Saturday, October 13, 2007

Chengdu Again

Well let me start this with saying I now have a visa that is good till November 5th.

My first impression of Chengdu was not very positive but the longer I stayed in the city the more it seemed to grow on me. At first I found the city really confusing and seemed to get lost when ever I went anywhere but by my last day I seemed to have learned a number of the bus lines and knew the 16, 55, 1, 64 and 34 would all get me close to the hostel. I also really enjoyed the hostel that I stayed in. It was full of friendly people and a few of them enjoyed a few beers. I was no good at the game a guy from Switzerland had us playing where you would set a deck of cards on top of a bottle and each person would try and blow a card or cards off but always trying to leave at least one card. If you blew off all the cards you had to drink. I have to say that it made me feel a bit old when they started talking about the year they were born and only one was born before the year I got out of high school and that was only by a year. It seemed hard for some people to leave the hostel. A few of them would say they where leaving tomorrow and then the following night I would be talking to them again and they would say I decided to stay one more night but for all I know they may be still there.

Even though I spent a lot more time in Chengdu then I had planned I seemed to find something to do most days. I visited the Jinsha Site Museum. It is an excavation site and the museum of things they have found. They found a gold disk that is called Sunbird and it talked about the people believing that a bird carried the sun each day from rising to setting. This is a sculpture of the Sunbird disk on the museum grounds. None of the pictures I took of the real Sunbird disk turned out.

I wondered around in Wang Jiang Lou Park and enjoyed seeing the tea houses full of older Chinese people playing a type of dominoes that I think is called majan. This is a pagoda in the middle of the park

I spent most of one morning looking for the Secret Tiny Museum of Mao Paraphemallal. This museum still remains a secret to me because I never did find it and I'm sure the place has no sign. I did come across a Catholic Church while looking for the museum and walked around the part of the Church that was open. I was surprised to see a Church since I was not aware of any of the populations being Christian.

I wandered around an area that was like the Beijing Hutong area. It was much smaller then in Beijing and was surrounded by a large construction site where I'm sure neighborhoods like this where recently torn down. The houses in this neighborhood
seem like a patch work of stuff stuck together to make a building and it looks to me a stiff wind would blow them down.

I keep trying street food and in the Hutong area I tried another egg roll looking thing and it was a lot like the one I had in Beijing but with a lot more peppers. If you don't like really spicy foods Sichuan is not for you. Just about everything I have eaten in Sichuan has been really hot. I have also had a number of different things grilled on a stick. I have had stick meat, potatoes, a hotdog and one night my dinner was picking all sorts of sticks of meats and vegetables. The vegetables were fried and the meat grilled. All of these where really good and it would not be Sichuan if everything did not have a ton of spicy stuff thrown in to make it really hot. The place I did the dinner out of stick food the guy tried to tell me what meat was what with sound and hand gestures to show this animal has horns or says bah. I found this great since this is the way I have to order most of the time. Nice to see someone else acting like a fool.

The day to get my visa finally came and I went to get it and found this process a little confusing. There were a lot more people in the office then when I applied for the extension and they seemed to be using a number system. I found the automate to get a number and I got number 45 and they were currently on number 25. I sat and waited my turn and the numbers seemed to be going rather quick at least until number 37. At 37 it seemed to stop. I sat around for about 20 minutes looking at the number 37 and watching people walk up to the counter and do things. Finally I walked up and show the lady my receipt for my passport but not my number that was still 8 away. She took my receipt and printed out another paper and handed me the new paper and my receipt and pointed to a small sign with instructions. I had done step one and sort of 2, 1 Take a number and 2 wait your turn. Number 3 was to get a piece of paper to pay for the visa and 4 was to go to the China Bank of Commerce and pay for the visa. It had an address of 848 something street for the bank. I ask the street name and the lady pointed to go out and to the right. I was happy that the street just outside the visa building had the street name that I was looking for and walked down the street looking for 848. When I arrived at 343 it was the China Bank of Commerce I thought maybe I read the sign wrong and showed my paper to a guard and he put me in a line. I paid and went back to the visa office where I stood in line and then turned in my payment and my visa receipts and received my passport. I checked the little sign prior to leaving and it did have 848 and not 343. By the way it was still number 37's turn when I left with my passport and new visa in hand.

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