Chengdu is the fourth largest city in China, after Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. It’s the capital of Sichuan province, famous for its spicy but delicious food.
Sichuan was the site of a devastating 7.9 earthquake in 2008 which killed an estimated 70,000 people. Four years later, the earthquake may be why so much of the region is newly built, or it may be just because that’s how things roll in Western China. While the eastern part of the country is experiencing a slowdown, the west is expected to continue to thrive for years to come, with Chengdu leading the way. Even so, the city still only has one subway line, with a second line underway.
For me, Chengdu was my Waterloo.
Having been in China almost two months, it was high time I got sick to my stomach. I had left my Imodium, Cipro et al in Shanghai to reduce the weight of my backpack and as a result ended up losing far more weight than I’d planned.
For the next few days I hung around the hostel, a place called Sims Cozy, since Lazybones was full. On trivia night I teamed up with three Scots who were teaching in a small village east of Chengdu. They were the only Westerners in their town and this was their first hamburger in months. We won the game with the winning question: How many provinces does China have? [FYI, when in China, your answer had better include Taiwan.]
Benny and Olga stopped by later in the week to let me know they had survived the Emeishan ordeal and to book their trip to Tibet—still closed to foreigners unless you shell out a couple thousand bucks for a full-time tour guide and chaperone.
Masha even reappeared at Sims to air her grievances about her trips to Lugu Lake and Songpan, and eager to leave the nightmare that was her China vacation. She had one more stop—Beijing—where she would celebrate Passover with a friend.
Benny and Olga and I meanwhile would celebrate at national park called Jiuzhaighou.