China’s National Holiday Updates from Chengdu!

          Last Friday evening, a majority of items were  packed for our journey to Chengdu.  LF had found the perfect place where she knew she’d not be left behind:  sleeping inside the opensuitcase.                                                                                                                                           

          She’d already dragged out several of the travel toys I’d stuffed in for her to play with in the hotel room.  This is a habit she has.  Our first such road trip, I arrived at the hotel to find not a single toy in the suitcase.  I knew I’d put  them in there! Where were they?  On the return home, I found them strewn about the floor in the sitting room.  After that, I learned my lesson to zip them in tightly right before we left so she couldn’t get to them.
           I haven’t been on a road trip with the dog in over a year and forgot that listening to your instincts is an important part of traveling, especially when you’re headed 3 1/2 hours north. 
          My hands were directly on the sweatshirt and jeans Saturday morning, right before departure.
         "Better take those," I said to myself.  "Remember, it’s colder in Chengdu."
         But in Luzhou’s 96 degree heat, with the sweat pouring down my face and the dog panting after our sizzling morning walk outside, it just didn’t seem possible Chengdu could be cold enough for all that.
          Think again!
          An hour outside of the city landed our air-conditioned bus onto the expressway where overcast skies greeted us.   30 minutes later, we hopped out at the rest stop to temperatures already quickly dipping to the chilly stage.  And entering Chengdu in the dark evening, the cold rain was pelting down in sheets.  I had no umbrella, a suitcase, and the dog in her carrier all to deal with while trying desperately to get a taxi.  The bus station is a bit far out of the city.  Getting a cab is an aggressive fight, especially in the rain and competing against a crowd of other passengers likewise wanting a ride into town.
          I was lucky not to get too soaked.  A taxi pulled up directly in front of me and in I scrambled with my load of stuff.  
          I was really worried that upon my arrival at the hotel, it would be booked and I’d be stuck wandering the streets, looking for a place to stay.  As it happened, I ended up at a hotel not only in my former Chengdu neighborhood, but one that shares the apartment complex’s grounds.  The hotel’s back door exits me directly  onto the grassy enclosure of last year’s apartment.  In fact, the Yang family’s front door is 10 seconds’ walk away from the hotel’s back door with the family’s streetside convenience store just around the corner from the hotel’s entrance.
          Not only that but this hotel offers in-room computers and Net access for $3.00 a day.  The room itself is only $13 a night so I think I’ve hit the jackpot.  The only "down"side is that we are on the 5th floor with no elevators.  It wouldn’t be so bad except that LF needs to go out several times a day, including midnight outings.  Hiking up and down stairs is a bit of a pain but we need the exercise. Already, all our Chengdu friends who knew us before have commented on how fat LF has gotten.  It’s all the food students throw on the ground at our Yangtze river campus.  Even when leashed, she is quick to snap up pieces of cake, gnawed on chicken bones, cookies, crackers, potato chips and a wide range of other goodies our countryside college kids drop along the sidewalk without a moment’s hesitation.
             In other words, educating Chinese about littering may be taking hold somewhat in the cities but in the rural areas, it’s still a big problem to get them to put their discards into a trash can.  LF’s eager tastebuds benefit greatly from this but not her weight! 
             First order of business upon my arrival was a call to Jalin, the 15-year-old daughter of the Yang family, to tell her where we were.  Jalin and I had already been emailing about what we’d do together during the holidays.  Unfortunately for her, she only gets 3 days off (Mon-Wed.).  As all students who are going to enter high school next year, she is busy 7 days a week having classes which will prepare her for the entrance exams into top high schools in the city.  Her holiday would start 6:30 p.m. Sunday evening after she finished her courses along with her classmates.  That left me Sunday to do as I please until Monday when she promised to take me shopping for warmer clothes.
             Monday brought out the shoppers to Chengdu’s downtown shopping heaven, Chun Xi Road.  This is where all the department stores, name-brand stores, small boutiques and hundreds of food places are located.  No cars are allowed and it’s just as well.  We were wall-to-wall people, pushing and bumping into one another despite the wide avenues to walk through.  After over an hour of searching the sports’ stores for a sweatshirt, we found an affordable Jeans West sale where I purchased my purple long-sleeved shirt for $11.  We’d have tackled the crowds for sweatpants but by that time, we were too exhausted from the fight through the mobs.  It was back to Jalin’s home where her mom had prepared several dishes for us to enjoy along with the rest of the family, including Jalin’s younger aunt and her dad’s brother.
             Tuesday sent us to Dr. Q’s (the vet) to pick up LF’s dogfood and new arthritis medication.  The Taoist (Doaist) temple was near there so we enjoyed a visit there along with a sit in the tea house.  Unfortunately, they were closing up so we just drank our water. 
             Wednesday afternoon was a great sit in The Bookworm, a foreigners’ hang-out which is a coffee shop that also serves meals.  The atmosphere is that of a library with wall-to-wall books in the two huge sitting rooms.  Here anyone can choose from the shelves to read at their pleasure.  There are also US and European gossip and fashion magazines to browse through plus Net hook-up for many who enjoy bringing their laptops to do their work. 
            This kind of set-up is so very different than a Chinese tea place or small cafe that it really does make one feel as if they’ve escaped China for a few hours.  Jalin did her math homework and then the both of us cruised through the fashion magazines.
            Today is Thursday.  Jalin’s mother may join us for an outing somewhere in the city, we’re not quite sure where yet. 
           I’m  off to the pool every day from 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.  Then I return at 2 p.m. to walk LF until 3 p.m. when Jalin and I meet up for our time together.  
           This is proving to be a very fun week with a few more days yet to go.  After returning to Luzhou, I’ll be sure to give you the week in pictures.
          For now, I leave you with "Ping An" (Peace) for your day! 

About connieinchina

I have been in the Asia region for 30 years as an English language teacher. 28 of those have been spent with the Amity Foundation, a Chinese NGO that works in all areas of development for the Chinese people. Amity teachers are placed at small colleges throughout China as instructors of English language majors in the education field. In other words, my students will one day be English teachers themselves in their small villages or towns once they graduate. Currently, this is my 13th year in Luzhou Vocational and Technical College. The college is located in Luzhou city (loo-joe), Sichuan Province, a metropolis of 5 million people located next to the Yangtze River .
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