraction of a second and reappears with a different mask. Maybe 30 masks on each performer!! It really is incredibly neat.

I have booked a trip to Leshan (to see Dafo, the giant Buddha) & to Emei Shan tomorrow. It is Chinese only, and includes all meals, transport, tickets & the overnight for only about $100.


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China 2009

Beijing and beyond..., China