Tuesday, February 24, 2009

More PANDAS!!!!!!!

You got a problem with that?

Richard has moved on to Xian, and I'm here in Chengdu for a few more days, waiting to take the train to Urumqi. I was surprised at how scarce the tickets were, even for soft sleeper - or maybe that's not so surprising, given that this is a full two days of train travel. If you have the money, you're going to want soft sleeper, and I am not expecting that to be particularly comfortable for that amount of time either. But heck, it's an experience, and why else am I here, if not to collect a few more interesting ones?

I decided to change hotels for the rest of my stay here. Honestly, the place we were in before was really nice. They give you fruit baskets! And robes. But the part of town it's in, the Zongfu Road shopping district, isn't that interesting. So I've moved to the Southwest, in the "Jinli Recreation District." This is not "recreation" as in the, having fun, playing badminton sense, but rather, the recreation of historic styles of architecture. It's very touristy (almost entirely Chinese tourists - laowai are in short supply here, something I'll be posting about later), but undeniably charming, and it sits in a really interesting neighborhood.

Tibetans live here, maroon and saffron robed monks strolling up and down the streets, talking on their cellphones, cowboys with leather hats and stuffed grimy duffels buying lamb skewers and flat-bread from a tiny Uighur storefront. I bought some skewers myself, cooked fresh over a metal half cylinder loaded with ashy coals, by a very pregnant Uighur woman who I'm pretty sure speaks less Chinese than I do. Two skewers cost two kuai, about thirty cents. Then for good measure I walked down the block and bought a meat pie thing - one kuai. So far, so good on the digestive front. I did discard the bottle of water I bought at another stall - not a local brand but one I've had a number of times. The cap opened far too easily and the water was filled to the top. I've read about cases where unscrupulous operators refilled old bottles with tap water, and though this bottle could have been fine, I decided it wasn't worth risking my health for 1.5 kuai. Though I guess you could make the argument that I did that with the street food. Oh well.

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